When I was in kindergarten living in Los Angeles, California in the 70’s, I had no idea what “biracial” meant. I went to an all-black private school and the only white people I saw regularly was on television. I wasn’t really exposed to white kids until 1980, when we moved to a high desert suburb where I was the little brown dot on the white piece of paper.
So back to kindergarten–there was a little girl I went to school with (which ironically looks like my youngest daughter) who looked a bit different from all of us. She was VERY light, with long wavy hair with blond highlights. I remember being in a cluster of other little girls, and while I forgot most of the conversation, I remember her insisting she was black.
I looked down at my chocolate skin and those of the other little girls around, and then looked back at her. “No you’re not. You’re white,” I said.
It wasn’t with any malice on my part, I just was part of a world that was either black or white, with no shades in between.
The little girl was horrified and near tears. She insisted she was black, and we all looked at her with disbelief.
While I was only five and can hardly be held responsible for my actions, I still have regrets. I made her feel “othered.” I made her feel like she didn’t belong. I wish I could tell her how sorry I am.
Fast forward to now, and I now have three biracial kids, and I can’t help but wonder what it must be like for them. It’s a whole different world, where the fastest growing demographic are people claiming more than one race. That’s a lot of biracial children!
It’s interesting to witness first hand how much the world has changed.
Do you ever ask your kids about how they feel about their heritage?