It’s Famous Friday!

Serena Williams and Alexis Ohanian

Serena is thirty seven years old. She is one of the greatest women’s tennis players. She has won a record 23 Grand Slam tennis titles. She met thirty six year old Alexis Ohanian in May of 2015 at the Rome Cavalieri Hotel in Italy. He had never watched her play. Alexis is co founder of the social new website Reddit. His father is Armenian and his mother is from West Germany. Serena had never heard of Ohanian. She invited him to Paris to watch her play in the French Open and they walked around for hours before the tournament began. He soon began showing up at all of her matches to watch her play. Ohanian proposed to Williams in December of 2016 at the same place they met. Williams announced their engagement on Reddit. Serena found out that she was pregnant in January 2017 while she was playing in the Australian Open. She ended up winning the Australian Open while she was eight weeks pregnant. Alexia Olympia Ohanian Jr. was born on September 1, 2017. Serena opened up about their interracial marriage in an interview with the New York Times. She stated “Literally all I tell Alexis is, ‘well, you know, there’s such a difference between white people and black people.’ He always gets to hear about the injustices that happen; that wouldn’t happen if I were white. It’s interesting. I never thought I would have married a white guy, either, so it just goes to show you that love truly has no color, and it just really goes to show me the importance of what love is. And my dad absolutely loves Alexis.”  The birth of Alexis made her father even more aware of the need for paternity lead. Mr. Ohanian is currently in the spot light for fighting for paid paternity leave. He has met with others who have fought for federal policy. One out of four dads has access to paid leave and even fewer have leave available to them through their employers. The US is the last country in the developed world without a policy for family leave.

 

Makensie Shay McDaniel

Project RACE Teens President Emeritus

 

Photo Credit: instyle.com

7 THINGS WHITE MOMS RAISING MULTIRACIAL KIDS KNOW

Image Source: Laura Harris

IMAGE SOURCE: ARIEL HOLCOMB PHOTOGRAPHY

 

by Laura Harris

https://www.babble.com/contributor/lharris/

Eight years ago, I fell in love with a musician who had a great smile, strong convictions, and proved he was a kid at heart by climbing trees with me on our first date. We married in 2011, have two children, and are still best friends to this day. It just so happens that I’m Caucasian and my husband is Korean, African-American, and Cherokee. His skin is the color of dark caramel and his eyes do the coolest crinkly thing when he laughs. I, on the other hand, very closely resemble a peach Crayola crayon with brown, curly hair.

Needless to say, meeting our kids for the first time was AWESOME.

Of course, it would have been, no matter what we looked like. But one unique element about our family is that our son and daughter both represent four entirely different ethnicities from four different continents. History class will take on a whole new meaning for them.

Honestly, skin color doesn’t come up very often in our house, unless we’re having a specific discussion or teachable moment together. It simply isn’t a “thing.” But when I stop and see my life from the outside, I’m reminded that there really are differences in being a white mom with multiracial kids. Some of them are hilarious. Some of them are sobering. All of them are a privilege to experience if it means I get to spend one more day being my children’s mom.

You’re probably waiting for me to dish the dirt on all the terrible things strangers have hissed in my ear in the grocery aisle. We do live in a messed up world, but honestly, most people just stare.

Will my children face some of the persecutions their father faced as a child? Will they face things that their white classmates and cousins won’t understand, and, to a degree, I won’t fully understand? Yes. But every family faces challenges, no matter their skin color. Every family is made up of completely unique individuals. Every family has their “weird is the new normal” moments. Here are a few of ours.

1. Your kids may not look anything like you.

In my case, my kids look like their daddy. It’s just the nature of the dominant genes. That’s fine. I happen to think he’s adorable, so bring on the adorable descendants. We didn’t fall in love because of our skin color, or decide to have children because of that. The byproduct of our different races means that the kids simply don’t look like me very much.

Still, I see similarities flash by — like when my daughter speaks in a gentle voice to her stuffed animal when it’s “injured,” stroking its fur and giving it hugs. Or when I saw my 1-year-old son toddle out of his room recently. His eyes darted around as he tried so hard to hide the little quiver in his chin, and when his eyes locked on mine, his face wrinkled and his eyes welled with tears as he raced into my arms. It’s in those little moments that I see it. The gentle hand. The shape of the quivering chin. That’s when I see me.

2. People regularly ask, “Are your children adopted?”

My uterus gets a little angry every time someone asks me this question. I can’t fault them for their assumption, so I’m not offended, but the devil in me always wants to answer with something like, “No, after two pregnancies and 41 total hours of labor, I birthed both of these children straight from my Caucasian loins.”

3. People don’t know how to ask about your kids’ ethnicity.

I hear things like this a lot: “Aww ... these are your kids? Wow! So, what’s their … um … who … uh … ”

Meanwhile, their hands flail about, searching for the right words in mid-air.

It usually ends with a benign, “W-where is their dad from?”

So I answer honestly. “Virginia.”

“ … ”

“I’m just messing with you,” I say. “You’re really asking what his ethnicity is, right?”

A sigh of nervous relief tumbles out of the other person. “Yes, yes, that’s what I was asking.” ::vigorous head nodding::

The thing is, I totally get the curiosity. My husband has dealt with this his whole life — sometimes with far less polite inquiries and assumptions made of him. I’ve tried to reverse roles and picture someone doing that to me.

“So, you’re German and English right? Can you say any German phrases? Can you sound like My Fair Lady? Do you know any good sauerkraut recipes?”

(I don’t, by the way.)

According to my husband, this video accurately depicts the hilarity of what his whole life has been like:

 

 

4. Everyone in your family is tanner than you … dang it.

My daughter was born during a Midwestern winter when the light-skinned world is at its pastiest. My little newborn was like a sweet caramel candy in my arms.

Don’t even get me started on how long it takes them to tan each summer. When my husband and kids wear sunblock, they still come home three shades darker. It’s cool. I can be the pasty mom. It’s cool… ::sniff::

5. People might think your baby’s birthmark is a bruise.

I had no idea what a “Mongolian spot” was before I became a mom. When my daughter showed up on the scene with a birthmark that looked like an ink stain on her lower back, I immediately asked my husband about it. His reply was, “It’s an ‘Asian baby’ thing.” Turns out, more than 80% of babies from Asian descent are born with the bluish gray birthmark.

It’s not even just Asians, though. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Mongolian blue spots are common among persons who are of Asian, Native American, Hispanic, East Indian, and African descent.” Less than 10% of Caucasian babies have it.

So basically, this is a completely normal birthmark for nearly everyone except white people.

When my son was born, his Mongolian blue spot looked like a splotchy map of North and South America stretched across his lower back, right hip, and buttocks. I totally bragged about it to my family ALL the time. “Look at my baby’s cool birthmark.” (Sorry, son. I stopped, I promise.)

That was until the day we were told that an incident report was filed while he was in a child care facility. One of the attendants changed his diaper and noticed the bluish marks, completely unaware of its origin. Out of concern and to make sure proper paperwork was filed to prove that he wasn’t injured while in their care, the attendant filed a report about the mark and gave it to the director … who showed it to me.

The whole matter was cleared up because we’d been friends with this director and many of the people on his team for years. They knew we would never abuse our children. Still, the danger of other caregivers mistaking our son’s large birthmark for injuries and calling CPS unnerved us. We decided to photograph the birthmark and file a signed statement from his pediatrician that it was, in fact, a birthmark (which led to the most embarrassing trip to the Walgreens photo lab I’ve ever taken).

6. Every day with your partner would have been illegal not that long ago.

My husband’s entire existence represents his parents’ interracial union and the progress this world has made. Our union is one step even further down that path. Things weren’t so rosy in the United States 50 years ago, however. Interracial marriage wasn’t even legalized until 1967.

This one will really scorch your latte, though: Upon further research, I learned that Alabama didn’t legalize interracial marriage until 2000. Two. Flippin’. Thousand.

I’m so grateful to live in a world that doesn’t hate my family or hunt us down or persecute us. Again, I’m not saying these things won’t ever happen, because people are people, but I’ll take every good day as a gift. Our ancestors made their choices. Now it’s up to us to make ours.

7. Your kids will ask you some day, “Mommy, why doesn’t your skin look like mine?”

I think about that one quite a lot. Everything I read and watch and listen to makes me think about my children and the world in which they’re growing up. I’m sure that’s the same for all parents. I cannot do anything about other people’s prejudices or misguided beliefs on race. What I can do is show acceptance in my own home.

My children will know that I love them. They’ll know that I love their father. They’ll know that we accept each other’s families.

My husband and I talk openly about racial issues with each other, gaining a better understanding each time. We’ll watch a movie and discuss why a person of a certain race was cast in a certain role. We’ll reflect on our childhood and compare the moments when we felt like outsiders, often for very different reasons.

I don’t think we meant to do this, but all these conversations are preparing us for the day when our children ask us that one question, “Why doesn’t my skin look like yours?” “It’s actually a beautiful story,” I’ll tell them. “Your own little history.”

Until that day, I will patiently wait, pray, and prepare for my babies to ask their questions and find their voices in this world.

 

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

Are Biracial Children Damaged?

by Cherry Vasquez, Ph.D.

 

Kelly Vasquez 2

 

Approximately seven years ago, I was engaged in, what I thought was a friendly conversation with a group of ladies at my work. As mothers, we often talked about daily activities our children were engaged in. Our conversations were personal, easy stress relievers, and generally ended with much laughter among the group.

When I ended my “story for the day” on the subject of my daughter’s latest activity, one of the ladies turned and said, “Well, she’s going to have psychological problems anyway.”

I looked at her, startled, and asked what she meant by that. “Well, she’s biracial,” she continued,” and all biracial children end up with psychological problems.”

This woman was the first person who’d ever made such an asinine statement to me, but unfortunately not the last. What she claimed never crossed my mind. Why would it?

My daughter is a charming, well-rounded, culturally balanced, beautiful biracial girl who excels academically, and–I might add she’s one very fine pianist. She has friends of all races and heritages, and she loves people. In fact, whenever someone refers to my daughter as one ethnic group over another, she’ll quickly inform she’s neither one over the other, but both (African-American and Hispanic), thus bi-racial. She loves all of who she is, and is very proud of both her heritages.

I must admit, I have heard of and read stories about biracial children and adults alleging they’ve encountered problems fitting into groups, but I truly hadn’t spent any time at all pondering over this subject where my own child is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, I did my homework as a parent; I made sure to do my part to balance knowledge of both heritages and pointedly built her character, self-esteem and self-worth. This is mainly because self-esteem challenges, good or bad, have to do with any parenting and environmental situations, and not based on one’s racial make-up.

Because I happen to be an African-American mother of a biracial child whose father is Hispanic, I felt if there are those who declare just because a child is biracial they will automatically have psychological problems; I needed to set a platform about diversity and bullying in motion.

The truth of the matter is, children have it hard these days no matter what their ethnic background. Psychological problems stem from a child’s own lack of self-worth, not from the color of the child’s skin. If anything, the problem stems from adults’ bigotry and small-mindedness. In twenty-first century America, there is no room for biases and division.

Multicultural education is the key to diversity and an important factor for decreasing bullying behaviors. We need to stop making assumptions about children based on what they look like and allow them the chance they deserve to grow into healthy, well-adjusted individuals.

Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. is the owner of Books That Sow: Strength, Character & Diversity, DBA. Her collection of books builds character, self-worth, and empowers all children, whether monoculture, biracial of multiracial. Visit her website for more information: http://www.BooksThatSow.com. We are proud to have her on Project RACE’s Advisory Board.

 

Asian American Interracial Marriages

Interracial marriages involving Asian-Americans still can leave racial barriers

 

A University of Kansas researcher says the high rate of interracial marriages among Asian-Americans should not simply be interpreted as a litmus test of assimilation for the minority group.

Second-generation Asian-Americans who marry white Americans are not always able to transcend racial barriers without problems, and their biracial children face the same obstacles, said Kelly H. Chong, an associate professor of sociology who authored the study “Relevance of Race: Children and the Shifting Engagement with Racial/Ethnic Identity among Second-Generation Interracially Married Asian Americans,” published recently in The Journal of Asian American Studies.

“With the multicultural environment that has emerged in the last few decades that has made it easier and made it more fashionable to be different, we now celebrate diversity, so that makes a difference,” Chong said. “But even for Asian-Americans who believe in the general multicultural framework, they find that within their actual lives it’s very difficult for them to just blend in through intermarriage and sometimes even for their children who are biracial.”

As part of the qualitative study, Chong interviewed middle-class couples living in the greater Chicago area that included one Asian-American spouse and one white spouse. The Asian-American respondents were of Chinese, Korean and Asian Indian descent.

“It’s important to shed more light into the ways in which different groups assimilate and become incorporated as Americans,” she said. “And it’s not the same for everybody. Also, within this new context of multiculturalism and color-blind ideas, we have to more fine-tune the whole assimilation theories that have come out of sociology.”

Chong said Asian-Americans face both the “model minority” stereotype, where they are perceived to achieve a higher level of success based on their race, and the “forever foreigner” problem, even if their family has lived in the United States for several generations.

“They will still get questions like ‘where are you from?’ or ‘your English is so good,’ because your looks always mark you as being a foreigner,” she said. “That’s why I was very interested to see where Asian-Americans would fit into this.”

Through the interviews she found that the Asian-American spouses experienced this growing up, particularly if they lived in a mostly white community. Many noticed similar occurrences with their own children from the interracial marriage.

“I find that a lot of it has to do with the way you look. Biracial kids who look more Caucasian have a much easier time than ones who look more Asian, because the ones that look more Asian just get marked,” she said.

Overall, Chong said a key finding in her study was how most Asian-American parents in the interracial couple typically gave little attention to their own ethnicity until they had children.

“It’s just so interesting how many of the participants said that they themselves couldn’t care less. They actually say if I didn’t have children, I wouldn’t even be carrying about any of this business of reclaiming my ethnic identity or roots. It’s just because of my children,” she said.

Chong attributed that idea to the fear that a minority culture could become absorbed into a majority culture, or, to the fear of “cultural erasure,” something that has happened historically in many societies.

Asian-American parents said they were also more attuned to the possibilities their biracial children will face issues growing up related to their race and ethnicity, particularly if they look less white.

“They were aware that they need to be prepared because their will go through identity and cultural struggles,” Chong said.

The white parents in the interracial couples would tend to downplay these issues.

“They’re not ignorant. It’s just they tend not to attribute too much significance to racial matters,” she said. “At least they don’t want to, whereas the Asian-American parents are vigilant about it because they themselves have experienced all of this growing up.”

As sociologists continue to study the effects of immigration, she said it would be crucial to continue to study the implications of interracial marriages and biracial individuals and how they negotiate their ethnic and racial identities over their lifetimes.

“This assimilation path is not really following the old European ethnic model,” Chong said. “There’s something different going on. It’s hard to tell what is going to happen in the future.”

Source: Phys.org