Biracial Bullying-Guest Column

Several years ago, I heard about the anti-bullying work of Dr. Cherrye S. Vasquez, and was quite impressed. After many discussions, I asked her to be on the advisory board for Project RACE. She is a retired public school administrator and an adjunct professor. Her credentials and broad qualifications are too numerous to mention here, but all you need to do is read her books and research promoting diversity and anti-bullying dispute resolution to fully realize how important her work is. Cherrye addresses the concerns of children, teens, parents, and educators. She is their national voice and an expert in many vital areas of education. She has taken one of my questions and turned it into an insightful blog post. You can read it below or on her blog at http://www.blog.cherryesbooksthatsow.com/

Dear Dr. Cherrye,

Biracial children often get bullied more than single-race kids. How can we, as adults, help them better understand how to best handle racial and ethnic bullying?

Dear Susan,

Thank you for raising this important question. As we know, bullying is growing daily, but children who are multiracial seemingly get picked on a bit more depending on the racial make-up of the school they’re enrolled.

Of course there are differing variables that attribute to the bullying of children who comprise the multiracial race, but it appears that the variables that I’ve observed and researched fall into one of two categories and both has to do with parenting support, self-esteem, empowerment and affirmation.

First Things First

Before we can help children deal with racial and ethnic bullying, we must first work on our children’s psyche (their soul, mind, and spirit) from the inside, then outwardly. When a child feels good about him/herself, has learned the importance of self-identity, and has supporting loving parents, bullying is lessened.

When a child is empowered and carries him/herself like the kings and queens they are, bullies will have a difficult time breaking their spirits.

The Interracial Parents

If parents have done their homework, multiracial children will feel secure and bold enough not to assimilate into one race over another. It is up to the multiracial child to identify solely as biracial while acknowledging their total racial make-up. Parents should instill confidence in their children while empowering them. Parents can do this by using positive affirmations, and self-fulfilling prophecy techniques as they build upon their children’s strength.

The Home Environment

In a loving, functional home setting, multiracial children really do have the best of two worlds. This is not to say that single-race children don’t have a great world, but the multiracial child has two races all balled-up into one. In addition, multiracial children have the advantage, pleasure and honor of not choosing one race, but a combination of two, or more. Some children may choose one race over the other, or at times multiracial children vacillate between both or all of their races. Just long as they are the ones choosing the race, they’re most comfortable with, it’s no one’s business.

My hope, however, is for the multiracial child to identify honestly and openly that they’re indeed multiracial and nothing more, or less. This is how I’ve raised my own biracial child. She does not refer to herself as Hispanic or Black, but Biracial.

The home of interracial couples raising multiracial children should be loving and inviting. Racial slurs about other races should not be uttered. All races of people should be respected. The home should be filled with artifacts and photos depicting both, or all races. When parents do this, children feel whole, relaxed and confident.

Second Things Second

Bullies will attempt to break the multiracial child. The bully will come in the disguise of school peers and adults (so-called friends of the parents, teachers, and sometimes family members). Family members may not intend to skew the empowerment and work that interracial parents attempt to shower on their multiracial children, but they sometimes step outside their boundaries – they mean well, but please butt-out.

So-called friends and bullies will want to remind parents (especially the minority parent) that their multiracial children are people-of-color, and the Census Bureau still makes multiracial people ‘check all that apply’ instead of giving them their own racial category. These types will also remind interracial parents of the one-drop rule, but parents need to stand firm in their conviction, intelligence, and their child’s right to self-identify as multiracial. After all, it is the truth. The child is not one single-race. Let’s face it!

The Bully

When the bully arrives on the scene, it will be very difficult for him/her to ‘get next to‘ or irritate the multiracial child. By now, the multiracial child should pity the bully, consider the source (home environment, low self-esteem, jealousy, and more), and find better ways to spend their time. The multiracial child is armored with high self-esteem, empowerment, deep-seated self-confidence, talents, and has been trained to skillfully side-step the bully, and any antiquated, unlearned adult who has issues accepting the life and beauty of the multiracial child and his/her interracial family make-up.

Thank you, Susan Graham!

I want to take this time to personally thank you for this question, Susan. As one of the Advisory Board Members of Project Race and as the mother of a multiracial child, this topic/question has been important to me over the years. I want to take this time to introduce you to my blog-reading audience.

Author, Susan Graham, is the Director of Project Race which is an organization that advocates for multiracial children, multiracial adults and their families primarily through multiracial education and community awareness.

Susan has recently written a book entitled: Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America. I’ve read Susan’s book, and I want to encourage my readers to get a copy of it, too. You will walk away feeling inspired and motivated to the cause.

If you are a parent of a multiracial child, or if you know someone who is, I’d like to also invite you to get involve with Project Race. To learn more about the mission and work of Project Race please visit the website.

Multiracial Heritage Week is June 07-14, 2019

 

Guest Column

Below is a guest column by Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D. in response to my “A New Concern” blog entry and email. I think this response is particularly thoughtful and thorough. We had a great response to “A New Concern” with people stressing that yes, they do care about the bullet points regarding some of the recent concerns and they are very wary of the negative media portrayal that being multiracial is a hindrance. Project RACE continues to get out positive messages about the multiracial community. Thanks to all who participated. –Susan Graham

 

Guest Column – Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

I watched the video and I’ll share my thoughts:

It appears to me ideologies of biracial identity fluctuates depending on variables associated with an individual’s: environmental experiences, background experiences, family life experiences, support systems or lack thereof.

For example, our former POTUS clearly identifies as AA. From the outside looking in he was more than likely told from his grandparents (who raised him) he was black because his skin tone is brown, his dad was African, and who knows what else. I remember hearing him tell a story once of observing his grandmother (years ago) clutching her purse when passing an AA man, and how that made him feel.

My daughter who is 1/2 Black and 1/2 Hispanic (living in this era) does not identify solely as either black or Hispanic. With lots of purposeful persuasion, I raised and supported her to feel good about not owning to one category over the other. I wanted her to reach the age of accountability deciding to identify as biracial (I hope she continues). If she chooses to identify as either one race over the other, it will be her choice, but I do not believe she will. She feels strongly about her identity.

I believe strongly (just like political choices) racial identity is highly influenced by parental input. I also listened and cautioned grandparents, teachers and anyone else labeling my daughter as one race. I do not believe in the 1% rule. That is most ridiculous to me. Some might go further claiming the child should identify with the race of their dad. Why should the child disclaim their other half?

Regardless how my daughter “looks” to anyone, and it does vary, she is a combination thus – biracial, and she announces it with such pride, if asked, and many people ask often.

What I’ve noticed about my daughter is this: She has friends from all races – not only black and Hispanic – because she loves people. Due to the racial make-up at the school my daughter attends she does have a healthy balance of both black and Hispanic friends.

Now, I realize as well my daughter (being black and Hispanic) may not be termed the classic (black/white) biracial child being that she is a double minority, but believe me “bi” is “bi” so she faces the same experiences as all biracial individuals only her outlook and reactions makes the positive difference in her life. She isn’t bogged down with hectic decisions of choosing who to hang out with. She just has friends.

One other comment I want to make: Regardless of racial identity children should absolutely LOVE who they are and believe they can “set the world on fire” with their beauty, talents/skills. When we instill this sort of empowerment children possess such esteem and affirmation nothing topples their spirits.

As a parent, I want to continue fighting for my child’s identity rights and the rights of all children to identify as biracial! It’s their right!

About the Author, Cherrye S. Vasquez, Ph.D.

Cherrye is a retired public school administrator and an adjunct professor who has earned a Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum & Instruction; a Master of Education in Special Education; and a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology.

Cherrye’s areas specializations are in Multi-cultural education, Early Childhood Handicapped, Mid-Management and Educational Diagnostician.

Cherrye lives in Houston, Texas with her husband, Roy and daughter, Kelly.

As an educator, mother, and author Cherrye believes that adults and educators must, as role models, develop an atmosphere of respect for children to thrive in. Her books provide examples of how to reduce bullying by encouraging diversity.

http://cherryesbooksthatsow.com

 

 

 

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.