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

 

Bullying and Multiracial Girls

Bullying and Multiracial Girls (Note, our own Dr. Cherrye Vasquez is interviewed in this story! She is on the Project RACE Advisory Board.) 
Bullying
Credit: Twentyfour Students on Flickr, under Creative Commons

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NEW YORK (WOMENSENEWS)–After repeatedly being teased for her yellow complexion and long, curly hair at a neighborhood playground, 7-year-old Tiana Roe of Amityville, N.Y. ran home crying, asking her parents, “What am I?”

“Kid’s made fun of me because I didn’t know exactly who I was,” said Roe, who is now 15. “They knew I wasn’t white but, when I told them I was black they didn’t believe me.”

Raised in a predominantly black neighborhood in Long Island, Roe was often the only lighter skin child in her community. At school peers rarely let her join games of tag and hide-and-seek.

“No one wanted to be on my team. I was always picked last,” Roe recalled recently in a phone interview from her home. “I didn’t feel human. I didn’t feel like I belonged anywhere.”

Among the 160,000 children who are bullied everyday, 31 percent are multiracial, according to Clemson University’s “Status of Bullying in School” 2013 report.

“People ask ‘what are you?’ because they are curious,” said Cherrye Vasquez, author of “The Diversity Daybook,” a journal designed to build diversity, in a phone interview. “Yes, this is socially inappropriate, but think about how often you yearn to know what race another is.”

Dominique Sims,16, attends Amityville Memorial High School on Long Island. She knows all too well about being bullied. Sims, whose parents are African American and white, was taunted by two white female students in her early education class, they repeatedly called her the “N-word,” “hunky” and “chocolate.”

“People don’t look at me as white,” Sims said. “Those two girls knew I was mixed. I was angry. It didn’t make me feel good. Why am I only being judged on the black side?” she said in a phone interview from her home in Amityville.

Harassment Began Online

Sims said the harassment began on Facebook and spilled into the classroom. She felt “horrible” when the principal disregarded the racial slurs because she wasn’t explicitly mentioned in them.

“It wasn’t fair” Sims said. “If they didn’t say ‘Dominique is a monkey,’ there was nothing they could do.”

After several requests for disciplinary action were denied, the principal penalized both Sims and her bullies with detention. “They made us sit in silence for two weeks as punishment,” said Sims. “It didn’t do anything.”

Racial bullying often goes unnoticed because of the gap in how teachers perceive interethnic relations, finds a 2012 report by the Integration Centre. This contributes to lower self-esteem and higher suicide rates among multiracial students.

Leatrice Brown, 15, attends Walt Whitman High School in Huntington, N.Y. She said bullying by her black peers at lunch and in the hallways often is overlooked by teachers and administrators.

“They don’t do it around teachers,” Brown said in a recent phone interview from her home in Huntington. “In school they’ll call me white, and it’s really annoying.”

Brown’s birth parents are biracial but her adopted parents are both black. She said the taunting escalates in the winter as peers begin to notice her “pale” complexion. This summer she spent extra time outside in the hopes it will prevent harassment.

“I would stay in the sun longer hoping to get a tan,” Brown said. However, sunbathing proved to be pointless as students continue to bully her. “You finally look black and you’re getting darker.” the kids tease.

When jokes surrounding Brown’s complexion worsened, she felt “uncomfortable,” “sad” and “insecure.”

“They started calling me albino,” Brown said. “I didn’t like that at all.” Afraid of being considered a “snitch,” Brown hasn’t told any teachers or family members about the bullying that began in her freshman year,

“I don’t think they can do anything to help,” she said. “If I [did] tell the teacher I would be made fun of more.”

This story is part of Teen Voices at Women’s eNews. In 2013 Women’s eNews retained the 25-year-old magazine Teen Voices to continue and further its mission to improve the world for female teens through media. Teen Voices at Women’s eNews provides online stories and commentary about issues directly affecting female teens around the world, serving as an outlet for young women to share their experiences and views.

Tatyana Bellamy-Walker is a student journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Daily News, New York Amsterdam News and Teen Kids News.

Microaggressions and the Multiracial Community

Read this excellent article by Dr. Dana Leeman

Everyday Stings: The Power and Pain of Microaggressions

Microagression

One day I was driving home from work listening to the radio. There was a story on recent employment trends. One of the guests on the radio show began to talk about the costs of labor and referred to “cheap” versus “costly” labor. Labor in undeveloped countries was cheap, and spoken about in ways that made the workers seem somehow more of a commodity and less human. Costly labor described laborers in the United States, parts of Europe, and Canada. I felt uneasy by the discussion that had effectively removed human beings from this equation. Was this a migroaggression or blatant racism?

By definition, microaggressions are subtle, often nuanced, verbal or behavioral slights, snubs, or insults that can be intentional, but are often unintentional. They communicate negative, pejorative, and sometimes hostile messages to others solely based on their membership in a marginalized group. Microaggressions may devalue another individual’s sense of dignity and worth, may demean them on a personal or group level, and communicate that this individual is in some way “less than.” People are so embedded in context, and microaggressions reflect this, that the perpetrator may have no consciousness about what he or she has said, and the painful consequences of his or her unintended behaviors or words. These are everyday slights in conversation and behavior, but they sting.

Imagine this scenario: You are white and sitting in your car in a predominantly white neighborhood. Perhaps, you are waiting to pick up a friend. Two male youths of color walk toward your car. They are deep in conversation. You don’t know if they see you in your car, but as they walk by, you lock your car. You perceive threat. It is a reflex. This is an example of microaggression.

Microaggressions are most commonly racial, but can also be directed at any person with membership in a minority, historically oppressed, underrepresented, or marginalized group. Therefore you may bear witness to and perpetrate microaggressions toward people based on gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, faith, and ability. What is important to remember about microaggressions is that the impact they have is no less devaluing or hurtful than overt acts or racism or oppression. Furthermore, microaggressions contribute to social injustice and can limit access to resources and services. Do not think that because micro means small, the cumulative impact of these common slights are any less substantive.

Consider the following examples of everyday stings.

  • A man passes a woman on a street and says, “You look so fine in that dress.” This is a gender-based microaggression. His comment may seem like a compliment, but it is objectifying and implies that a woman’s appearance or body is for the enjoyment of men. And because our culture is characterized by male dominance, he feels free to approach her in a public way.
  • A group of undergrad students are sitting in a coffee shop. One student says, “I really like your new jeans.” The other student says, “Thanks, I wasn’t sure about them. At first I thought they were a little gay, but then they grew on me.” This is a microaggression based on sexual orientation. In this example, the word gay is used to imply that something is negative or undesirable.

It is important to remember that in cases of microaggression, if one brings the slight to the attention of the perpetrator, the reaction might be of total disbelief. Often there is complete unawareness that anything offensive had been said or done. There may be an inability to take responsibility or remorse for the microaggression because there is such a profound lack of understanding about the impact of the exchange.

What are the implications for social workers? It is our job to respectfully observe and educate when we bear witness to microaggressions in practice — whether perpetrated by a client or colleague. This connects directly to our social justice mission as articulated by the NASW Code of Ethics. It is also important to be sensitive and responsive to others when we are the perpetrators of microaggressions. We are human. We are the products of our context and socialization, and we are not above saying or doing insensitive things either. It is important that we strive to be as self-aware, culturally attuned, and responsive as possible. When we are the ones causing pain, it is our professional and ethical mandate to be accountable and to see this as an opportunity for growth.

Bullying and Multiracial Student

Teacher fined for bullying mixed-race student

An award-winning public school teacher was sentenced to a fine of 3 million won ($2,735) for making discriminatory remarks against a sixth grade multicultural student in the classroom last year.

The female student, whose father is Canadian and mother is Korean, was scolded by the teacher for not eating kimchi in her school in Suwon last June.

The 50-year-old teacher asked her why she wouldn’t eat kimchi when “she is half-Korean,” and stated that her future (Korean) mother-in-law would not like it should she find out her daughter-in-law does not eat the traditional fermented Korean dish.

“We acknowledge that the teacher, as an educator, caused great emotional distress to the student with an international background,” the court said.

The teacher, who has some 30 years of teaching experience, had been awarded by the Suwon Office of Education in 2004 for her work.

The Suwon Office of Education did not take any disciplinary action against her, other than issuing a simple warning, when the student’s parents filed an official complaint to the police in August.

“Our rule is that teachers who have been awarded by the government get a certain degree of exemption when they face disciplinary action. If she hadn’t won the award, she would have faced heavier punishment,” Lee Won-mi from the Suwon Office of Education told The Korea Herald.

In May last year, the teacher made the whole class call the student “stupid” thrice loudly for “asking too many questions” in class.

Another time, the teacher asked those who take private education lessons outside of the classroom to raise their hands.

Among the students who did, the teacher pointed at the multicultural student and said “you are particularly a (financial) burden on your parents.”

The student, who moved to Korea from Canada with her parents in 2010, reportedly underwent therapy for a number of months after suffering emotionally from such remarks by the teacher.

The student’s parents told local media that the teacher never apologized properly, and should not be allowed to remain in the education field.

Prosecutors said they would appeal against the court decision, as the teacher can be removed from her position only if she is sentenced to imprisonment.

According to the Suwon education office, the teacher is currently not teaching at the school in Suwon, and has been on sick leave since last year.

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Bullying

No More Bullying: Biracial, multiracial and ethnic minority kids more likely to be bullied


 Bullying is a form of aggression used to gain power, and targeting peers based on racial differences is another misuse of power. Biracial and multiracial youth are more likely to be bullied than youth who identify with a single race, according to the National Voices for Equality Education and Enlightenment. Twice as many ethnic minority youth in elementary school report being bullied because of their race.
Types of bullying
There are three main types of bullying, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
1. Physical (hitting, kicking, tripping/pushing, spitting, taking/breaking belongings, making rude or mean hand gestures)
2. Verbal (name-calling, teasing, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments, threatening to cause harm)
3. Social/Relational (spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, purposeful exclusion, telling others not to be friends with someone)
What can parents do?
Talk to the principals, teachers and school counselors about ways to prevent and intervene with racially prejudiced bullying in classrooms by peers. Does your child’s school celebrate cultural diversity? Does the preschool or kindergarten class have toys and books that represent all ethnic groups?
It is important for parents to discuss the challenges that biracial and multiracial children may experience at school. Give them positive answers to the questions they may be asked by other students; “What are you?” or “Why is your skin different from mine?”
Research indicates that biracial and multiracial kids that are allowed to embrace and celebrate all aspects of their heritage instead of being forced to choose a single-race identity “have the best chance of success.” Talk to your children about successful Americans of mixed races: President Obama; actors such as Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves; the athletes Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter; and news anchors Soledad O-Brien and Ann Curry.
Books for children
Mixed Me: A Tale of a Girl Who Is Both Black and White by Tiffany Catledge and Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates.
Dolls for children
Visit www.pattycakedoll.com to find biracial and Hispanic dolls.
Visit www.4kidslikeme.com to find multicultural dolls.
Other resources
When Kids Face Racism at School is a national adoption magazine with information for caregivers regarding racial bullying experienced by adopted children. Visit www.adoptivefamilies.com.
Click here for key research findings about bullying.
Stop Bullying Now! is a website sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau.
To listen to an episode of “Mixed Race Radio” with a discussion on biracial bullying and when children are bullied due to skin color, hair texture, eye color or accents, click here and type in biracial bullying.
Is That Your Child?: Mothers Talk about Rearing Biracial Children is a book by Marion Kilson and Florence Ladd. They both are parents of biracial children.
Dr. Heather Harrison writes a blog about her biracial son at www.themommypsychologist.com.
Talking to Our Children about Racism & Diversity is a booklet written to help parents and children (between 5 and 8 years old) talk together about diversity and racism. It includes examples of children’s questions and some suggestions for answering them. Click here.
If your child is experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression along with self-rejection due to bullying based on race, please contact a child therapist.

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Multiracial Youth and Bullying

 

Bullying is a form of aggression used to gain power and targeting peers. When it’s based on ethnic differences it is another misuse of power. Biracial and multiracial youth are more likely to be bullied than youth who identify with a single race, according to the National Voices for Equality Education and Enlightenment. Twice as many ethnic minority youth in elementary school report being bullied because of their ethnicity.

There are three main types of bullying according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services:
1. Physical (e.g. hitting, kicking, tripping/pushing, spitting, taking/breaking belongings, making rude or mean hand gestures)

2. Verbal (e.g. name-calling, teasing, taunting, inappropriate sexual comments, threatening to cause harm)
3. Social/Relational (e.g. spreading rumors, embarrassing someone in public, purposeful exclusion, telling others not to be friends with someone)

So what can parents do?
It is important for parents to discuss the challenges that biracial and multiracial children may experience at school. Give them positive answers to the questions they may be asked; “What are you?” or “Why is your skin different from mine?”

Talk to the principals, teachers, and school counselors about ways to prevent and intervene with racially prejudiced bullying in classrooms by peers. Does your child’s school celebrate cultural diversity? Does the pre-school or kindergarten class have toys and books that represent all ethnic groups?
Research indicates that biracial and multiracial kids that are allowed to embrace and celebrate all aspects of their heritage instead of being forced to choose a single-race identity “have the best chance of success.” Talk to your children about successful Americans of mixed races: President Obama; actors like Halle Berry and Keanu Reeves; the athletes Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter; and news anchors Soledad O-Brien and Ann Curry. Read with them books like “Mixed Me: A Tale of a Girl who is both Black and White” by Tiffany Catledge, and “Big Hair, Don’t Care” by Crystal Swain-Bates.

The Cheerios commercial that featured a Caucasian mom, an African-American dad, and their biracial daughter generated strong racist reactions on YouTube last year (the comment section actually had to be closed). How do we teach adults to stop ethnic bullying and racial discrimination?
PBS’s cartoon “Sid the Science Kid” stars a bi-racial kid whose father seems to be Caucasian and his mother seems to be African-American. Talk to your kids about the positive message this show sends.

Some other helpful resources are: the article “When Kids Face Racism at School” in the national magazine Adoptive Families (www.adoptivefamilies.com/articles/2340/helping-adopted-child-racist-bullying-in-schools).
Stop Bullying Now! is a website is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. Visit www.stopbullying.gov.

Listen to a 2012 episode of Mixed Race Radio with a discussion on biracial bullying and when children are bullied due to skin color, hair texture, eye color or “the accent heard when they speak.” Visit www.blogtalkradio.com/mixed-race-radio/2012/04/04/biracial-bullying.
“Is that Your Child?: Mothers Talk about Rearing Biracial Children” is a book by Marion Kilson, Ph.D. and Florence Ladd, Ph.D. who are also parents of biracial children.

Dr. Heather Harrison writes about her biracial son and how to handle reactions at www.themommypsychologist.com/2012/06/01/lets-talk-about-biracial-kids.
“Talking to Our Children about Racism & Diversity” is a booklet written to help parents and children talk together about diversity and racism. It includes examples of children’s questions and some suggestions for answering them. It is for parents whose children are between five and eight years old. Visit www.civilrights.org/publications/reports/talking_to_our_children.

If your child is experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression along with self-rejection due to ethnic bullying, please contact a child therapist.

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is a child therapist, consultant, and educator in Ohio.