Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Mother's Day Afterthought

A belated but nevertheless sincere Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers! I've been waiting for an interracial (IR) topic to blog on and this is a good one. I mean, given that discussing current headlines, politics and the state of the world in general has been so depressing and/or discouraging that I had no desire to even attempt to comment on any of it. Thus the lack of blogging for awhile. Trust me, you would not have wanted to know my opinion on any of that.

We had a good Mother's Day weekend. One of the most special elements of my relationship with my wife is the fact that we are parents of biracial children. I am proud of my wife as the mother of our kids. We occasionally walk the line between two cultures with our children. I'm glad that most of the time we -- and our kids -- don't see any kind of daily clash between cultures. We make a point not to deny them access to either -- or any -- culture.

I think a parent's job is not to isolate their kids to only the parents' culture or community. I think that really limits a child's understanding of the world around them, which can follow them into adulthood and the rearing of future generations. I see way too much "cultural self-segregation" in virtually every culture.

I personally believe the unintended consequence of this is culturally institutionalized racism. It's subtle because it usually doesn't result in name-calling or violence or direct harm. What you do get is an unwillingness to learn other cultures, other communities, other foods, etc. And if people are not careful, this can result in the type of "cultural pride" that results in people avoiding and even looking down on other cultures. To me, that's racism.

To further clarify, I don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of the culture you come from or the accomplishments of people of one's culture or one's ancestors. What I mean by the racism is when one develops aggressive "cultural arrogance" and actively looks down on people of other cultures. I have seen individuals and families of all cultures do this, so it's not just any one culture that engages in these practices.

So, tying this back to Mother's Day, especially mothers of biracial or multiracial children, many of the ones I know or have met, tend to be more open to other cultures -- or at least the culture of their children's father.

I have also seen the sad example of IR couples where only one culture is infused in the children and the other parent's culture is minimized in the upbringing. These are "One Drop Children," using the "One Drop Rule" mentality (one drop of [insert race here] blood in your veins makes you [whatever race]).

We, as parents, have such an incredible responsibility to our children. If at all possible, we owe them two parents, a mother and a father, to help them feel loved and protected and properly nurtured.

Will we make mistakes in raising them? Absolutely, that's a part of being a parent: recognizing and learning from our mistakes and doing our best not to repeat them.

I am not saying anything negative about single parents. I have seen wonderful examples of single parents, female and male, where there was a divorce or a death. In all fairness, I have also seen good single parents who were never married; they just had to do much more to rise to the occasion of single parenthood. Parenting is always more difficult, though not impossible, with the absence of one parent.

Are there examples of bad two-parent families? Definitely! Half of all pregnancies (probably more) are not planned and some should have been planned. Some people just aren't ready to be parents or should not become parents, period.

Understanding all of this, I thank God for my wife, the mother of my children. She loves our children with a pure love, the same love she has for me. We are an IR married couple with biracial children and a truly special family.

Best Wishes,

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