Good evening all! I’m so excited to share this interview with you. Since starting this blog in July, I’ve had a variety of people reach out to me through social media outlets. My biggest following to date is on Instagram. I love interacting with other moms, especially those that understand the joys and trials of raising biracial children.
What does a school counselor and therapist have in common? Apparently a whole lot! Tiffany Coleman and I have never met, but talked for close to an hour about growing up biracial and all things race and raising kids. Let’s jump right to it…..
Diedre: So tell me a little bit about yourself.
Tiffany: I am one of 4 girls, all biracial. My mom is Caucasian from Oklahoma. My biological dad passed away at 5, and he was from Africa. I was born in the early 80’s and being in an interracial relationship wasn’t as common as it is now. My mom’s parents had issues with their relationship until all of us (girls) were born, and that softened their hearts. Being African, my dad didn’t understand black culture in America. He was a pilot as well as a politician; he sought to improve the civil rights in Africa. Unfortunately I don’t have many memories because he went back and forth between Africa and America.
My mom remarried in 3rd grade to a white man,half American and half German. In our house, we never talked about race, I just think it was never a big deal, so it was never brought up. My sisters and I got looks from people because they assumed we were adopted. It was a game, where will people think we’re from today?
Diedre: Where did you grow up?
Tiffany: I grew up in Dallas/Ft. Worth area. It was very diverse, so in high school I wasn’t the odd one out.
Diedre: What was your childhood like?
Tiffany: My mom’s sister married a Hispanic man. My cousins were half Hispanic, but most of them looked Caucasian. The world around me was Caucasian. I was never around the black side of the family because Dad’s family was in Africa. Our church was predominantly white. In my mind, I thought that if mom would’ve married white guy, I would just be white. It’s not that I was ashamed of who I was, but everyone around me was white, I thought it was easier to be white.
Diedre: What was your school experience like?
Tiffany: My hair was really curly and I didn’t know how to take care of it. I wanted my hair to be straight throughout elementary and middle school. When I got into high school, I finally realized, wow this is a good thing. I grew into myself and made friends. All my classmates and friends said, oh you’re so pretty, so I embraced it much more in high school. In middle and elementary school, didn’t see it as an asset.
I always felt like she fit in more with white peers because I identified with them and they accepted me more. As an adult, I could still say that. In SAT and went to college, checking black and white wasn’t an option. I felt like I had to pick a race. I always picked black because I knew that’s how people would perceive me. Society made it that way. Black girls shunned me if black guys liked me because in their mind I was white.
Diedre: When did you realize you were biracial?
Tiffany: I guess I always knew I was different, but because we didn’t talk about race at home, I never thought about it too much. In high school, I realized that I have a year round tan, and my hair can be curly or straight. My sisters had different genes so our experiences were all different. People would make comments like, if we just covered your face you would look like a white girl. People in high school would ask what are you. I thought they were talking about class rank. No, what’s your race they would say and it finally hit me. I gravitated more to the Caucasian sides because culturally it was familiar to me.
Diedre: Talk to me about your husband, and your family life.
Tiffany: I got along with black girls and dated all white guys, until my husband. I even shocked myself by marrying him and my friends were just as surprised. You’re the whitest black girl I know, my friends would say. In my head I thought, because I am white too. I have two step children who are also have white. My two children, Tristan and Kennedy are only 1/4 white. My struggle has been, does that 1/4 count? Kennedy, my baby girl took after her daddy. People have made comments. Is that your daughter, she looks nothing like you? That’s what made me click on your website.
Diedre: That was the inspiration for my blog. The comments people made about my children were hurtful. I decided to put some action behind my vents and empower myself and other mothers. We don’t owe society explanations about why our children’s skin color doesn’t match ours.
Tiffany: Good point. In my head, I’ve thought, people are going to think your kids are black, so it’s something she’s had to pray about. I want to be able to help my daughter see that’s not what matters. If people don’t see it, it doesn’t take away from the fact that she’s my daughter. When people make rude comments, I always think of a response after the fact.
People don’t understood the magnitude of their words until they walk this walk.
Kennedy will have a different experience than me. People have said to me, You have beautiful good hair, did she get hair like you? One day she will understand things people say even though she doesn’t get it now. People say ignorant insensitive things. I’m already anticipating that. Trying to get ready for that.
I’ve thought, I’ll just mark black because people will never think they are white. After reading your blog, I’m going to start marking white because it’s part of who they are. We live 7 minutes from my parents. We see them a lot, so being white is a huge part of who they are.
Being a therapist, I am self reflecting. I have to think, mm I operating out of my own wounds? Or is it a thoughtful process?
Diedre: What advice can you give me, and other mothers raising biracial children?
Tiffany: Let the kids be themselves. God made you exactly how he wanted you. This is how you’re supposed to be. Nothing in it is a mistake. Your child is not a weird phenomenon. The age we live is more diverse, there are at least 3 biracial kids in my son’s class. Kids don’t see differences unless it’s brought to their attention. The world needs to be more like this. We see too much in color.
It’s going to be okay. We fear things for our kids. We don’t want them to go through bad things, but those things shape us. We are beautiful not just because of how we look, but because of who we are as a person.
If we raise intelligent children who can be confident in who they are, they will be okay. Finding the balance is important. 27 years later I’m still figuring out, it’s a process.
What an amazing experience! I’m so glad that the things I experience and how I view them are resonating with other parents. If you’d like to follow Tiffany, check her out on Instagram (@colemancrew6).
What would your advice be for parents raising biracial/multiracial children?
Are you following the blog? Follow me to keep up with all the exciting conversations. See you next week!