Since beginning this blog, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of having serious conversations about race with other multiracial families.
In talking with other multiracial individuals, it seems as if there’s been a common thread. Many of their parents didn’t talk to them about race.
For some, their culture lended itself to diversity, so there was no need to talk about race-culture is what united them.
For others, their parents didn’t know how to talk about it–or simply didn’t want to. That is a personal choice, however at some point, your child will come face to face with race.
Why not have the conversation so they can be prepared?
If you are raising your child in a small town that lacks diversity, sending your child to school can bring on some fears about what they will face. Here are a few ways that you can raise well adjusted multiracial children in schools that are not diverse:
Define Your Child’s Ethnicity Yourself
When I was enrolling my child in PreK for the first time, there wasn’t a multiracial option for ethnicity. When I mentioned it to the Pre-K director, she looked at me like I had 2 heads and told me to just check all that apply.
I was shocked that despite the fact that multiracial Americans are one of the fastest growing group in America, there wasn’t a multiracial option. So I did just that, I checked black and white.
America is becoming a minority-majority population. Be sure to choose the ethnicity that you want your children to identify as. Don’t allow others to choose that for you.
Advocate For Diversity in the School
If the school is hosting a special event, recommend minority or mixed race guest speakers.
Advocate for a multicultural festival to bring a variety of cultures to the school. Some kids many never be exposed without this kind of experience.
Teach Your Child to Advocate for Themselves
The questions will come.
“What are you?”
“What are you mixed with?”
“That’s your mom? I didn’t know she was ______.”
Teach your kids how to answer these kinds of questions. Some of the questions don’t require a response. Some questions require a strong affirmative response that teaches people to back off.
Decide what’s appropriate for your child and discuss this at home BEFORE the uncomfortable questions come.
No matter what kind of school your child attends, it’s important to be present and active in your child’s education.
Have regular conversations with your child’s teacher(s) about your concerns. Addressing concerns early in the year allows for a smooth year for your child and a proactive approach to solving problems.
This will also smash any stereotypes that teachers may have about multiracial families. Sad, but true.
Make Friends With Other Multiracial Families
It’s important for your kids to see other families like yours.
Even if your child is the only multiracial child in their class, it will be refreshing for them to spend time outside of school with other multiracial families.