The Way We Identify

On October 18, 2011, in Biracial, by Honeysmoke

For some reason, I am always meeting parents of biracial and multiracial children. Maybe I attract them to me. Maybe I have a special radar that I use to seek them out. Whatever the case, these parents and I start talking about something basic and then one of us says something and the other picks up on it. The next thing I know we are sharing pictures of our children and swapping stories.

The latest encounter involved a white mother of a 41-year-old black man. We were talking about art and then writing. We talked about raising children and about race.  She had a photo of her son on her cell phone as well as a print that she keeps with her.

We chatted about the one-drop rule and how her son has always identified as black. She added that although she raised a black man and identified with the culture, she couldn’t use the word we. She couldn’t start phrases with “Well, we black folks” because, well, she wasn’t black.

It makes sense to me. If you’re raising a child of another race, you’d probably become part of the community. If you became part of the community, you’d probably feel some ownership. But this mother knew it was not acceptable for her to strongly identify with the culture.

I started to wonder whether I had ever done that. I don’t think so.

Have you noticed you can’t claim something your child can? If so, how did you deal with it?

 
  • Oh, yes, I’ve heard about this from folks who have older children. I’ll try not to take it personally.

  • Blanc2

    When they become teenagers they make it abundantly clear that you can never claim any of the spheres to which they see themselves belonging. Indeed you become an embarassment. Prepare yourself for the first time they ask you to drop them off two blocks from their destination so they can walk the rest of the way — obviously because they don’t want their peers to see you in their company.