Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Beginning, The Purpose, The Mission

I am a black woman who is married to a white man. We are raising two daughters: the first is a teenager, mine from a prior marriage. Her skin is brown like mine and her father's, but she identifies herself as "a person." When you look at her, you would probably call her an African American child, but my daughter dislikes that phrase. "Mom, I have friends whose parents are from AFRICA. They're the African Americans. We're something else." She's right.

Her quest for identity is a part of the reason why I felt compelled to start this blog.

My second daughter is only 4 years old. She is mine too, and her father is my current husband, Kevin. He's Irish American, older than me and proud as a peacock of her. Most of the time when I look at her, I see a white girl... with suspiciously frizzy hair. When Kevin looks at her, however, he sometimes see more of me-- especially in the way her skin browns in the summer sun (his just reddens).

Her quest for identity hasn't yet begun...but it's a part of why I wanted to right this blog.

My husband works in financial sales, but I write. I'm known for writing a bit about interracial relationships-- Don't Bring Home A White Boy (And Other Notions That Keep Black Women from Dating Out) specifically-- and race, relationships and how we navigate the spaces between "me" and "we" are interesting to me. I want to write about those as they crop up in our lives. That, too, is a reason for this blog.

What I have found lately is that, while there are blogs that deal with parenting mixed children, blogs for black women, blogs for white men, blogs about relationships, blogs about marriage, etc. there's not much written about what it means to be a multi-racial family. I suspect I know at least one of the reasons:

The real truth about multiracial families is that first and foremost, we're FAMILIES. We deal with the same stuff as any other family: conflicts of time, money and generation. In my home, racial issues are often secondary to paying the mortgage, following up on the girls' academic performance, figuring out who's going to pick up from cheerleading practice, why we always seem to be out of milk, and how to fix what's broken now.

I want to write about these issues, too, because they emphasize a critical point: an family is a family. It doesn't matter that my husband and I are different races. It matters how we raise these girls. It matters how he deals with step-parenting. It matters how I teach my teenager about boys and sex and becoming a woman-- even though I came of age in a very different time than hers. It matters how we balance our resources to give them opportunities to learn about their talents. It matters how we stay connected to each other as husband and wife.

I want this blog to be about those things, too. Because what we are living in this life in black and white is always a LIFE first.

But of course, this blog will also be about race. It will be about the times that my husband's "white male privilege" reminds us both that in the eyes of the world, he gets the benefit of the doubt, while I may still have something to prove (or disprove). It's about the larger world of data and politics that impacts our lives or how others see us. And the places where our disparate upbringing and experiences cause us to see the world from wildly different points of view. It's about how we reconcile those differences... and the occasions when we don't.

So, welcome to my blog. Meet my family... and feel free to comment on this Diary of Our Lives in Black and White.


  1. One of the beauties of the teenage years is that they end, LOL!

    I remember my teenaged son being embarrassed that he had two parents who were actually married to each other coming to school events and conferences!! It made him feel different and corny compared to his friends who were all being raised by cool single mothers. He was teased because we acted “white” with our rules for he and his brother’s conduct and academics. I remember being shocked and really disappointed that he would care that much about what his peers thought. He’s now 24 years old and my husband and I are recently divorced and just, as you would suspect he’s heartbroken about it.

    Karen, I wholeheartedly agree with you sending her stepfather to pick her up because when she comes around and realizes that he is more important to her than her friend’s opinions she’ll be grateful that he wasn’t moved by her attitude.

  2. My father is Black, and my mother is Chinese. I learned quickly that love and tolerance truly conquers all. The teen years weere difficult for me, too. Thank you for writing this awesome blog. I will be reading! :)

  3. "We deal with the same stuff as any other family" Right to the point! I love how you describe your family, it's exactly what I have been thinking. So glad to have stumbled upon your blog!

  4. This is an odd question, but, is your husband full blooded Irish? if his family was in America a while, he could be Irish with French with Cherokee with German, Etc.Ive noticed the Cherokees had a lot of kids with whites

  5. Hi Kathleen,

    He's full-blooded Irish. Both his parents emigrated from Ireland in the '40s.


  6. WOW YOU SURE ANSWER QUICK--y'know, blacks and irish goes back a long way-they were indentured servants in this country--the term 'mammy' is Irish Gaelic

  7. I might add; but they didnt go through what we went through--'reconstruction' 'jim crow' although, they had discrimination that was short-lived