Every morning I wake up by the alarm that is my 3 year-old stomping down the stairs. She then burrows herself in our bed and is nothing but chatter as she boasts about how she has slept through the night all by herself. I then get up, get myself and the kids dressed, let the dog out and kiss my husband goodbye as we head off to our respective jobs with a mouth-full of whatever we have grabbed to eat on our way out of the door. Day after day pretty much the same routine with rarely a thought about being a black woman married to a white man raising bi-racial children. We live in Houston, Texas which is a beautiful melting pot of multi-cultural goodness and I love that my kids are able to grow up in such diversity.
The other day my family and I were at a popular restaurant when and older white gentleman, maybe in his early 70’s, came up to me and said “you have a beautiful family”. As I saw him approach our table, I have to admit, out of nowhere I got the feeling of wanting to protect my children from hearing something hateful that he might say. I had never really experienced this before, perhaps too comfortable in my daily routine bubble, but this fear gripped me out of nowhere. How beautiful it was to hear him say such a complement especially knowing that the generation that he grew up in would not have been so accepting. After replaying this over in my mind it made me think about the lives of my children as they grow up and how much progress (and how far we still have to go) has been made in the acceptance of bi-racial families. I wanted to share with them an open letter that they are too young to understand now but one day will appreciate from their black mother married to their white father.
1. It Wasn’t Always Acceptable
It’s always baffling to me that it’s only been 51 years that bi-racial marriage has been legal and recognized in the United States. My 60+ year old parents and in-laws and the man that approached us as we ate our breakfast lived in a time where what we have was not acceptable. Where families like ours had to hide or only go out in certain places at certain times. Even when daddy and I were dating family members told us that what we were doing was “taboo” and that our children would have a hard life if we continued our relationship into marriage. Your great grandfather whom you will never meet and who I barely knew was disapproving of me and daddy’s relationship. Even on his death bed I chose to stay in the background because I didn’t want the thought of his grandson marrying a black woman to be a sad thought during his last days. Although my grandparents were gone before I was born, who knows, they may have felt the same way about daddy being on our family tree. Life goes on and each day the love that our family shares despite race becomes more and more the norm. Never take for granted the people that have paved the way to make that happen.
2.You NEVER Have to Choose
People may ask you if you are more black or more white. You NEVER have to choose. The answer is that you are equal parts awesome! Don’t let the confines of check boxes on applications put YOU in a box. When I was in school I remember people telling me that I “acted white”. And you know what, I wore that “oreo” title like a badge. I know better now. Never let people tell you who you are or that you act a certain race. And on a separate note, good grammar is not a race thing it’s just good English.
3.You Can Do and be Anything
When daddy and I think about the times when a few people said if we had children they would have a hard life, it gives us a big laugh! You kids are blessed! Not because you are bi-racial but because you live in America with family that adores you, and you never have to worry about anything. You were born at a time where there was a bi-racial president and a bi-racial American girl turned Duchess of Sussex over-night. You can do anything you put your mind to and mommy and daddy are going to do our best to present you with opportunities as you grow to watch you thrive.
4. Always Expose Yourself to Different Cultures
One of me and daddy’s favorite things to do together is to travel. We can’t wait to do more with you guys and watch as you discover new and exciting things. We promise to show you the world starting at a young age so that you grow to appreciate different cultures, and languages, and foods, and music. There is so much to see out there! Learn Italian! Get really good at making sushi! Study abroad! Take in all this world has to offer. My hope for you is that you always keep an open mind. Open hearts and open minds is what allowed mommy and daddy to be together in the first place.
5. People Will Be Curious
People will ask to touch your hair or ask you “what are you” or “what are you mixed with”. People wanting to touch your hair will be weird. You don’t have to be shy in sharing who you are with people. Say it proudly! Always take time to educate and inform others. You could change their whole perspective! Sometimes when I am out with you guys people will ask me if you are my kids. I am so proud to tell them that you are (and have gotten past the feeling of being slightly offended that someone would even ask!)
6. Your Family Loves You No Matter What
You have such a big support system of family and friends that are basically family that there is no way that you could possibly fail at life. 5 aunts, 3 uncles, 6 grandparents, 9 cousins, and 6 dogs that love you very much. Although there are times when family members disagree, one thing is for sure, we can all agree that we want nothing more than to see you thrive! My biggest prayer for you is not that you have all the riches in the world but that you grow up to be kind, decent humans. That you love others and that you take care of each other.
In closing my loves, be proud of who you are. Your curly hair, your mocha skin, your gapped teeth, your nose like your Grand, and eyes like your dad. You were made with love and I hope that mommy and daddy can serve as a guide for you when you fall in love. Don’t be afraid to shake up the family tree! Whomever you choose to marry, I am probably going to give them a hard time anyway because I am your mom and you are my baby.
Special thanks to Willow & Pine Photography for taking these gorgeous pictures of my family. You captured all of us so beautifully and we will cherish these photos forever. If you are looking for excellent family photography check out Willow & Pine or check out this special offer just in time for the holidays with a set stylist that has designed for Junkin’ Gypsies, Miranda Lambert, and has been featured on HGTV!