Kimberly, Donell, Jaylen, Serena and Mina. Eastvale, CA
Raising biracial children from two different cultures from your own is a special task. Both Kimberly and Donell are African American and raising half black biracial children together. Kimberly’s son is half white and Donell’s daughters are half Asian. Kimberly introduces us to her blended multiracial family and explains the dynamic of raising them under the same roof and in turn, what she’s learning about herself. Not exactly The Brady Bunch, but it’s definitely her complete blended family.
How do you identify yourself racially?
Did having a multiracial family factor into where you live?
I live here in Eastvale because this is where my husband had a home. The fact that we are a multiracial family has nothing to do with why we are here.
How did your families respond to you being in an interracial relationship?
My husband is actually African American as well, but I have dated outside of my race in the past. My son’s Jaylen’s biological father is White, so I know first hand what it is like to be in an interracial relationship, and know the concerns that come with it. My parents have never had a problem with me dating outside of my race, but they did often wonder if I was even interested in going the distance with a black man.
Do you know many other multiracial families? Is your community mixed?
We know TONS of mixed race families who live in our community or near by. Eastvale is actually home to many mixed race families-more than I have seen anywhere else.
Have you explained to your child what their racial makeup is?
Yes. All of our children know that they are biracial and what to expect. With my son, I have had to explain to him that he is both black and white, but also letting him know the “one drop” rule- that even though he is “high yellow”, he will still be considered black for most of his life.
Have you felt any sort of conflict from outsiders or even family?
Yes! My son is extremely pale and barely has any of my color. When he was first born, people often assumed I was babysitting. Now that my son is older you can see the resemblance and how he has many of my features, but we still get the looks.
What are your thoughts on the saying, “mixed raced children are so beautiful”? Do you feel it is a compliment or does it bother you? Why?
It does bother me because I feel that the media harps on the idea that the lighter you are the better. There are too many insecurities that come with being a particular shade, and I would hate to contribute to that in any way, especially with my children. I notice that both of my children have been tainted my the media to some extent. They’ve brought up skin tone as a topic of conversation. When I hear this, I usually put a stop to that nonsense. As a young girl, I was one of the only black girls in my class and I constantly dealt with ridicule and harassment because I was the “dark girl”.
How do you teach your child about their ethnicity/heritage through traditions/customs?
Unfortunately I don’t teach my children about their heritage through traditions or rituals, partly because I was never taught those types of traditions growing up. However, when racial conversations come up in the media or through any other avenue, my husband and I make sure we discuss it with them. I think it’s important for them to understand why, historically, certain issues are happening in our world today.
Do you find you consciously lean to one side more than the other?
I obviously lean towards black culture when it comes to choosing a side. My son’s father was never in his life, so he doesn’t have any connection to that part of his heritage.
How does your extended family aide in developing ethnic identity?
I think just being there is a great way for our children to understand their identity, especially for my step-daughter. As mentioned, her mother is Asian and there are certain things that black women deal with that her mother would never understand. The women in my family have been able to help and teach her a few things.
You’re in a blended family with two bonus biracial daughters of a different racial makeup. Did you find any personal difficulties at first?
We had a few issues in the beginning. I think their ideas about black women were distorted because they were opinions expressed by their mother. Opinions that would put down black women or look down on anyone who was a darker complexion. One of my daughters has even mentioned the idea that my son is lucky because he is so light. We’ve had many conversations about the beauty and strength of African American women-I think I’ve been able to change at least some of their views.
How does your culture factor in to your parenting?
I think I’ve adopted the attitude of “mama don’t play” when it comes to raising my kids. I have no tolerance for disrespect, and if a child were to ever tell an adult “no”, it would be the end of the world for them in my book. I’m of course exaggerating, but I can definitely say that my grandmother’s ways have been a huge influence as far as how I discipline my children.
Do you find you have a different response to helping to raise your daughters and raising your son?
With our biracial children being raised by two black parents, race most definitely comes up as a topic of conversation. We discuss similarities as far as both of them being half black, and differences as far as one being half Asian and the other half White. Even though we are all different shades, we identify as being a black family. However, at the end of the day, regardless of skin tone, we are content with just being family.