The truth is having children has motivated me in a major way to examine my own perceptions and subconscious reactions, because I want my kids to feel proud of who they are and their community(s), and that means recognizing and fighting my own stereotypes, however ashamed and embarrassed I am of them.
As I think about raising my sons to be healthy, responsible, caring individuals, I realize how much the stereotypes and racism inherent in our culture have infiltrated my own psyche, like some stealthy virus.
We ourselves don’t have to believe or accept the stereotype to be forced to deal with the contingencies; it’s enough for others to believe it.
The one day after Zippy was born, while walking across the parking lot of the grocery store, it dawned on me what I was doing and why, and it became disturbingly evident to me that I was feeding into racism myself. And while I truly believe this in my heart, it wasn’t being reflected by my behavior, which was suggesting that my husband needed to be a certain kind of black guy to be respected and accepted in the white community.
And, fortunately, I had underestimated my friends, none of whom batted an eye when they found out Hubby was black.
(At least, if they did, they hid it very well.) The truth is that when we finished grad school and moved to a new town, I was aware that the fact my partner was black would affect how people saw me.
I’m married to a black man and my sons are biracial. The truth is that I thought about race before I decided to date my husband and race made me hesitate.
So it seems like I should be color-blind myself, thinking of race only when the outside world brings it up or when considering how to raise my children to be proud and at-ease with their racial identities. I didn’t worry how my family would feel, but I worried what my friends would say.