Thursday, January 25, 2007

Bi-racial

Building on the discussion that's been going on here for the last couple of days, I've decided to accept the gracious invitation of some who have commented on my blog to pose questions I might have about African American culture, characteristics, beliefs, and so on.

In this case, though, I'm going to act as intermediary for a commentor and pose her question. I'm doing so with her permission. This is certainly a topic I'm interested in and I hope those of you out there who are living in similar demographics will once again provide your wisdom and insight.

As a side note, I've decided to change my label for these discussions from "Racism" to "Race and Human Relations." Maybe I'm wrong, but that seems like a more constructive label to me.

Let me introduce you to Rachel. She comes to DC Rush Hour via Sister Mary Lisa, a friend of mine in Montana. You may have seen her comment in the Apologies entry, but it's buried way down in the discussion and I wanted to bring her query to the front page, if you will. Hence, this entry. Rachel lives in Michigan and this is the comment she left on my blog:
I just found your blog and am incredibly glad that I did.

This is such a fantastic post and it brings up some angst that I harbor. I have a question for the African American readers if they would like to answer. I am caucasian. My son's father is African American. I am no longer with my son's (D) father. I am raising a bi-racial child in a mono-racial home. I try and be proactive and discuss things with D so that he can learn more about his diverse heritage and when I inquired, he told me that he percieves himself as black.

I am fine with that and want to embrace that part of who he is and teach him to grow up to be a good man. Whether he perceives himself as black, white, bi-racial or any other way doesn't matter to me, but I want to respect that part of him and encourage him.

How can I, as a caucasian woman, teach my son what he needs to know to survive and thrive in this society if he perceives himself as black? He does have contact with his father's family but I don't feel that this issue should be handled solely by them.

As I have no children--bi-racial or otherwise--I ask you, my readers to share your wisdom and insight. Are there books you would recommend? Are there organizations for bi-racial kids and their families? What would you suggest?

If you want to leave your comments here, that's great! We'll all benefit. If you'd like to email Rachel privately, you can find her email address here in her Blogger Profile.

7 comments:

Rachel said...

Janet ~ Thank you for posting my question, misspellings and all. lol
I really appreciate it and look forward to the dialogue.

JMK said...

Rachel: My pleasure. And I fixed your home state. You're now from Michigan! ;-)

DJ Black Adam said...

I understand your situation. First thing one has to be clear on, that the social reality, is that this child will be above all things “Black”. Being 100% African doesn’t make an “African American” or “Black” person here in the US, from Vin Diesel to Wesley Snipes, a Black man is a Black man.

Is it the best designation for the child? We’ll, the child is of two cultures and hopefully eventually celebrates them both, however the child must be taught what the social reality is that they will deal with day to day.

The best things to teach, is not to think of oneself as inferior no matter how many images he will encounter that forward and suggest that. Also, to not buy into the stereotypical images that are forwarded regarding what “Blackness” is or is not and to be 1st and foremost an individual of good character and conscience.

Even though he has to deal with the social realities, he must also remember that he is above and beyond those realities as an individual and his worth is what he makes it not what someone tries to define for him.

Peace.

PS, practically, as a Black male, always tell him to be careful around police officers, give them respect but to avoid them if at all possible and avoid people who attract the attention of law enforcement. It is easy for a Black male to be caught up in a system that already views them as the enemy, a system that really has the social reality that a half black man is still a full black man.

CreoleInDC said...

I'll come back to this one.

Gunfighter said...

Hi Rachel,

Do yourself a favor and don't overthink the issue.

Raise your son to be proud of whomever he has become. Give him good skills in relating to other people. Teach him to be courageous; teach him to respect himself and others....

As for his racial awareness... that will take care of itself. When he has questions, answer them honestly.

As for avoiding police officers... well, I have been a policeman for many years. People that have no reason to fear the police shouldn't bother avoiding the police. People that conspicuously avoid cops attract their attention.

Gunfighter said...

What I meant to say before I closed that comment, Rachael, is that if you raise him to be a good man, he'll be a good man, whatever label society hangs on him... or whatever label he hangs on himself.

DJ Black Adam said...

Hey Gunfighter:

You wrote:

"As for avoiding police officers... well, I have been a policeman for many years. People that have no reason to fear the police shouldn't bother avoiding the police. People that conspicuously avoid cops attract their attention."

Well first let me say I meant no offense in saying that. I have a lot of friends in Law Enforcement, most US Marshals (guys who went that route when we got out of the Corps).

Anyway, maybe the reality is different for you where you are at, however; in Chicago, we (black men) avoid the police. I didn't mean to evade, just to not hang around where they are around. Sure most cops are good cops, and if you aren't doing anything wrong they generally aren't concerned with you. HOWEVER, there are many here at least, that have set people up I have known, beat confessions out of young Black men that were (years later) reversed.

So I have to honestly say, in most Big Cities, I don't generally trust police officers. When I was young, I avoided them and stayed away from guys who got their attention. I know guys who got arrested for "mob action" because they were in a 2 block radius of some things that happened. I have had police officers pull over the car I was riding as a passanger in and ask me to get out of the car because I "fit the description".

So I didn't say "evade" I said "avoid".