On Being Biracial: “She’s Our White Baby”
One of the interesting things about being half-Asian and half-Caucasian and having children with someone who is also half-Asian and half-Caucasian is that our children actually look like us. Well, what I really mean is that strangers think they look like us. Paul and I both look like our parents but growing up we were often perceived as being a different race from one or both of them. As a result, our parents endured so many instances of strangers assuming they were the nanny, teacher, friend, boyfriend (ick!) and even abductor, or in my dad’s case, laundry thief (when he was retrieving clothes from the local laundromat for my mom).
Back then biracial couples were not the norm and biracial children weren’t either. Strangers were always trying to figure out how my family went together. As a child, I was confused by this because it was so simple. Japanese dad, Caucasian mother, two kids that look half and half. Done. What’s so hard about that?
Times have changed a lot and there are so many mixed-race children, I honestly don’t even know if I can count how many there are at my kids’ school alone. It seems like less of an issue, but maybe the reason we don’t notice it very much is because our entire family is biracial and looks that way. At least we did. That is until baby Eve came along. Blue-eyed, pale skinned baby Eve with a glimmer of red in her hair. She’s our white baby.
When people meet her, it’s the first thing they notice. I know exactly what they’re thinking and always break the ice by saying “Yep, she’s our white baby!” They breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I know what they were thinking and I’m cool with it. Of course I am. It’s funny how genes work. Because we have Caucasian genes on both sides, it makes sense that Eve has blue eyes, pale skin, and just generally looks white. We could have just as easily had a very Asian looking baby.
Of course this is not to say that Eve doesn’t look like us. She does. People tell me she looks like me all the time. She also resembles her siblings. But, as Paul and I know too well, sometimes the real resemblance gets overshadowed by race. And I can’t help but wonder if, in the future, people won’t realize that she’s Emmett and Isla’s sister right away. How will I explain people’s natural reaction to her features as compared to the rest of us and how she will feel about it?
I want to be as open and honest about race as I can with my children. I want them to be proud of all of their cultural heritage and how they look. With Eve, I feel like we have some time to figure things out but time goes fast and I’m nowhere near an answer. Do you have any good advice? How do you talk to your kids about race?