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Black or Multiracial?: Raising Biracial kids

Black or Multiracial?: Raising Biracial Kids

The other day I came across a post from a fellow multiracial mama about how she refuses to call her biracial kids black but instead intentionally refers to them as multiracial or mixed.

It generated an interesting discussion about why, why not, and whether that is truly the message we should be giving our biracial children.

Biracial kids

What is their true identity? And, what, if any, is the message we as parents should be giving our children about their identity?

biracial kids
My oldest mixed race daughter

My own experience as mixed race Iranian/British growing up in Canada was that my parents just didn’t talk about identity. It left me confused, in denial and ashamed at times when teasing at school pointed out the differences in me.

My parents’ preference was not to talk about identity or the many cultures that made up who we are. Instead, they assumed that we (my brother and sister and I) would assimilate into Canadian culture if they just didn’t acknowledge our differences.

Unfortunately, there were enough reminders of what made us unique and different for us to remain confused. Food, family, language and culture around us were daily reminders even if we didn’t always look the part. Though my light skin and features allowed me to pass into the majority white culture, I knew my experience gave me away.

It was only at University when I was old enough to embrace my multiple identities that I began to meet other mixed race and biracial people and understood the benefit to acknowledging and discussing what being mixed race means in today’s world.

Because of that, I have always made it a priority to talk to my biracial kids about the multiple cultures and identities that make up who they are. When faced with the potential backlash that perhaps we talk about race and identity too much, I know that to ignore it and hope that it doesn’t become an issue is absolutely the wrong message we need to be giving our children.

So what message do we give our biracial children when their identity permeates the boundaries between black, brown, multiracial, mixed race, biracial, multicultural and all things in between. And does it mean they’re not just ‘black’?
Biracial kids
My DD2 wearing traditional Nigerian head wrap

Can they be both?

For me, being biracial can mean many different things at different times. Being black and white are not necessarily mutually exclusive though many mixed race celebrities in the US are conflicted.

While Taye Diggs refused to call his mixed son Black, Thandie Newton and Halle Berry only refer to themselves as Black women. And most famously of all, we didn’t often hear the former President Barack Obama referred to as mixed but instead the first black President of the United States.

So do I refer to my daughters as mixed, biracial or black and does it vary with each one depending on how many outward African features they’ve inherited as black girls?

I’ve come to see my biracial daughters’ identities as evolving. Evolving with age, and with their own experiences. And, like me, I know that at different times, they will identify accordingly.

When I was immersed in Iranian festivals and food and culture, I felt wholly and truly Iranian. Other times, I knew I could only partially lay claim to this identity and mixed Iranian and English felt a more appropriate term for how I felt. Still, there will be times, for example when I moved to England from Canada, when I feel my Canadian upbringing comes out strongly.

Identity is More than just a feeling… it’s an experience

My daughters will likely want to identify with the political solidarity that comes with black identity. They will, at times, feel very strongly about who they are as black women when they are faced with the injustices of discrimination and racism.biracial kids

They may, on the other hand, also be aware of their white privilege. And know that their experiences as part of a multicultural, multiracial family lent them different and perhaps more privileged experiences than that of other Nigerians.

How they are perceived by others will also influence how they identify themselves. But it is not our job as parents to teach our biracial children that they are only mixed and not just black or just white.

Instead, we should encourage them to be confident about who they are, to stand up to others whose perception doesn’t marry with their own experience and to embrace all the parts that make up their identity. Acknowledging all the while that this will change and identities will shift as they explore what that means for themselves.


10 Fun Free Ways to Celebrate your Multiracial Familybiracial children

My Biracial Hair Care Routine

My Biracial Daughters' Hair Care RoutineThere’s a lot written about biracial hair care and how to take care of it. But I find there’s nothing more real than seeing what curly biracial hair care routine the average Jo Mum does with her kid’s curly hair.

I have 3 mixed race daughters (mixed Iranian, Nigerian and English) and they all have different types of curls, length, texture and thickness.

biracial hair care routine

So we use a myriad of different products- some that change with the season, some that I use on one girls’ hair and not on the other, and some that are absolute staples in our house.

Here is a look at what we do as part of our daily mixed race biracial hair care routine.

My oldest daughter has the longest, perhaps loosest curls and her hair grows down as opposed to up. biracial hair care routine

biracial hair care routine

biracial hair care routine

Because her hair is made up of looser curls, I find I don’t need to apply thick gel or creme. I can get away with this Argan oil styling mousse which makes her hair both shiny and slippery to comb my fingers through. I do need to get her hair quite wet to be able to comb through though. And the thicker the hair, the more oil you’ll need to really penetrate all of the hair. My daughter’s curly hair care routine (for reference) takes me about 7-10 minutes to brush through and put into a protective style.

 


Biracial hair care routine
3b curls

Biracial hair care routine

This is my middle daughter. She has the shortest, most afro type biracial hair. Her hair grows in tight curls and gets dry the easiest. I usually wet it (a lot) before applying a generous amount of leave in conditioning cream.

I use a one or the other of these products to allow my fingers to comb through her hair easily. The wetness combined with the moisture from the products allows me to finger comb it easily but her hair is also quite fine so you may need to separate thicker hair into sections to get the same effect.

biracial hair care routine After this, I apply half a bottle cap amount of argan oil to give it shine and to keep it moisturised all day. **Note: always apply oil to wet hair or it won’t be absorbed into the hair. Her biracial hair care routine seems shorter somehow but still takes about 5-7 minutes.

 


My youngest daughter has a combination of both types of hair. It grows fast and down but it still has an afro-type texture in the front and in parts of the back.

Her biracial hair care requires a lot more moisturising as it’s also the thickest of all my daughters’ hair and gets the most tangled. I can’t usually finger comb through it after wetting it so I use a hair brush

(pictured above) with lots of Cantu conditioning creme.

Because she’s the youngest and has the thickest hair, I usually spend about 10-15 minutes on her curly hair care routine , combing through (without too much pain) and putting it into a protective style.

Here is the result after combing it through and moisturising it.

biracial hair care routine
The result


I will soon post about my weekly wash day biracial hair care routine as I know this can be a bit trickier. For insight, I generally use the Curly Ellie products as these are very gentle on the hair.

If you want to know where you can buy the best mixed kids hair products, hop on over to Best Online Shops to buy Curly Hair Products.

And don’t forget to download your curly hair do’s and don’ts for styling biracial hair and learning about mixed race hair products that will give you a few more tips and tricks you will swear by!

Raising Mixed Kids in a Colourism World

Best Online Shops to Buy Curly Biracial Hair Products
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