It’s Father’s Day coming up and as parents of mixed race kids, it’s a challenge to find gifts that feature multiracial families. Why shouldn’t Dads of mixed kids enjoy the same original, personalised gifts featuring their multiracial families? Why shouldn’t they see themselves and their families represented?
Well, we decided to put together a list of some great ideas for the Dads in your life who deserve to see themselves represented in your gifts. Take a look below and tell us what you think!
How about a book featuring Multiracial Dads and their kids?
If Books don’t work for you, try out these gifts that you can personalise with your own family photo, kids’ drawings or personalise yourself with Dad’s unique features. Get the kids involved in choosing and drawing and it’ll be extra personal. With all that thought going into it, there’s no doubt he’ll appreciate the uniqueness of your gift!
Other great ideas are photo gifts that print one of your amazing family photos onto mugs, cushions, mouse pads and more!
Try some of these ideas and if you have any more, do tag us on facebook, twitter or comment below and we’ll make sure to add it to our list! Hope the men in your life enjoy Father’s Day!
There has been a lot written about the royal wedding since it aired on over 30 million television sets across the globe. Most of it is positive- even dramatically praiseworthy. Meghan’s dress, her poise, Harry’s nervousness, Prince Charles walking Meghan down the aisle and of course, who could forget Rev Curry’s poignant yet dramatic address. The day was filled with elegance and style but perfectly choreographed to pay homage to both sets of cultures uniting as one.
I watched William and Kate’s wedding with interest seven years ago, having never watched the amazing performance the Royal machine puts on during one of these affairs.
And yet, this one stood out, not just because it incorporated the same pomp and performance that is behind all of the Royal Family events. But because of who it involved.
These six images below captivated my little ones’ faces.
WINDSOR, UNITED KINGDOM – MAY 19: Meghan Markle leaves St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle after her wedding with Prince Harry on May 19, 2018 in Windsor, England. (Photo by Brian Lawless – WPA Pool/Getty Images)
For the same cliche reasons that many black Americans and Brits have been going on about. Let it not be overstated. This was history in the making.
And representation matters. Meghan shook up an establishment that is centuries’ old where black faces are/were rarely seen. (“They were coming out of every stockroom the BBC could find!”- one of my family members joked.)
And to have so many front and centre- to see a ‘princess’ (and I say this knowing that she will not officially get the title) who is biracial and PROUD! marrying into such an old, white and stodgy establishment. Well, what an absolute mind blower.
I cried and laughed for the same reasons that most others did watching. But I also cried for my children- because IF this is how the Royal Family wish to go forward, they have made a statement of intention that is both progressive and welcome.
Our children will grow up knowing and seeing a woman part of the royal family who is a feminist, an ambassador for growing up mixed race, proud of her black roots and most of all, willing and able to push against even the most stubborn of barriers.
It was a day that will go down in the history books and one that I’m certain my three daughters won’t forget. When they looked at Meghan and commented, “she’s mixed like ME!”, I knew it was a moment to remember….
Next step is for Meghan to wear her curly hair natural!
That first day when I realised my kid was global both in heritage and in mindset was when she was three. My Mum and I were talking at the kitchen table, and the subject of China came up in conversation. My firstborn piped up, “Mama, did we fly over China to get to Canada?”
She’s referring to our move from Nigeria to Canada. And, no, we didn’t fly over China. But to hear the question come from a 3 year old suggested she knew that it was both a country far away and that other places in the world existed outside of her familiar environment. We hadn’t spoken about China before but her exposure, we knew, already included an array of foreign countries.
We didn’t set out to be raising multicultural kids in our mixed race family but as our family is made up of Nigerian, Iranian, English and Canadian heritage, it just sort of happened.
This birth advantage grew after being accepted to a genuinely international school in Lagos, Nigeria. Friends of hers hailed from all over- South Africa, Netherlands, India, Greece, America, England, Israel, Lebanon and of course, Nigeria.
It was and still is normal for her friends to speak two, if not more languages and having parents of different colours/ races was no big deal.
Even When You Stop Travelling, Raising Multicultural Kids Can Still Be Easy
We’re now living in London, England. And as she becomes more aware, she’s also talking more about accents, vocabulary, geography and social norms. We have realised that raising multicultural kids sort of comes with the territory when parents hail from different parts of the globe.
And my daughter’s accent, having lived in 3 different continents in her 6 short years, and vocab shifts according to whom she’s talking to.
Like any child with access to an ipad, her favourite shows include BBC’s Ben and Holly alongside American cartoons Paw Patrol and Lego Friends. She’s savvy enough to realise the characters speak differently and that “Hi guys” is not common all over the world.
For her, asking Mama where the garbage is and saying, “Odaro” (goodnight in Yoruba) to grandparents via facetime is normal. For her, assuming “Nepa took light” (an affectionate way of referring to the frequent power outages in Lagos) when the phone cuts midway through phone calls with grandparents and cousins that are two shades darker than her, is normal.
And showing off her collection of shopkins to cousins three shades lighter, blonde and blue eyed, in Canada where the 15 inch snow glistens off their window is also just as normal.
She doesn’t yet know that friends won’t know what she’s talking about when the day comes she proudly refers to her “Bababozorg” (Farsi for her maternal grandfather). Just as it came as a surprise to her recently when her friend asked her why she was referring to the ‘bathroom’. What’s that?, her friend asked.
Games every other day include role play as a waitress carrying a pizza. Not in her hand though. “On my head”, she insists, “like they do in Nigeria”.
Dressing up as a princess includes a jewel-like ‘bindhi’ in the middle of her forehead “because it’s pretty”. And books at night spin riveting tales of African villagers, Middle Eastern parables and American kids playing on the ‘teeter totter’ and doing ‘somersaults’.
So Does Raising Multicultural Kids Take Effort?
Yes and no. We didn’t set out to give our daughters such varied exposure. We both love travelling but we thought learning about the world came later, when children are interested in learning about their own history and culture.
But without our intervention, it’s just happened. Our daughter’s everyday exposure and experience is littered with variety growing up in a mixed race family. And that is the key, exposing your children to diversity as part of each and every experience- intentional or not.
Whether we tried to, just her being is a mixture of colour, race, history, culture and language. As mixed race kids, we were bound to be raising multicultural kids and perhaps there’s no getting around it these days.
So in that respect the term ‘third culture kid’ is perhaps outdated. Kids can’t help but be soaking up four, five even ten different cultures blended into their little beings.
So when their experiences span continents, their loved ones hail from different corners of the globe and their conversations are packed with language, intonation and dialects bridging nations. Raising multicultural kids becomes unintentional and it gives new meaning to the word ‘globalisation’.
Someone asked me today, why do you love living in London? I admit it has taken us years to get where we are, to feel settled in a way where both of us and our multiracial family can admit this feels like ‘home’- for awhile at least.
Our journey around the world to get here has been interesting, though restless. Starting out in Wales where my husband and I met, we felt out of place, alone and often resentful at having to drive to London so often to visit friends and family. South West England was better but it too had different issues that niggled at us. Its segregated feel, drawn along false economic lines made us feel uncomfortable as a multiracial family, knowing our loyalties lay on both sides but our economics pushed us to one more than another.
Our journey to Edmonton, Canada (where I grew up) and then eventually Lagos, Nigeria (where hubby grew up) were both attempts for us to feel grounded and settled. And though both were satisfying in many different ways, the pull was always back to London.
So what is it with this place that keeps us coming back? And what has finally made us feel like this has more of what we’ve been looking for? As a multiracial family, I’ve always been told it’s important to find somewhere neutral for both partners- a place that isn’t home for either of you and that you can both forge an identity starting from scratch.
And that’s exactly what we’re doing. Starting out in London has been an entirely new beginning, from finding schools for our daughters, to researching areas to live, tradespeople for jobs and transport to get places, all the knowledge we’d built up as a couple over time was wiped for us to start again.
We don’t complain though. For me, it’s been exhausting with three kids but strangely enjoyable. From the smog of Lagos to the emptiness of Edmonton, London has offered us more than we could even imagine.
But the most important thing I love is its diversity. Not just from a race point of view but from every different angle, you see people doing their own thing.
Not only that but Londoners are even trying to be different so they can stand out from the crowd. Sure, you get that everywhere but perhaps not on the scale that you do in a big city such as London.
The Diversity of London
I love that the guy who helped me pull my pram onto the bus the other day was black transvestite male. I love that my daughter asked out loud whether he was a girl or boy and he answered her with a smile.
I love that my eldest daughters’ class has at least ten kids from mixed black/white families, that there are over 15 different languages spoken in the class and that my daughter actually wants to speak a different language so she can be like her friends.
I love that I was with my 3 biracial daughters and 2 of their friends who are black and it was assumed they were all mine by a passerby.
I love that our friends consist of families of all different colours and mixes, even with seemingly monoracial families, the mixes span cultures and religions and this is normal.
I love that I can point out beautiful, smart, curly-haired women everyday to my daughters on our way to school.
I love that my daughters’ friends include kids of all different abilities and this is also normal..
I love that the tube was filled with blue and purple haired girls the other day inspiring my daughter to imagine her own self with purple hair.
I love that the bus journey into the city is littered with shops selling all sorts of wear such as elaborate costumes, beautiful wooden instruments and ornate, kitsch furniture that looks as if it belongs in a palace.
I love that my daughter thinks every ornate gate in London is Buckingham Palace.
I love that I can find festivals, traditions and days out featuring not just one but all of their multiracial heritage (Iranian, Nigerian and Canadian).
I love that police officers ride horses and wear funny hats.
I love that the Science Museum is free, workshops are led by young diverse students and that we’ve been three times in three months and each time we’ve had a completely different experience- all positive.
I love that my daughters have seen a West End show already 3 times in their life.
I love that hubby and my date night was at a restaurant that is filled floor to ceiling with beautiful Victorian paintings-and it wasn’t pretentious.
I love that Chinese New Year wasn’t just celebrated at my daughter’s nursery, they actually paid a visit to Chinatown to get the real experience.
If you’re in a multiracial family, consider this…
There is more I could list but I think you get the picture. For a multiracial family, it’s not perfect but it’s as close as you can get I think if you’re looking for diversity and representation.
I just want to appreciate out loud that the last three years have been up and down but we are here in this place, at this time for a reason and as I contemplate ‘home’, I realize it is here.
The other day I found myself on a 45 minute bus ride with my 3 kids and 4 of their friends. We were all sat at the back.
Their conversations were fleeting, from the lyrics of the wheels on the bus to more serious subjects like what they might order at McDonalds.
At one point, one of the girls turned to the other and they were comparing skin colours- three 5 year olds arguing about who was lighter, hoping, each in turn that they were the darker one.
It was all so innocent but lovely. Lovely that they hadn’t been touched by any of our pollutant societal thoughts about skin colour bias. Lovely that they referred to skin colour as they might any other body feature- like they would the hair on their arms or whose hands might be bigger. And lovely that they were all insisting they were darker so they could match.
Within minutes, a woman on the bus turned to me, as I wiped their mouths, told them off and cuddled the littlest on my lap. “They must keep you busy”, she said.
I smiled. Grateful to hear that in 2016 a family of multiple different skin tones and races can exist in someone’s eyes and be normal.
And although I have somewhat frequent encounters with people who ask whether my children are my own because of our different skin tones, this experience has given me hope.
As I pondered the woman on the bus’ comment, I thought about correcting her. “Only three of them are mine”, I was going to say. But I stayed quiet, content in the knowledge, that the new ‘normal’ is us.
The other day my husband of 7 years asked me ‘do you identify as ‘other’?’ His question was in response to a moment me and my girls had experienced earlier that day. I’d felt defensive and self-conscious while walking through the English countryside and being asked (multiple times) whether we ‘belonged’ there or… “are you lost????” definitely made me feel like an outsider. I knew it was too subtle to call it racism but it definitely felt uncomfortable and something I knew I wouldn’t have experienced if I was on my own.
The topic of racial fluidity has been raised several times in the last couple of years. Recently, Paris Jackson called herself black through her relationship with her tenuously ‘biological’ Dad Michael. And of course the controversial Rachel Dolezal, who has called for black identity to be ‘fluid’ and non-binary in the same way gender is. With more questions being raised about how identity is formed and racial constructs that lie behind it, the question whether it is possible to identify as something other than what you are through one’s relationships has intrigued me.
I am part of a multiracial family, the majority of whom are black, or who will be viewed as black by society. Apart from my daughters and my husband, I am the only white face you see in my family. So, not to feel any sense of identity by virtue of osmosis or relationship would be impossible. Or, at least for me.
I have heard of other spouses who have non-white partners who become sensitive to the subtle racism that their partners feel on a daily basis. The wake-up to white bias is shocking and infuriating when it comes to the ones you love.
The first time it happened for me was when we entered a jewellery shop early on in our relationship. Soon enough I noticed a security guard as well as the shop floor assistant following hubby closely while he perused the rings. I, on the other hand, was not even noticed. Or, shall I say, after a few minutes, they did offer to help me but completely ignored hubby-to-be apart from the stares. I felt defensive and angered as though it were happening to me.
The experience and many like it have rocked my understanding of our world. Yes I knew racism existed. I wasn’t that naive but when you experience it and you become the object of it through your partnership (that was later on), you start to identify with it.
Since then, my children and I have felt the oh-so-subtle effects of middle class racism. The stares, the indignant looks that you may not belong in ‘this’ park- nothing major but enough to waken me up to the some of the realities of being non-white.
So yes, I guess in some ways I do identify as something other than what I am. I still have white privilege and I’m not naive as to think I know exactly what it is to walk in the shoes of a black person. But by virtue of my relationship. Because my family is black. Because I am part of a black family. And because my identity is multi- layered, my identity as a mother of mixed race kids and as the wife of a Nigerian man is intertwined.
10 Things EVERY Parents Should Do When Raising Biracial or Mixed Race Kids
Take two parents, two entirely different cultures, traditions and perspectives and you get a family with some pretty tough discussions, strong opinions and choices ahead. We can’t do it all and we certainly won’t do it perfectly when it comes to our mixed race kids but there are some things we as parents need to prioritise when raising mixed kids of dual or multiple cultures.
Speak your language
If one of you speaks another language or originates from another country where English isn’t the first language, that means your mixed son or daughter could and should be bilingual. Even if you don’t speak it well, passing down any culture often goes hand in hand with language. Your mixed race kids may resent having to attend language school every Saturday now but they’ll thank you for it later on when they’re able to converse with friends and family from your native country.
2. Talk about your history
History can tell a thousand stories and telling your own history as well as that of your homeland will do wonders in opening up all sorts of discussions with your children. For us as a mixed race kids growing up with a Persian father, I learned fast that the Iranian Revolution marked a major historical upheaval and explains a lot about modern day Iran, its people, its diaspora and its politics. Pre-Revolutionary Iran and the ancient civilisations and dynasties also shed light on who and why Iranians are such a proud people. I don’t know if I would understand my Dad’s culture and origins if I didn’t have this perspective.
3. Emphasise both Cultures
Make sure you talk about both parent’s cultures to your children. So easy is it for parents to get caught in the trap of emphasising only the culture that is ‘exotic’ or foreign that the partner who hails from the country in which you reside or one that is more common, gets forgotten. Make sure both of your mixed race kids’ cultures and traditions are valued and explained and talk about it with each other to ensure you’re both on the same page.
4. Talk about race and racism
Even if you’ve never fell victim to racism, this is a must must discussion parents need to have with their children. Your children will have different experiences from you and they may have darker or lighter skin but either way they need to be able to talk about it and understand it even if you’re uncomfortable talking about it. (Read on for more about how to talk to your kids about racism)
5. Pass on your traditions
Traditions are so important in passing down one’s culture. You don’t need to do everything your parents did but highlighting the important ones, in discussion with your partner, will help your children again to understand where you come from and the parts of their culture which are important. In our family, we have chosen to continue the traditional Nigerian greeting but have chosen not to pierce our newborn daughters’ ears. We have made these choices consciously and with intention about what we wish our mixed race kids to take from Nigerian culture.
6. Mark your cultural festivals
With so many cultures to choose from, we’re never at a loss to have a reason to celebrate. From Canadian Halloween, to Nigerian Independence Day to Nowrooz (Iranian New Year) Festival, we seem to have it all covered. Each one gets as much attention as the next and we even try to ensure we can attend a community gathering to make it is as authentic as it was for us growing up with the real thing.
7. Demonstrate the importance of traditional greetings
Greetings are so important in today’s globalised world where countries, people and cultures emphasise different things in their greetings. In Nigeria, greeting an elder is a very formal affair involving a bow or a curtsy along with lowered eyes to show respect. In Persian culture, men and women typically kiss each other on the cheek three times to show affection and respect. It’s important that our mixed race kids understand how and why we greet each other in each setting so they can navigate their way around each cultural setting when they’re older.
8. Visit your home country with your children
Even if you’ve never been and you’re a third culture kid yourself, at least you had the benefit of being raised by parents who grew up there. Your children will need to see the real thing before they can understand your culture (and you) completely. The people, the cultural norms, complexities and weirdisms that make it up. Don’t let it become just a vacation spot either. Let your mixed race kids spend their summers there to know just how you grew up and how you actually lived.
9. Foster close relationships with your children’s Grandparents
Grandparents are so important to imbibing your culture in your kids. They carry with them all of the above- history, traditions, language. Developing that relationship and ensuring your mixed race kids get to know their grandparents will have a huge impact on them in years to come.
10. Give your children the freedom to adapt culture to who they are as third culture kids
Your mixed race kids are not you and their experience is going to be different from yours as children of an intercultural family. When they’re old enough, allow them to explore their culture for themselves and decide which parts they can identify with and which parts they don’t. This may change again when they have families of their own but it’s important that you let them be who they are and not decide for them even when they’re old enough to decide for themselves.
After realising her staring was bordering on uncomfortable, the stranger sitting at the bus stop beside us smiled and asked, “Are they all yours?”
Out of insecurity I answered quickly, without hesitation. “Yes!, they’re all mine.” I often feel the stares and see the eyes that (sometimes openly) question whether me and my multiracial children are related.
I can’t say it doesn’t bother me. It makes me insecure. Particularly because I’ve been asked it 4 times in one week. I wonder, do parents of non- multiracial children get asked this? What makes this woman doubt our relationship?
Is it not the fact that two of them are climbing all over me; the fact that they all have similar features if you take away the skin colour; the fact that they call me Mama?!!
My patience and understanding of this question has started to wear thin as I’ve tried not to react to it and give those asking the benefit of the doubt. I get the curiosity, I get that perhaps it’s just because they’re a cute bunch of kids and people like to make conversation.
But while my children are oblivious to it now,there will come a time when they will start asking me, ‘why does everyone ask whether we are yours? Aren’t we??’
Whether they are my biological children or not, (and they are, nobody can take that away from me- the nine months of carrying each one and the 1 year of feeding, changing and growing a newborn baby, plus the next 2, 4 and 6 years of cuddling, soothing, protecting and playing with my child). So that one question, loaded with ignorance is tremendously powerful in its power to reduce our relationship to carer/ nanny or whatever else is implied.
Other not-so-funny things said to us about our children have come in the form of curiosity but can come over so so rude.
“Oh wow, but she’s so light, maybe she’ll get darker with age”
“She’s quite dark. Your husband must be very dark-skinned”
“Your kids are so cute. I want to have mixed babies one day”
“Your kids don’t look anything like you.”
“Your girls have such lovely curly hair. Not thick and coarse like their Dad’s”
“Are they all yours?” Yes. “Oh, are they adopted?” Yes, seriously that happened.
I wonder, why, in this day and age, people feel that it’s ok to ask this question or, even worse, that they assume based solely on the fact that a family has different skin colour? There are so many diverse families out there. Likewise many new shows, books and programmes depicting diverse families, I wonder how people can be presumptuous about what is ‘normal’.
It bothers me because it’s about me and my mixed family. The relationships I hold dearest to my soul. I know I’ll need to have some conversations with my daughters about why and how people might ask this. And I’ll need to rehearse my own response because my patience is wearing thin. When the world stops asking the questions, I’ll stop writing about it.
Attacked this week was Hollywood actor Taye Diggs over his mixed race son, Walker (6) whom he shares with his former wife Idina Menzel. Menzel is caucasian and so it follows their son is biracial. But Diggs had the audacity to say he is mixed.
To Americans, this is equivalent to Diggs denying his own black identity, refuting his history and ignoring the one-drop rule which has defined American race politics and identity. The likes of Tiger Woods and Lewis Hamilton are often slammed for their refusal to identify solely as Black. Instead, they purport they are indeed mixed.
Tiger who is one-quarter Chinese, one-quarter Thai, one-quarter African American, one-eighth Native American, and one-eighth Dutch jokingly refers to his ethnic make-up as “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from Caucasian, Black, (American) Indian, and Asian).
Obama, however, perhaps for simplicity’s sake when running for American president knew that identifying as one-half anything would hurt his political ambitions. He opted early on to adopt an entirely Black identity. And without any of his white relatives alive to contest, he’s been largely accepted.
Although the one-drop rule was invented by white segregationists who were keen to keep their racial blood lines ‘pure’, African Americans themselves are fierce critics of the multi-racial category. To this day, only 7 percent of Americans identify as multi-racial (when many believe the numbers are much higher).
American sitcoms, dramas and day time soap operas still exhibit same-race couples. And when there is an exception, it’s usually a show looking to make major ripples (like the sitcom Ellen in the early 2000’s when they featured a same-sex kiss). British tv, on the other hand, features inter racial dating as naturally as any other couple. It’s refreshing to see.
To me, the one-drop rule seems outdated and completely against an individual’s right to define his/herself. I get the argument that yes, he will be seen throughout his life as Black and his experience probably largely defined by living as a Black man in a racist world. But, we have to start somewhere don’t we? Walker will be influenced by both his parents and that will complete his identity. He shouldn’t be forced to choose just because the world does it for him. Let me know what you think by commenting below.
Be sure to read Diggs’ latest book ‘Mixed Me’ which is about a biracial family. I’ll be ordering it soon for my little ones and I’ll be sure to include a review. Well done Taye for stepping up, speaking out and writing about it.