This week, I’m counseling a Black, South African mom considering a move to the U.S. with her White husband and Multiracial daughter.
My husband is White American and I am Black Southern African. We live in London and travel often to my country, where we have friends and family from different backgrounds. My husband now wants to move to America, but I am reluctant because we have a young daughter. I am very happy in our current community where we have friends and family of different cultures and races, and many Mixed Race role models for my daughter. I am concerned about my daughter growing up in America, where lot of blogs and pages make it seem like biracial children have to “pick a side:” Be forced to identify as one race and, if not, they are a sellout etc. My husband claims we will be fine in America, but I am uneasy. I am thinking of telling him if he wants to move he can move but me and my child are staying put. What are your thoughts on this?
There is no way to deny it: America is race-obsessed. Everywhere you turn, in person or online, someone is talking about race. From news outlets reporting on race relations, to White supremacist Twitter trolls, to Multiracial Identity Facebook groups to Black History Month events—race talk is everywhere. In part, we can thank the internet for allowing so many people to candidly voice such varied opinions, reaching thousands of like-minded followers so quickly. Part of it is the political climate, which has made everyone—on every end of the racial spectrum—feel more defensive, more threatened and in greater need of kinship.
Please don’t let the blogs scare you. Many of us Multiracial Americans blog about the most prominent negative experiences of our lives, to share how we coped, what we learned, and to provide a platform for others who have survived similar encounters.
I am frankly heartened by the many Multiracial blogs I see online. More and more of us are standing up and refusing to “pick a side,” claiming our entire range of identities. Children of your daughter’s generation are growing up at a time when the Multiracial population is exploding. No longer a spectacle, no longer an oddity, Multiracial families, Multiracial kids, are becoming run-of-the-mill in the USA, depending on where you choose to live. It will always be true that some areas are more inclusive and accepting of racially mixed families than others. Before you consider coming here, I suggest you do some research online. Join a Multiracial parenting community to learn where the friendliest cities and suburbs are. There are parts of this country where your daughter would be one of a very few mixed children and might be targeted. There are also towns, like mine, where the Multiracial community is so large that being Mixed is quite ordinary. Get your questions answered by real moms who are living the life you are anticipating.
That said, the second-to-last sentence of your letter makes me think your marriage needs some attention—regardless of where you decide to live. If you’re considering leaving your husband, my guess is that your discussions about the move have grown antagonistic. Have you explained to him in detail your misgivings about America? Has he been willing to consider them? If not, I would suggest some focused sessions with a local marriage counselor who has experience with interracial couples. It might be enormously helpful to have a third party facilitating these conversations, making sure that each of you listens to, and is heard by the other. As a white man, your husband may not understand the importance of racial climate when choosing a place to live.
Just remember, moving anywhere is stressful. Under the best of circumstances there are losses—saying goodbye to friends and family, familiar routines and settings. Then, facing the unknown, trying to meet new people, establishing new roots. Whatever you decide, make sure it begins with open communication between you and your husband, so you can embark on the journey as partners, providing your daughter stability and support so she will never have to “Pick a Side.”