Last week I was talking with Alex on the phone, as we do several times a week, and the conversation turned to the Multiracial Community, more specifically who is part of the Multiracial Community?
When Alex and I first began talking about creating Multiracial Media in November 2015, there was no doubt in either of our minds that both multiracial people and their parents are part of the Multiracial Community. We left it at that and we began operating Multiracial Media on that assumption. Our hope was to attract both multiracial people and their monoracial parents to be both fans and followers of the site, and if moved to, submit writing, art, music, photography or other forms of artistic expression to let the world know what it means to them to be multiracial, the parent of a multiracial kid, and part of the Multiracial Community.
Are Cousins, Grandparents, Step-Parents and In-Laws Part of the Multiracial Community?
I don’t think this is too difficult to ponder. If I am a grandparent (I’m not) and my adult child wants to marry someone who’s a different race from us, supportive, unsupportive, tenuous or downright hateful, I have an opinion about their marriage, and if it comes to pass, children who will come from this interracial union. I can choose whether to accept and eventually love my new daughter- or son-in-law, or I can make a decision to shun him or her. If I want to be downright ugly, I can do what my father’s father did to my White father when he married my Black and Japanese mother: disown him and refuse any relationship with my grandchildren. On that day he made a decision not to be part of my brothers’ and my life and not part of the Multiracial Community.
This left my father’s brother and his wife to make a decision. I have no idea whether there was a discussion about it between my father and his brother but I do know that I knew my cousins growing up and despite the physical distance between us, we saw them for holidays, weddings and birthdays. I remember when my cousin Sheila was getting ready to go to college in Manhattan, she stayed with us for the summer prior to her freshman year.
What if, as the parent of a multiracial child, I get divorced and down the line I marry another monoracial person (whether the same race as me or not)? My new spouse has to make a decision whether he wants to be part of my child’s / children’s life / lives—or not. This would happen whether I had a multiracial / biracial child or not, right?
When I married my husband in 2001, I was very much self-identifying as Black and not biracial and definitely not multiracial. (I explain in detail how I went from self-identifying as Black to biracial and eventually multiracial in my Stages of Being Biracial.) When I decided in 2015 to start identifying as multiracial, my husband and his family had to make a decision whether to support me or not. Fortunately they opted to love me no matter how I self-identify but it’s not always like that.
Are Friends, Mentors, Members of Clergy, Social Workers, Teachers, School Administration and Neighbors Part of the Multiracial Community?
This, I think, is where Alex and I part company. It’s probably where many people and I disagree.
Two things made me decide that the Multiracial Community extends far beyond our personal tribe:
- A derogatory comment made by a teacher in Michigan
- A client of mine
In October 2016 a teacher in Wolfe Middle School in Center Line, Michigan asked one of her students, Kaden Brown whether he was a mutt. Kaden’s mother, Liane is White and his father, Kevin African American. I don’t know the teacher in question but I can say her question was racist. I am friends with both his parents, and Liane and Kevin agree with me. Again, I can’t get in her head but on that day, Kaden’s teacher made a decision: she is not part of the Multiracial Community.
Like Kaden’s teacher, religious leaders, neighbors, social workers, schools’ administrations, etc. all have to make a decision: are they going to treat the Kadens of the world the same as they would Becky, Sheronda, Thérèse, José, Tarik and Akira, or will they see their biraciality or multiracaility as different (which can obviously take on many forms)?
I own a small content marketing agency. We manage clients’ social media, write articles and blogs, do their copywriting, etc. One of my clients runs a social services agency in Arizona called Child and Family Support Services (CFSS for short). In their own words: “We help people across the state of Arizona increase their emotional health, improve relationships, and address challenging behavior struggles.”
The approach CFSS uses to help their families is called Wraparound Services. It is also commonly referred to as Community Based Services. The premise behind Community Based is as simple as it sounds. As the expression goes, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Sometimes help is needed outside one’s home to get kids to school, babysit, look out for potential danger, steer them in the right direction, or simply befriend.
As parents, you’ve no doubt had to rely on your friends, neighbors, teachers, your priest, rabbi or imam, the school’s administration, and if need be, social services to help you. Maybe you’ve needed professional, spiritual and/or emotional guidance, needed a place to stay when things got rough at home, help from a teacher to offer a little extra care and attention to your child with special needs or emotional struggles. Sometimes it’s just about being friends with those who are different from yourself.
The people you’ve gone to have all had to make choices to be your friend, help or turn their backs on you. The day they opted to help, they became part of the Multiracial Community—your Multiracial Community. That’s what community-based services are all about.
According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of community is the following: “the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly.”
So, in your opinion, who do you think is part of the Multiracial Community?
In addition to being the founders of Multiracial Media, both Sarah and Alex are writers and opinionated ones at that. They like to write about many topics, including: politics (encompassing issues on race, gender, the LGBTQ—U.S. and geopolitics), current events (which could, of course, encompass politics), pop culture, culture and many, many others. The Letter from the Editor may cover our thoughts on current events or on-gonig issues that are important to the Multiracial Community. You never know what we’re going to write about and it may even include some humor, since Alex is a stand-up comic.