Biracial Children Essay, Research Paper
In the US there are 1.1 million plus interracial marriages. Along with these marriages
come millions of biracial children. Not everyone believes having biracial children is a
good idea. Some believe these parents are committing a grave offense against their
children, and thus they are unintentionally hurting their own children (Washington 278).
This a problem which many people are concerned about, teachers and social workers
especially. They are scared biracial children will not get the extra time and energy they
need to live as a normal child. Adults are needed to help the children understand why
they are different and how to deal with it. Biracial children must learn to cope with the
problems that come with being multi-cultural.
One of the biggest problems biracial children have is finding their identity. “What
are you?” is one of the most commonly asked questions that biracial children have to
answer to. Being unable to give a one race answer causes problems for both the child
and whom ever they are talking to. Many people do not understand how someone can be
two or more races. In their eyes you can only have one race. Since being biracial is not
normal to them, they look down on these people. This kind of behavior can make
growing up especially hard for children. In the past children were identified by the
parent of color. If one parent were black, then the child’s race was black also. But if the
child were able to pass as white then he was considered to be white (Wardle 2). This
eliminated a lot of problems for biracial, because children they were not expected to give
an explanation for their race. Eventually this system no longer worked because the
number of single mothers began to increase, making it hard to be sure of the father’s race.
Now many parents are trying to teach their children it is okay to be biracial.
Children who identify themselves with their minority race are not asked for further
explanations by other children and adults. While those who choose both races usually
receive a reaction of shock, amazement and sometimes disapproval. This causes children
to feel as if they must choose between the two races, resulting in confusion and guilt over
having to decide between both heritage. They feel they are unable to identify with one
parent. Thus parent/child bonds to weaken Buttery 39).. Society teaches biracial
children to choose one race, this is what is “acceptable”. Having to make such decisions
can be very difficult. Often the struggle for identity leads biracial children perceive
themselves as alienated from the mainstream, neither one or the other. This is why
finding a racial identity is so important.
Racial identity is defined as “pride in one’s racial and cultural background.” It helps
children to shape attitudes of themselves and others. It also helps form the way biracial
children interact with others and how others react (Nash 22). When you have pride it is
easier to answer questions and know where you fit in. First, a child must realize they
belong to some racial category and decide which one they want to identify themselves
with and also be happy with their decision. There are two ways most biracial children
go. One way is choosing a multi-ethnic race. Meaning both parents have heavy
influence in the child’s life. The second way is to choose only one race. This depends on
the status, social and personal aspects of the child. For example would be the type of
neighborhood the child lives in could represent their status. How family and friends
accept interracial families represents the social aspects and the child’s physical features
could represent the child’s personal feelings (Nash 25). Most children choose the race of
the minority parent. So if a child’s father was black and mother white, he would most
likely identify himself as black. My sister and I are of biracial backgrounds. Our father
is Hispanics and our mother is White. When asked our race, we both respond “Hispanic”.
When asked, why Hispanic over White, we say it is because that is where most of our
culture comes from and that we look more Hispanic than White. “The uncertainty about
where and how one will live being neither white nor black is about as great as any
problem a human being is likely to face” (Washington 277).
Once a child has figured out their identity, who they are, he then must be prepared to
defend themselves from society’s prejudices. “Even though their numbers are small,
biracial children have inherited a society different from the one their grandparents and
great-grandparents found” (Davis 2). Race is an issue that affects a child from the very
beginning, starting at the hospital when the parents must select a race for the birth
certificate. As biracial children grow they seem just like every other child they play with.
Although race is always a factor to most parents, it begins to be noticeable by the
children themselves in their teens. At this age they are more aware of themselves, more
conscious about who they are, what they look like and what others think of them. They
begin to develop their own ideas and feelings about everything they are exposed to. This
is a very trying time for biracial children. Junior High is usually the beginning of finding
individuality. It is the starting point where biracial children begin to feel excluded from
others. They are looked down at because of preconceived notions other children have
learned from their adult peers. From there it goes to high school and so on, only getting
worse. As a result the social activities of biracial children are limited because of the way
others feel about them. For example many times there is refusal of white parents to
permit inter-dating among their children. This can also go for social gatherings, a
biracial child may not be invited to a party because of who they are. Resentment can
build up inside mixed children as a result of being discriminated. This resentment is very
unhealthy for them and at times even dangerous. Along with feeling outlasted from his
peers biracial children must also learn to deal with the racism thrown at his family also.
It is a lot for a child to be able to handle. As described by Mrs. Richardson, a foster
mother of many biracial children, “racism is a sickness in people that is taught” (Davis 7).
Which would explain why so many children feel the same as their parents.
When my sister began junior high school, she encountered many problems with most
of her teachers and the with the administration. They were constantly watching her,
picking at every flaw. Her friends consisted of White and Hispanic children. When they
all got in trouble her White friends were let go with a slight punishment. The rest,
including my sister, always received more punishment. She is now entering High school
and still encountering the same problems. I went to the same schools and never had any
problems. The only difference is that my sister looks more Hispanic than I do and all
my friends were White. It is hard to understand how people can so easily discriminate
one person based on their looks alone. If she took their discrimination personally she
would never had made it. It is important for biracial children to have pride in
themselves. It makes it much easier to fight off the racism.
Not only can racism happen in the outside world but also within the family. “Because
of the history of racial discrimination in this country… These children are not viewed as a
rich combination of their full heritage” (Wardle 2). This is one reason there are problems
in the family. Extended family, such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and etceteras, may
not want to accept biracial children because of many different reasons. They may be
more concerned about the family name being passed on to a biracial child, there could
even be concerns about possible inheritances. These types of actions again can make the
child feel like an outcast, as if he is not good enough to be considered one of the family.
Parents have to show their children that life will go on and that they cannot let this type
of behavior pull them down. The children will see that their parents are not devastated
by the ostracism and realize there is nothing they can do to make the person change his or
her views. According to a family counselor, ” this rejection is not personal, that family
member just suffers from a sickness brought on by a racist society” (Gay 73). This can
create all sorts of complications in a biracial child’s life.
I am the oldest grandchild on my mother’s side of the family. Recently I found out
that until I was three years old my grandparents did not accept me as part of the family.
According to them I did not exist. I have always been jealous of the second oldest
grandchild because she has had my grandparents support in everything she does. I could
not understand this, her special treatment was driving me crazy. So many times I felt like
an outcast to my grandparents, they made me feel as if I was not good enough for them. I
always felt like a horrible person because of the hateful feelings I had toward both my
cousin and grandparents. Now I understand why, she was the first grandchild to them, it
was nothing I did myself. As far as I know they still may not accept me for who I am. I
always loved my grandparents for who they were, but this bit of gained information has
changed a lot of my views on them. They do not seem as pure as they once were. I do
not look up to them anymore. What bothers me the most is that neither one of my
grandparents or my mother told me this and I wonder if they ever plan to. This feeling of
rejection will follow me my whole life. There are many other children out there with
similar stories. Some never get to meet their family though, and go through their life
wondering who they are and where they come from. They end up traveling through their
life lost and unsure of what to do. Rejection has horrible effects on people, differing
from person to person. But the children are the ones who get hurt the worse. To them it
is their fault, they feel like they did something wrong to make the other person not like
them. Sometimes it is easier for a child to blame themselves than try to understand what
is really going on.
Overall, biracial children have a really tough time growing up. They spend a lot of
time trying to figure out what is the proper thing for them to do according to society.
Then a lot more time trying to figure out if what society wants will make them happy
also. They must find an identity, one they are willing to back up and be proud to have.
Without one a biracial child will not be able to survive in today’s world. It helps them to
overcome the obstacle they may encounter along life’s path. Then once they find that
they can deal with anything society throws at them. They will be able to say “I like who I
am, no matter what anyone says, ” which can be very hard to do. “Biracial children are
the melting pot of the US,” and need all the help they can receive along the way, because
they have a lot of extra dilemmas to deal with as they grow up (Davis 5).
Buttery, Thomas J. “Helping Biracail Children Adjust.” Education Digest May 1987:
Davis, Ophelia. “Born in Two Worlds: Biracial Youths’ Dual Heritage often a Challenge.”
Richmond Times Oct. 29, 1989: A1. SIRS Combined Text and Index CD-ROM.
Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: Social Issues Resources Ser., 1993.
Gay , Kathlyn. The Rainbow Effect: Interracial Families. New York: Franklin Watts,
Nash, Reanea D. Everything You Need to Know about Being a Biracial\Biethnic Teen.
New York: Rosen, 1995.
Robinson, Carol. “Couple Denied Adoption of Mixed-Race Boy.” Birmingham News 4
Sept. 1994: 16A. SIRS Combined Text and Index CD-Rom. Ed. Eleanor
Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: Social Issues Resources Ser., 1993.
Wardle, Francis. “Children of Mixed Parentage–How can Professionals Respond?”
Children Today July/Aug. 1989: 10-13. SIRS Combined Text and Index CD-Rom.
Ed. Eleanor Goldstein. Boca Raton, FL: Social Issues Resources Ser., 1993.
Washington , Joseph R. JR. Marriage in Black and White. Boston: Beacon, 1970.