By Linda S. Wallace
Dear Cultural Coach:
I am one of four biracial children in my family. My grandfather and I were doing an essay on the state of Black youths in America. I brought the question to my grandfather, “Where do I fit in?” My grandfather’s reaction was, “What do you mean?” I explained that I am neither Black nor white. Then he asked me how I felt, and I said, “At school, for example, when I hang out with the Blacks, then the Black girls see me as a Black girl. But when I hang out with the white girls, some Black girls see me as a white girl.” In my family on my mom’s side, my grandfather does not claim me.”
In between two worlds
Dear In Between:
You belong to the cultural communities of both your mother and your father.
It is unfortunate that some of your relatives won’t claim you because you are biracial. Please don’t let their beliefs define you. Don’t ever give anyone the power to change the way you feel about yourself.
Every so often in life, you will cross paths with individuals who are prejudiced or just mean. It is important to learn how to repel these statements so that you can hold on to self-confidence and pride.
Let’s suppose that a classmate walks up to you one day and says, “You are a duck.” How might you feel? Well, you probably will think that is a pretty funny thing to say. “Hey, I am a girl, not a duck, thank you,” you might say with a chuckle. You are not likely to worry about that comment because, in your heart, you know the person was way off base.
If people ever try to tell you that your race makes you inferior, respond the same as you would to some poor soul who thinks you are a duck: Wow, that is one confused person! Remember that racist language tells us more about the person speaking than the people being discussed. Racists build themselves up by tearing others down. That tactic limits their personal growth and their future.
When life places us in difficult or uncomfortable situations, we get to choose how to respond. Will we be a peacemaker or a fighter? Will we be a leader or a divider?
Practice defensive strategies by learning how to take the sting out of insults or cruel remarks. Biracial and multiracial children are destined to play an important role in the development of our modern-day American family. As the offspring of two cultural groups that are prone to argue and bicker, you have a wider circle of influence than most of us. Use it wisely. Adults in two racial communities support you, love you and protect your dreams.
The next time someone teases you about your skin color, I want you to say, “I am the ladder over the wall of racial distrust.”
Then claim your place in history.
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