Since relocating from the Midwest I have noticed an influx of biracial children. I have noticed an influx of White women with brown daughters. Along with that influx I have noticed a sense of curiosity among young, brown girls with white mothers. I notice the way they stare a bit longer, are attentive to detail concerning the black woman and ask a host of questions that lead me to believe, that they’re curious about their blackness. They’re ignorant of truths that will assist them in the navigation of white culture, and they’re interested. What you’re about to read is an attempt to assist white mothers in raising culturally competent brown daughters, this article is intentionally written and interpreted, as a generalization.
Like many other mothers you held your child in your arms for the very first time and smiled. Perhaps thinking of all the things that she would grow to be, do, and achieve. I am sure you made note of her naturally tanned skin, and her beautifully colored eyes. I would trust that you adored the slight curl to her hair and the just right width to her lips.
As she gets older I would bet you’ll admire the shape of her physique and the depth of her features. The number of endless possibilities her hair has and the magic that she naturally possess, as a brown girl. I’m sure you’ll get a number of compliments on how gorgeous she is. Black women will compliment her hair. And white women will compliment her complexion. Your family will be grateful she’s not TOO dark and her father’s family will be grateful she’s not TOO white. Her cousins, from both sides, will look at her in both amazement and confusion, both envy and adoration. She immediately assumes a dual-consciousness.
In all your admiration for your darling princess, I pray that you never forget she is the descendant of black Kings & Queens, whom your people enslaved, neglected, raped, sold, beat, killed, undermined, mistreated and oppressed. Much of what continues to go on today. The man who assisted in her production, is the son of a woman who looks nothing like you. The brown child that you so proudly (or so I hope) travel through life with will one day look in the mirror and wonder who and where she comes from. She will look at photos of you and her (and/or other white girls) and think of the differences she sees. If you’re not careful, you will think you’re doing her a favor by dismissing conversations about color. After all, there’s a color-blindness that intermittently plagues your kind at the most convenient, or in my opinion, inconvenient times.
Do the women of the black community, this includes your brown daughter, a favor. Teach her. Teach her that she is privileged. Explain to her that her white heritage buys her a second class ticket through life. Teach her that she will be white to most black people and black to most white people. Teach her that the color of her skin comes with a price tag. But more importantly teach her that she is WHITE AND BLACK, furthermore educate her on where she comes from. Black and White are culture substitutes, they aren’t races. Is she German? Italian? Haitian? Nigerian? [ Race, might I add, is a social construct anyway! What does it mean? ] She doesn’t have to choose one over the other, and she’s not a partial person. She is a whole person OF MIXED RACE. You ought to explain to her the histories of her people, not just one or the other, but both, and be careful with what you choose to leave out. Teach her to love her different self. Teach her to expect to be sometimes excluded, but to accept herself and to accept her differences and that those who don’t , are ignorant. Teach her not to assume a position of hierarchy among other girls of color, and/or to assume a position of inferiority among white girls. Teach her, from a young age, that she is a perfectly and wonderfully made child. Teach her that she ought to love, even the more, people of different backgrounds. Teach her to value herself. Teach her that people will often times ask her silly questions like “What are you?” and “Where are you from?” and “Can I touch your hair?” she will also be often times interviewed by both white and black people, being asked if she’s accepted by both sides of her family and/or, has additional issues related to her mixed-race and/or if she considers herself to be either WHITE or BLACK. Teach her that she doesn’t need to validate other people’s feelings or live up to false expectations. As a mother, it is your job to prepare her. Prepare her in love, rather than hold back, in ignorance.
Aside from helping to prepare her, there are things that you may do to assist you in parenting her. Much like the preparation of any parent who has a daughter:
- Comb your daughter’s hair. I don’t care that it’s thick. I don’t care that it kinks. I don’t care that she cries. It is no excuse to have her walking around with a dry scalp and knots of hair throughout her head. If she wears it in an afro, that’s fine, but PLEASE oil her hair. She will go around looking at other little girls who look like her and find that they have barrettes, bows, braids & an OILED SCALP!
- Lotion her body!!!!!!!! Her skin, like her hair, needs to be oiled, cared for, tend to her as the brown girl that she is.
- If you don’t know, ASK! Being a parent is a journey in itself, being a culturally competent parent, is an even bigger journey! There is no manual. If you have questions, about her hair, her body, her heritage, please, ask.
Race is a label created by man to divide us, so we won’t see all our similarities of the spirits inside us. Your ancestry is the history of your culture. Like Italian food. French decor. West African Art. European folklore. Yet, that is only the history of our genes. By all means, we are not our physical form. We are the spirit wrapped inside, like a treasure gift wrapped inside a box. Treasure yourself. Know your worth. Do not appraise the value of another. Exude light, peace & love (Aseem, 2015).