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My Mixed Babies

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Is the fact that my kids are biracial that big a deal anymore?

My mixed babies

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Back in 1998, my partner and I appeared on TLC's "A Baby Story," a reality show that documented pregnancy and birth, while I gave birth to my first daughter, Carrington, on camera. I was amazed that TLC continued to air our particular episode for five years. I know this because five years later, I was carrying my second newborn daughter, Jones, in public, and complete strangers would stop me and say, "Is that Carrington? I just saw her on TV."

I think the fascination with our particular episode might have been that we are a biracial family. Virgil, a classical architect, happens to have a very dark complexion, and I happen to be so Irish that I need sunblock just to take out the trash. Today, with the Obamas in the White House and Oprah, Beyonce, Magic, and Michael as moguls and worldwide icons, my mixed kids sure seem like a tired topic.

What are black and biracial children experiencing in today's progressive culture? The thing about America is that it is a diced-up culture with regional histories that still linger in some communities -- but in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, and Chicago, children of all sorts of gorgeous mixtures are growing up with little nod to racial identity. My children go to a public school in Los Angeles that has no racial majority. None. Every playdate that comes in my door drags in genes from some corner of the globe. I should say that these are rarely new immigrants or even first-generation immigrants. These are Americans whose families have grown up here over many generations. But the rainbow of skin color and hair texture is breathtaking.

I've only experienced racism once. But I've experienced curiosity plenty of times -- usually when I travel. Since my babies came out quite brown, I was asked a few times by strangers which country I had adopted my baby from. This was before Madonna and Angelina made it hip, but I still was tempted to look like some progressive save-the-world mom and lie. Instead, I usually gave a surprising lesson in genealogy by simply saying that I adopted her from my womb, and then pulled out my breast to nurse.

In 2006, we lived in Florence, Italy, a largely homogeneous place. The only people of color were the ubiquitous African street merchants. One day, I was accosted by one merchant while carrying 2-year-old Jones. He demanded to know where I had gotten that "black baby." I told him she was mine, and his eyes opened wide and white. Now picture this next bit of advice, given in deadpan seriousness in a strong African accent: "Lady. You cannot carry that baby on the street. If you do, people will know that you've been with a BL-AA-CK man." I laughed from the deepest part of my belly, and as I walked away, I said, "Buddy, in America, that's a cool thing!" I was wondering what he would think if he saw the lineup of beauties that I once saw outside the L.A. Laker's locker room.

Last year, we lived for a time in South Florida. My kids attended Advent Lutheran School in Boca Raton. It was 100% white, except for my two curly heads. My kids tell me that they were not treated one bit differently by any of the kids there. I felt that the parents regarded me as a bit of a curiosity, but that's it. I think our presence in their lovely school and church community was a small gift to this homogeneous group. They were the kind of non-judgmental Christians who walked their talk, and I feel so grateful that they welcomed me into their mom village.

And that one actual racist experience? Just from some nuts with no lives but for access to the Internet (you know who you are!). When an attractive video of me was posted on YouTube, those loonies Googled me and somehow connected the dots to my family. Then they went to town posting racist and obscene comments under that video. I won't even honor them by describing what they said, but they used some terms that shocked even ME. I believe in freedom of speech, so for a few months, I did nothing about this. Then my 11-year-old started surfing the Internet, and fearing that she might Google her mother and find cruel insults about herself, I had the video and comments removed.

But that's it. My kids have so much self-esteem -- I mean, maybe too much. One day when Jones was five, she came home from kindergarten with this bit of empathy. "Mommy," she said, "I feel so bad for white girls." I braced myself for what was coming next. "Why, honey?" I asked in a neutral voice. "Well," she paused, "I feel sorry for them because they are not so pretty." I sat there, blinking with my blue eyes, and wondered how to respond. I fumbled around for words and came up with this: "The world is a perfect place, sweetie. Everybody is pretty to somebody. Believe it or not, some people even think your mommy is pretty." She crinkled up her nose and looked at me curiously, as if seeing me as "white" for the first time. Then she ran off to play with her multicolored Barbies.



next: Heidi Klum Gives Birth to Daughter
23 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 13, 2009, 5:31 AM

NO, it’s not a big deal…next subject please.

Anonymous October 13, 2009, 6:18 AM

My husband is Mexican and I am Czech and for us its no big deal. However, some of the looks he gets if he takes the kids out alone are surprizing in this day and age. As a couple, we have gotten some weird looks, but its their problem not ours.

Shell October 13, 2009, 6:38 AM

Actually it is some sort of a deal. Maybe not one that will affect you directly but your daughter will have to live their lives as black women. living as a black woman isnt easy and its not the same life that white women live. the racist comments are only the tip of the ice burg of what may come in the future. as long as the children are well rounded and overstand their culture, heritage and overstand that they are beautiful black women life would be easier

ame i. October 13, 2009, 8:27 AM

It depends on where you are and the age of the person.
When I was a kid, white women who dated black men were shunned. Bi-racial kids: shunned by both races.
I live in a town a little bigger now. The public school my younger daughter is attending (this is her last year there, as it is a K-4)has a 65% non-white make up. Neither of my kids thought to think of bi-racial kids as different.
The private school my 6th grader attends is 97% white. I’m not sure yet how the “dating outside your race” situation is there.
Personally, I’ve never been into black guys but I’d rather my daughter(s) love and marry an intelligent black man treating her like a queen than a white man not treating her the way she deserves.

Holly October 13, 2009, 8:50 AM

Hopefully, our country is starting to mature and realize that people, no matter what “color”, are people and they are all different. My husband is West Indian and I am white. My son looked at me when he was about 3 and told me that I am white, daddy is brown and he and his baby sister are grey. I guess he was searching for a color in between. Now, he and his sister say that they are beige. I was asked if I adopted my son when he was a baby. I’ve had people comment that “Daddy must have dark hair.” Because I am blond and my kids have brown hair. But I have also had numerous people come up to me out of the blue just to tell me how beautiful my kids are. So if anyone thinks that it is wrong for people of different races to mix, then why would God and nature make those children turn out so beautiful?! Fill your kids with pride and confidence in themselves and it won’t matter what anyone else thinks because they will know that they are wonderful people!

Mother of 2 October 13, 2009, 9:20 AM

I have an beautiful daughter who is half Italian her father and half black me! We were together since the age of sixteen…married many years…we lived in a small town where my family was the only Black family in town…I’m now married to a black man and have a little boy…so I’ve seen both sides…my nieces are interracial the only issue I have is if white mothers lack the ability to take care of thier girls hair please learn…

Heather October 13, 2009, 11:03 AM

Wendy, I am so glad you mentioned the show!! When I first started seeing your articles, I swore I remembered you from that show, but couldn’t confirm it. I remember you being a talk show host of some sort though. Did you have your PhD at that time?

Mexican in disguise:) October 13, 2009, 11:41 AM

Being biracial may be more common than the past years..but does not mean that it is more accepted in all places. I am of two different ethnicities..Mexican and white(Italian and Swedish). A background that i am very grateful and proud of. However, my parents thought that i never had any issues or problems out in the world as a kid..which was wrong. I had a difficult time in highschool..feeling i was and belonged with my Mexican friends but looking like my White friends..and not being accepted by many Mexican highschoolers due to my light skin appearance. But i am just one person with one life experience. And as i have gotten older…i am even more grateful for my background and how it has been a huge part of my identity. I always tell people in my life and profession in the social service field..to not judge a book by its cover..cause you dont always know who that person is underneath(ethnicity wise). I am misjudged daily by my appearance in Hispanic settings or among Hispanic people..and it can be frustrating. But i go with it and learn from it. Perception by appearance is not always what you think:)

Monica October 13, 2009, 12:52 PM

Sad but true, one can’t always assume that because being biracial is more accepting that your children don’t face any issues. Like one poster said, your daughters will be viewed as black women. That’s a given. People will always want to socially and racially define others. And as parents we have to make sure we are there for our children to help them get thru any problems they have. That means asking and talking. Because they may not tell you. They may have already faced some racial issues that you are unaware.

Brittnie October 13, 2009, 2:04 PM

I hope your beautiful daughters continue to feel as beautiful and confident as they do now!

Race, color, hair type…it shouldn’t matter! Like you said, everyone is pretty to someone.

Thank you for letting your children shine!

Debbie T October 13, 2009, 9:18 PM

Yes! Yes! Yes! It is a “huge” deal! It would be disingenious to ignore the specialness of beautiful - multi-culturally blessed children. My bi-racial daughter is 35 years old. She has just given birth to a quad-racial duaghter. This little girl is so beautiful and is so lucky to grow up in an extended multi-cultural family. What an advantage to having a meaningful and full life.

Anonymous October 13, 2009, 10:11 PM

Jones is a last name not a first name.

Anonymous October 13, 2009, 10:19 PM

Is Wendy still with the baby daddy?

MST October 27, 2009, 8:53 AM

First of all, who cares about being “accepted” by someone. The most important thing is that you accept yourself.

Anyway, I think it depends on where you are. I live in a large, multicultural city. My ex-husband is white and I am black. My kids endured a few racist comments/incidents, but generally it wasn’t that much of an issue.

My daughter is light-skinned and has long wavy hair. Most people think she is Latina. She chose to attend an all-black college, where she sometimes hears negative comments about the fact tht her father is white. She keeps her hair very short because she feels that many black women there are jealous of it. So racism/discrimination works both ways.

Mike November 6, 2009, 12:50 PM

“Buddy, in America, that’s a cool thing!”

Ummm. Not really, it’s an exceptionally trashy thing, done by immature people to get attention.

Like this article.

Beth December 7, 2009, 4:10 PM

It’s not a big deal. The children should grow up to appreciate both their cultures (not to consider themselves either “black or white” but both).
My father was African and my mother is English/Germand/Swedish. I was only insecure when people wanted me to deny what I really was — either calling me “black” or calling me “white”.
I find it interesting that an African should call your children “black”. My father’s people always called us “Wampam” (white-man’s children). But in America we were always considered “black” because the “blacks” were mixed.
I just ignore racists from all sided and hope the change.

Beth December 7, 2009, 4:10 PM

I meant “from all sides” not “… sided”.

Oops!

Clint April 30, 2010, 9:03 PM

Oh let me guess, a rebellious white-bread suburban teen named Wendy angry at her father for his being too strict subconsciously wants to erase all his seemingly lingering control, so she takes it to the extreme and beds a string of black guys? Typical in this day and age really. Hey, didnt I hear you quote on a talk show from one of your insane books one time that, you “suddenly found yourself in a lesbian strip club making out with Dennis Rodman”? Yeah, and wasn’t that after your first kid was born? Was that another “cool thing” in your mind? I bet, lol, and look where he’s at now. And look at what you use to justify your off-the-wall cuckoo-ness to someone in a foreign land, a line of sluts waiting outside a sport lockeroom who later likely had dozens of abortions afterward! God lady, something is very wrong with you and your justifying illicit sex and interracial, and I say that as a parent longer than you’ve been one, and BEING BI-RACIAL myself AND marrying interracial-y! You are all nuts out there in California, yet your own moral decline and those justifications you tell yourselves are clearly childish and rather sottish at best! Not much different than Lindsay Lohan, who I expect will hook up with a drug dealer soon enough! Rome fell for its own moral decline coupled with a globally stretched too thin military. America would be damn lucky not to follow suit. Jesus help us!

Bababooooey May 1, 2010, 12:15 AM

What color are your daughters cacacaca wendy?

Bababooooey May 1, 2010, 12:19 AM

Wendy what color are your daughters BUSHES?


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