Hi I’ve been pondering this one Squirrel, howler and george have white English bm (I’m v juvenile, when auto correct changed this to white English bum I laughed out loud) and Middle Eastern bf. they have olive skin, brown eyes, v much look mixed race... v similar to me. Cultural heritage similar to mine... have added some celebrations, books, discussions etc. But I think being brought up in this country as they would’ve been with their bp their cultural influences are t that different. Silver back has same bm but bf is mixed race carribean/ English. Think he’s 2nd generation, has lived here all his life, no idea of his families country of origin. Bf carribean heritage seems to be something he strongly identifies with... one of the few nice details we have is of the two of them playing reggae to silverback in the womb. Silverback is the blondest/ whitest child I’ve ever seen, im wondering how to help him feel who he is and where he’s come from as he gets older. And how to help him feel he is a 1/4 African Caribbean when he looks so different from all the obvious role models.
Not an imminent problem... just something I’m pondering
Mummy to DD Squirrel Monkey (9), DD Howler Monkey (8), DS Curious George (7), DS Silverback (not quite 1)
Very interesting and very complex issue, what pulls a child towards heritage/culture - how they look, the predominant culture in which they live, the parents culture?
I don't think any child is really born anything - you are only Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Buddist or whatever because your parents are carrying on a tradition, its not genetic. So what does that mean for other aspects of culture and heritage ?
I think its interesting that where a child is mixed heritage, the focus is always on promoting the ethnic minority element. But what about the white heritage ? Do we assume thats taken care of because they live within a majority white culture?
If Silverback was three quarters black and one quarter white, would you be concerned about promoting his white heritage ? Why do you feel 'who he is' is so strongly black, when thats the smallest part of his heritage ? If you did not know who his birth father was and did nothing, do you think he would grow up feeling something is missing or conflicted about his identity ? Its just another perspective and I appreciate that its a very white perspective, because I am.
Its not that I don't think its important or irrelevant. It absolutely is. Simba's birth mum is white, dad is from Zimbabwe. His Zimbabean heritage is a very important, and I need to both honour that heritage and critically prepare him to live in a world which perceives him as black and all the implications that carries with it. The approach I've taken is not to focus necessarily on specific aspects of culture, but to give him confidence and pride in himself as a young black man. I want him to understand that prejudice exists and equip him to live in a difficult world and not feel like he is inferior in anyway. To me that feels more important than food, music or festivals.
We do listen to some African music, I read him Zimbabwean folk stories, we go to events and gigs. My house is full of african artwork, textiles and things that I've brought back from my travels which we use every day. I've taken him to Africa, though sadly not to Zimbabwe yet. Interestingly in Gambia, the local kids perceived him as white, in Morocco most people thought he was Moroccan!
I make sure he has lots of positive images of black people, I've ensured he goes to a school with a good ethnic mix. His heroes are primarily mixed heritage - Lewis Hamilton, Jess Ennis, KJT, dozens of football players, or black - Mo Farah. The music he listens to is very much black youth culture. But his friends are mostly white - he gravitates towards other autistic young people or the less 'cool' kids. He just isnt very 'street'. The only thing at the moment he gets really engaged in is his hair - he is desparate to have a full on Afro, but I won't let him until he learns how to look after his hair on his own. We have compromised on a flat top, and we have found a black barber so it gets cut properly.
I dont think there are any easy answers. Interestingly tomorrow I've been invited to a meeting with the Minister for Children and Families looking at why black and minority ethnic children stay in care longer than white children.
Mum to the 'hansom' Simba, age 16 and 40 now retired teddy bears
Just wanted to say that we are a very international family. We have European, Chinese, Cuban and North African roots in varying doses in our kids (and not all the same either). I feel the most important aspect is giving them a strong identity within your family. Who they are is normal, I do not even try and teach them they are ok to be who they are, because that indicates that there is a discussion to be had whether they actually are.
It has worked for me so far, 27 and 18-year-old are completely comfortable in their own skins as to heritage and their place in the world and 8-year-old only ever queries what her original name was, well, is obsessed. As for heritage, she knows it, it does not feature that much in daily life and tbh we have bigger fish to fry.
I have honestly never understood race and get confused by racist innuendo. Just does not seem logical to me. I suppose, I do not so much "look" at people, rather try and get a feel for them as people.
Married to Bumblebear, 3 1/2 kids, a mix of adopted and home-made.