We are the 15%


Yep, that is my family in the picture. I identify as Black. My wife is White. Our child is blended, multiracial. (Black, White, Cuban, Seminole) We are part of the growing group of Americans in multiracial marriages. According to the most recent census, 15% of new marriages were interracial. So, we are excited to be a part of the project in the above link. But, you know, it's interesting. After posting this link on Facebook, there were many wonderful comments. Very cool actually. However, most of these comments focused on the picture. Are comments focusing on only the picture problematic? Not exactly. They are potentially missing the point. Here's why. These comments did not acknowledge the reason why the picture was on Facebook. Participation in a wonderful, thought-provoking, 21st Century project. It's not about the cuteness of the picture. It's about being a part of this. Celebrating a partnership still not fully embraced by American society. (If you doubt this, look at the reaction to that Cheerios commercial featuring a multiracial family.) Most importantly, posting this picture was validating my daughter's experience. This is what her family looks like. And there isn't anything wrong with that. The people who made these comments might have been showing their support by sharing some nice thoughts, but I still came away feeling a lack of affirmation of my daughter's identity. Did people even look at the site? I hope so. But, I did send a friend a link to the site, and she asked me what was the 15%, even though it was clearly explained on the website. Perhaps people were avoiding the obvious due to some level of discomfort acknowledging a topic connected to race. If that is the case, I challenge people, especially white allies, to lean into discomfort. Discussing race does not equal being racist.

As a black father of a lighter skinned daughter, I certainly receive looks often as I walk with her. Am I surprised? Nope. I am surprised that people are so transparent and obvious and that they are making a lot of assumptions about me and my situation. I wholeheartedly believe that people are entitled to their opinions. I don't have to respect or agree with them, but that is a right of this country. My daughter is reminded that we are a family. That her parents not only love her, but each other. That we are happy that we found each other. I certainly didn't wake up one day with a strong desire or preference to get with a white woman. I just found someone who understands me and loves me for who I am. I think I grew up picturing that I would marry someone who looked like me. Now, I can't picture being with anyone other than my spouse. Race just continues to dumbfound so much of our country. I feel there are people close to me fearful of acknowledging not just my race, but race in general. I don't think this is only because of a lack of the right vocabulary. I think this is more avoidance. None of this is easy, but working hard to not have conversations involving race can alienate people of color. Finally, I do hope that people avoid the concept of "color blindness" because it's not only impossible, given our country's history and the impact of the media, but also potentially disrespectful to "not notice" someone's race.

Posted on August 10, 2013 .