All over the blogosphere I see black women decrying the colorism of black men. My e-mail box is full of it and it seems to have seriously affected a lot of black women. I saw an episode of Tyra Banks where these women were willing to undergo all manner of gruesome side-effects in order to get lighter. I’ve heard horrific tales about women being rejected for being on the wrong side of the paper bag test. This is not something I personally have been impacted by. I have to assume that it really hit hard with the generation of women who grew up with cable and videos, which is not something I experienced.
Having said all that, I need to ask the burning question: As the mother of a son how can I raise him to not be colorstruck? Don’t get me wrong; being interracially married myself, it would be hypocritical for me to say that I don’t want my son to marry interracially. However, it would break my heart if he selected his partners based solely on their skin color.
Maybe I’ve missed it, but in all the discussions around the blogosphere on this issue, I don’t see anyone talking about this particular aspect. Presumably my son will be just as susceptible to the media images as any other hormonally impacted boy. (Just for the record, he’s already girl crazy as hell, so I’m pretty sure he’s hetero, not that there’s anything wrong with that.)
Has anyone else thought about this? Have any ideas, suggestions, recommendations? For the most part his schools will be pretty diverse, so he should definitely be around a goodly mixture of girls, but other than that, what should we do?
9 thoughts on “Raising a Son Who’s Not Colorstruck”
I’ll tell you off the bat, I don’t have an answer.
But I just wanted to commensurate. We’ll be moving in a week, but where I live now there is one Black lady who’s children are IR. She’s divorced. But every time her daughter comes to play, she’s always noting to my kids about color. She always has some color comment to make. I try to nod and dismiss as my children look on. I don’t make a big deal about color but I don’t know how to calm the neighbor’s child about it. I do put on music videos by black singers and dance my buck off lol. I think they can see in my face, behavior that I’m not recoiled at black or white or whatever color.
If I may suggest something, I think if he sees that you are okay with whoever depending on that person’s behavior rather than their color, I think he’ll have it ingrained in him to be that way too -even if he may go through a phase or not- it may just be a phase to see how you react.
I don’t have an answer but I have a suggestion. PLEASE make sure that you point out the beauty in all races. My problem with the video crowd is that beauty is so narrowly defined. Make sure that he see’s that kinky hair and broad noses can be just as attractive as straight hair and thin lips.
I have no doubt you and Whit will figure this out. Just make sure he’s exposed to everything.
I’m new here having recently read your book Rock Star and subsequently found your blog.
I’m also raising biracial children (I’m black, my husband is white) and feel fortunate that both of our families play a large role in their lives so they are growing up with an appreciation and familiarity of both cultures.
We also live and operate in a pretty diverse setting. As pp’s have suggested I think keeping an open and flowing dialogue is key in laying the proper foundation for any important issue.
My struggle is dealing with other people’s infatuation and sometimes untoward fascination with my children’s looks and genetic background. I am very adamant that other people’s issues will not unduly impact how my kids feel about themselves and others. Compliments are fine but when you start fanatically praising blue eyes, light skin and long hair, whether you are black or white we move along.
This is long enough for an introductory post : )
First things first Kia, thank you so much for reading my book. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I too have encountered people who seem infatuated with my son’s ‘biracialness.’ Which is odd to me because to me he’s just another little black boy. Right after he was born I had to get stupid with one of my relatives over this madness. I guess as long as I’m diligent about that kind of thing and don’t have him running around thinking he’s speshul because he’s biracial. Okay, damnit, he IS SPECIAL, but not because of his skin color. (Yeah, I’m a doting mama!)
you try to raise your child to believe that people are people regardless of their skin color. That the majority of people who do good or bad do it because that’s who they are. But when you asked that question I had to really think—am I color blind—I grew up in Black Atlanta and when I say that I mean my whole world was black, neighborhood, school, church. I really didn’t get to meet, know anyone of a different ethnicity until I joined the Air Force. Culture shock- but what I learned is that they were just like me scared of themselves we were scared of each other. Your child will echo you.
I think we have to teach our children to appreciate the beauty of different colors, shapes, and sizes and not just let them take their cue from mass media kind of like we do when it comes to music and literature. I feel sorry for people that can only see beauty in one or two “type” of people. They miss out on so much. The crazy thing is that most of the people I know who are color struck are nowhere near the color they are struck with. Beauty is not an either or thing, when asked to chose between Beyonce and India Arie I always answer in the words of Radio “BOTH”
I think simply seeing the positive and loving image of Daddy (your hubby) appreciating your brown colour daily will send a powerful message that Mummy (and any other person whose colour is similar to Mummy’s) is beautiful and worthy. I am sure you already surround yourself with like-minded relatives, friends etc who hopefully are at ease within themsleves and exude a healthy self-esteem. Thank goodness you dealt with the relative who was all excited about his biracialness. Such foolishness!
Kids will pick up these subliminal messages. If kids are colourstruck or practising colourism, you can bet Mum or Dad or whosoever is their primary care-giver is the one, conciously or not – planting those seeds. The worry is school – it is difficult to control what other kids say/think or do and he may receive negative messages from playmates – I guess constant open communication is vital here. This way he shares stuff with you about his day, friends, etc and you can sensitively address whatever issues come up. It is safe to remain vigilant though, colourism is an insidous poison which can easily take root.
Rosalyn, I have to say knowledge is power. Exposure to diverse people, books (The Bluest Eye is my favorite), other media (Uncle Ruckus), and yes even those who ARE colorstruck is a good thing.
Ask questions, find out what he thinks and why.
Kids are smart. You might be surprised by what he would deduce on his own from observing those who are one hue believing the other hue is innately better.