I apparently hadn't given enough consideration to the reality of raising bi-racial children. By the time my twins were born six years ago we had a truly blended family and home life in quite a quirky way. I had already six children from my first marriage, my ex's family and I remained very close and they even accepted my new husband as a part of the family; we adopted a barely teenage boy who was half African American and half Puerto Rican; the house was always full of neighbor kids of all backgrounds and cultures.
My husband is brown and I am white, of European decent. He doesn't know what nationalites his ancestors are so I use the term brown as it is his preference. When we became pregnant, the subject had come up of course in conversation between friends and even between my husband and myself out of fear that the children may have issues out in the world with prejudice. I was told by many that it was certain to happen and to prepare myself for it. What I wasn't prepared for was that it would sneak into our home. It entered through what I would have thought to be the most unlikely source...the twins themselves.
It was sorta funny at first with the games they came up with on their own. I've mentioned before the time we were in the mall and Anthony had to jump onto the light tiles because he's white and Ashley had to jump from dark tile to dark tile because she's brown. I didn't say anything at the time - it seemed innocent enough, right? But this game they played at the mall was more and more a way of identifying themselves. Soon, they decided Ashley would have chocolate ice cream and he would have vanilla. She'll have chocolate milk 'cause its brown and he'll have strawberry because its not. By now I've mentioned to them from time to time that everyone is their own color - nobody in our family is exactly the same color, although ironically, Ashley and our "adopted" son are too close to detect a difference.
Today, we were walking in the store parking lot, the twins; one of their older brothers, Josh; Josh's girlfriend; her nephew, and me. Anthony announces hey we are five white people and one brown! Mind you now they are bi-racial TWINS, and the other child is Mexican. Ok... enough. Time for me to start asking questions I think to myself. His skin is pale and hers is carmel colored, true and while they aren't insinuating that one skin color is better than another by any measure, my concern here is that they not make more of an issue out of skin color than it deserves, but they seem to be more aware and focused on this difference between them than I am comfortable with.
I've asked if there has been any conversation in school about people's skin color, or if classmates have made comments. Their responses were "no". It may just be a game with them and nothing to worry about because they are also very focused on the differences between boys and girls, even definining certain colors as boy/girl colors beyond blue and pink. Did you know red is a girl color and yellow is a boy color? This was decided because red is Ashley's favorite and yellow is Anthony's.
I've only started to investigate this phenomenon that has entered our home. I've just started reading the book Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria written by Beverly Danielle Tatum, Ph.D. (I'm so aggravated with myself for leaving it in my drawer at work... I got so busy that I forgot I brought it.)Hopefully that will give me some skills to help to guide them to a healthy way of developing their identity that doesn't focus so much on skin color. I mean, I want to live in a world where that is only as important as eye color or hair color when describing an individual. I can't expect that to happen if it's not even happening in my own house... can I?
I'm open to advice and I guess posting this to ask for advice, support, or anyone that can identify and comiserate (sp?).