I’ve been reading a bunch of posts lately, by hapa parents and/or parents of hapas, about that periennial old miscegenated bugaboo [no, not the stroller, look it up], the “why don’t I/how can they/who’s keeping me from fit(ting) into the group(s) I/they claim as my/their own” question. Twizzle touched on how the media’s “black enough/not black enough” game with Sen. Barack Obama raised the old questions for her and her daughter over on Kimchi Mamas. Carol wrote about yearning for a community of multiracial/interracial AsAm families and why it’s important to her on Bokumbop. Over on her blog, Mama Nabi sought tips about how to teach her mixed daughter about difference after LN started making her first early connections between difference and ideas about “normality.” Michelle Myers wrote a deep post on Anti-Racist Parent about how and why a multiracial child might not even find community in that most basic of places, the family unit. And on connected notes, on Rice Daddies, Monster Daddy wrote about how his daughter’s formulation of Chinese-ness (and its equation with abnormality) is freaking him the fuck out, while Soulsnax, before he even joined us, called out the forces of mental colonization and self-hatred for already messing with his newborn daughter in her first days of life.
Okay, it’s way later than I’ve been staying up lately, so I’m sorta rambling here, but this kinda shit is stuff I’ve been thinking about and grappling with my entire adult life, as someone who calls himself, variously, a student, a teacher, an activist, a scholar, a parent, and, important here, a multiracial Asian American. Before I totally become incoherent, let me do a couple things. First, here’s a link to Prof. Maria Root’s “Bill of Rights for Racially Mixed People” (opens PDF file). Yeah, I know the name changed, but that’s what it was called when the joint came out in college, so that’s what it still is to me. I’ve linked to it elsewhere and often, but this thing crystallized so much for me back in those heady identity-formation-filled college days.
Second, check out this essay by African American Salon.com columnist (and mother of two biracial black/white kids) Debra Dickerson [yes, she of the infamous "Barack's not 'black' black b/c he's not descended from West African enslaved people in North America" argument, which really was more about how some white folks might be giving themselves a guilt-free pass for supporting a "black" candidate without dealing with America's racial history and present than about labeling or de-labeling Brother Obama, but anyway]: “Don’t be black on my account: A black mother’s gift to her biracial children.” It’s a fascinating look at how a politically and socially conscious and active mom of color from a community with a different history with miscegenation and the inclusion/exclusion of racially mixed people than AsAms is reckoning with these kind of hard questions in her own life and family.
At any rate, I hope this article, and bits and pieces of the blogposts I’ve referenced here, might open up dialogue in the comments here about these issues—about creating, finding, and redefining community for us and for our children, about ideas of inclusion and exclusion, about how our own experiences with all this crap in our own lives affects, consciously and unconsciously, how we might deal with this stuff in teaching our children about it, and about themselves, their families, identities and communities, and what it all means.
Okay, that’s ramble-y enough. Time for bed. Heh.
Jason Sperber is a former stay-at-home-dad of a 2-year-old daughter (“The Pumpkin”) and the husband of a family physician (“la dra.”) living in California’s Central Valley. He is currently a writer/blogger/online community manager. A former high school social studies teacher, he has a background in ethnic studies and education for social justice. He writes the blog daddy in a strange landand coordinates Rice Daddies, the group blog by Asian American dads. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.