Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Interracial Marriages and the Effects on Children

Interracial marriages can include the union of Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Whites, and any other group. However, when people talk about race relations, the focus is on Blacks and Whites. No matter what ethnic groups are involved, one major result of these marriages are children.

Children from interracial marriages are no longer denied the same benefits and privileges as the children prior to Loving. Celebrities like Tiger Woods may have changed society's views on interracial children, but are there more serious effects on these children than what is shown by Tiger Woods? These effects and the history of interracial marriages will be the focus of this annotated bibliography.

The troubles biracial children may face as they grow up, but the advantages a child may have because he/she is biracial. First, a child needs to be completely prepared to face racism. Categorization and racism pose a problem to a biracial child. Those who are racist thinkers need to place everyone into a category, but a biracial child does not fit neatly into a category. Racists may become more resentful and more racist towards these children, and these children may draw inordinate amounts of attention in situations in which the usual racial category system has no clear place for somebody who seems not to fit in one category or another.

A second problem a biracial child may experience is that he/she could encounter an identity crisis because they embody two racial groups that are defined very differently in the category system of American racism. When the child is old enough to understand their identity, the parents need to step in and educate the child. This is not always easy for the parents who usually come from two completely different backgrounds. However, parents have concurred that it is absolutely essential that a biracial child have a clear and positive sense of identity.

A third problem a biracial child may face is conflicts with their grandparents. At times grandparents may become very attached to the child and the biracial family will draw closer together. However, even though the grandparents are very attached to the child, at times the White grandparents historic views overcome them, and they will still keep their distance because of the fear they will get labeled for associating with a Black family. This resentment and distance of the grandparents leaves a lasting impression on the biracial child and how they are viewed by society.

One last negative effect children receive because of their racial identify comes from their siblings. Some biracial children can pass as White while others can not. This can result in the whiter child receiving privileges society will deny to the darker skinned child. This will ultimately lead to resentment in the family and barriers to sibling closeness. On the other hand, the child who can pass as White may bring with them a lifetime of identity struggles, the unpleasantness of secret keeping, and personal and family pain arising from efforts to hide the existence of relatives of color.

There are some advantages to biracial children and their families. First the child has the particular value of knowing multiple racial perspectives and will be better able to relate to people in more than one racial group. In addition, some parents learn things about their own sense of identity as they work in bringing up their own children which helps both the child and parent. A second advantage is within education. A biracial child can gain the educational advantages which are given to children of color. One example is the Negro college fund. These benefits have been established to achieve educational goals for the whole population and t attempt to reduce the damage caused by racism.

2 comments:

21st Century Dad said...

I am happily committed to my partner of a different race (Asian male, Caucasian female) We aren't married yet, but we function like we are.

Our experience has been a good one. Our union has been well received by our friends and her family.

We are a blended family. She has a son from a previous marriage (he is 100% Caucasian "Euro-mutt") and we have a 5 month old daughter together.

One area I didn't anticipate changing was my attitude toward my own racial heritage. Growing up in South Florida, I didn't have much contact with other Asians. Being Asian was the catalyst for ridicule and teasing, so I went through a period in my life where I was angry and I rejected my Korean background. Why should I embrace something that was the reason I was cast off and ridiculed?

After my daughter was born, I started thinking about the issues that biracial children face. It was also the awakening of an interest in my own background. For years, I had been "whitewashed" or called "banana" or "Twinkie." I didn't care. I had my own identity to forge. In some ways, I feel like a mix who happens to look primarily Asian.

I was appalled to find out how biracial children are treated in Korea. It was such a stark contrast to the unconditional love my partner and I feel for our daughter and the warm reception she has received by all we've encountered.

dating said...

I agree that kids comment each other, no matter what the race. It's how we raise our kids to deal with the commenting and teasing that matters most. There's nothing wrong being a interracial couple.Kids always pick and comment on each other - that's part of being a kid.