Is Biracial the Same as Black?

I’ve had this question roiling around in my head for years. Is being biracial the same thing as being black? (I hope it’s obvious that I understand this is about a mix where there’s at least one part black.)

Every time I bump up against this question, I get nervous. I’m uncomfortable with it, which is why I’ve avoided writing about it for so long.

But I’ve decided that I need to make a stand, for myself, if not for any other reason. And as a white mother to a biracial child, I’m going to say, no. No biracial is not the same as black.

I see this idea posted around the internet and have had multiple conversations (mostly with Toyin) on this topic where black people are generally insistent that it’s the same thing. In other words, they say, biracial means black when it comes to how they may be viewed by a racist culture. And to that I say, sure. Possibly. Probably in many cases.

Is biracial black?
Is biracial black?

For the most part, I have sided with the general consensus in the African American community, agreeing with them about racist acts and arguing for things even when I don’t fully understand them myself. Because I know that as a white person, I don’t get to decide about things that don’t affect me in negative ways.

I have come to the point where I believe that I fully comprehend the amount of privilege that has been bestowed upon me and my life just for the benefit of having white skin. And perhaps, it is that privilege that gives me the ability to speak up about this. Finally. Or maybe it’s that I finally understand the injustice of it all. Ironic, huh? That my understanding of injustice has led me to come back around to this.

So here’s my thoughts on biracial being the same as black. Every time I hear a black person say that, I feel angry. I feel a little betrayed. And I feel shut out of my own daughter’s life.

I know that isn’t the motive. But anyone who understands racism knows that lack of malicious intent is not a good excuse.

So here’s the thing. I get what they mean is that biracial people often have the same experiences as black people who are not biracial. I get that you are lumping biracial people in with the collective of folks who are the recipients of societal mistreatment and stereotypes.

But refusing to acknowledge someone’s choice of self definition or declaring with indignant fervor that “It’s all the same,” belittles and marginalizes all people who choose to self identify as biracial rather than black. In some cases, I read into the statement a “Don’t bother trying to identify with your other side. They won’t accept you.” Or, more often it feels like, “Why do you want to acknowledge them? Stay with us.” Why does it have to be them vs us? Feeding that notion just feeds more racism and I find it completely irrational when minorities perpetuate notions that don’t uplift a future that holds less racism, not more. (Kind of how I feel about gay Republicans. What’s up with that?)

This may sound a little crazy, but even when I read a random internet comment of some black person I don’t even know saying that biracial is the same as black, it leads me to feel marginalized and betrayed in my own child’s life. Just for a second. But when you start to add up the seconds, it starts to feel like a lot.

When my daughter was first born, I worried that as she aged, she would push me aside once she fully embraced the racial construction of American society. At the time, President Obama was just becoming president and I felt a little pained by his insistence at being called black rather than biracial. I wondered how that made his mother and grandparents feel.

Now that I’m five years into motherhood, I realize that part of that was my new motherhood insecurities. But still, it rankles me. It’s also possible that he did it for political reasons. Our own president, the most powerful man in the world, deconstructed by a racist society.

In a recent study, biracial and multiracial people were shown to have felt the need to “pass” as black in many instances to avoid rejection or derision from the black community and often felt just as much racism, if not more, from people of color.

The biracial/multiracial person does have many of the same experiences as the person who defines themselves as black or African American. Out in the world.

But at home, with family members who span all the races and colors of skin, it’s not the same.

Ergo, the biracial person may not experience many of the same issues that black people experience. They will, ultimately, be forced to view the world through the same lens in some instances. But I think that at the biracial and multiracial population grows, we need to allow for broader definitions. Be okay with the idea that some people choose to embrace both sides of their culture. And who knows? Perhaps the worldview can change if we all start seeing things just a little differently.

Please Stop Telling Moms that You Know Mothering is Hard

This might not make life easier for all mothers, but it would for me. Let's get this thing here in the U.S. already!
This might not make life easier for all mothers, but it would for me. Let’s get this thing here in the U.S. already!

I’m freaking tired of reading about how ungodly hard mothering is. Yeah, we fucking know! So what are we going to do about it as a society?

First of all, I just want to say, all the reasons that people are always listing about why mothering is hard are wrong. I’m not a housekeeper, a cook, a janitor, a chauffeur, a therapist, an office manager, a CEO, or any of the other stupid things assigned to me in articles like this.

There is only one reason why mothering is hard. It’s because you are in charge of other human beings. Adding a few extra loads of laundry per week to your household duties, driving someone to a class/school, and cooking for other people is not the hard part. It’s the fact that you are in charge of getting tiny, irrational, emotionally immature, underdeveloped human beings. You have to get them to move their bodies and eat food and you’re in charge of their emotional well-being.

What pisses me off about those articles is that those ideas are extremely dismissive about what’s important to mothering.

Our culture isn’t set up to make mothering easier. Yesterday was Mother’s Day and in our culture buying a woman flowers and/or taking her out or fixing her food is how we tell ourselves we are being appreciative. And while it’s really nice to get flowers and food, it doesn’t truly make my life as a mother any easier.

Things Society Could Do to Make Mothering/Parenting Easier:

Give parents flex time at work. All people who have small/young human beings at home should be allowed to set their own schedule when possible.

Give parents extra time off work in the beginning. I’m not talking about six weeks or 12 weeks or whatever the fuck maternity leave is anymore. I’m talking, like six months, a year, 18 months. Yeah, that sounds good.

When Annika was six weeks old, I remember very clearly wondering just how the hell women went back to work at that time. I felt unbelievably grateful that I didn’t have to go back to work. Hell, my body wasn’t even fully healed. It took months and months to feel relatively normal again inside my own skin. I think that I would’ve had a full-on mental breakdown if I’d had to put my baby in daycare at six weeks. And it breaks my heart to think that we are a country full of women who often feel like they simply have no other choice.

Automatically give parents food stamps and free health care for themselves and their children.

Give businesses tax breaks for hiring parents back into the workforce after a few years of staying at home to take care of infants/toddlers.

Stop being such jerks about public school. I don’t know about other places and frankly I’m too tired to look it up, but here in Austin, TX, you can get a ticket if your child is late to school too many times. When I was a kid, if your parent wanted to let you play hooky or if you were late, it was no big deal. They wrote a note. Nowadays, parents are getting in trouble. What the EVERLOVINGFUCK is that about? It’s bullshit. And it has zero to do with education and all to do with money/financial support from the government who thinks that if they hold everyone accountable with anal retentive standards that somehow we will become a smarter society. They have it so, so very wrong.

Give parents access to free or low-cost therapy. Parents need to vent. A lot. They also need to have someone to bounce ideas off of and work out their own shit inside of a safe space.

Let’s start talking about what’s really hard about mothering/parenting. I think we all know that we are generally appreciated. But it’d be really fucking nice if society started helping move that into making our daily lives easier instead of minimizing mothers by appreciating us with a commercialized annual meal.


A Sleep Mask is a Mother’s Best Friend

sleepmaskI recently found my old sleep mask. It wasn’t lost. It was inside the drawer of my old bedside table that I recently moved over to the other side of the bed, where Annika still sleeps. She was perusing through the drawer and found it. Tried it on and then relinquished it only because it was way too big, even with her huge hair.

I haven’t used this thing in years. I had even forgotten that I had it. Then I remember how much better rested I used to be when I wore it.

I hate sleeping with lights on in my room, yet, I have a nightlight for Annika. She’s been “scared of the dark” since she was about 3.

So, the past two nights I’ve worn it. I’m waking up feeling more refreshed, better rested than I have in years. It’s amazing. Get one.

Side note: Yes, I realize I haven’t updated this blog in about two months. I know. I’m sure nobody’s reading anymore except the few hundred spam bots and unbelievably stupid guest posters who keep emailing me with ridiculous ideas like, “How to Find a Babysitter.” Yes, because all my readers, who are interested in hearing about a single mom who parents using attachment parenting principles are interested in using Craigslist to find a nanny. Um, no thanks.