Why Is My Skin A Different Color?

Raising a biracial or black child typically has more challenges for people of a different race. This is especially true if the father is out of the picture. I’m sure a lot of the problems, as far as racism and ignorance go, have decreased. However, some remain. Preschool aged children are too young to understand race but they do recognize physical differences. It’s more about curiosity at that age. It is beneficial to expose your child to people with as many different skin tones as possible. If you live in an area with little diversity, you can show them books or art work. It’s important for them to know that there are many different “kinds” of people in the world. Point out differences only in a positive way like “She has blond hair and you have brown hair. Isn’t it cool how people have all different colors of hair “. My child used to point out other biracial children and say things like “She looks like me mama”. I always made it a positive thing like “you are both really beautiful”. Try to not make too big of a deal on the race of a person, but more on personality characteristics like “Rocky is really nice isn’t he”. Try to avoid referring to people by race to or around your child. You cannot eliminate all issues but creating a positive foundation is crucial.

By the time your child starts elementary school, they may be more aware of social categories and groups pertaining to race. As with younger children, you have to discourage labeling. Your child may begin to ask questions like “why aren’t I brown like dad”. Try to explain it in a way they will understand like “you are a mixture of both mom and dad. You look like both of us”. Adoptive parents can point out that people don’t always have to be the same color to be a family. There are so many books out there that can help with this also. Talking to your child about this can help eliminate their involvement in teasing and excluding other children.

As they get older, biracial children may have issues with identity. They may feel like they have to be “blacker” or straighten their curly hair and stay out of the sun to be as white as possible. This is one the reasons you should start talking to them early on and build on a positive self-image for them so they can be confident in their appearance. Make them feel special for having “the best of both worlds”. Educate them on both cultures and make them proud to have two backgrounds. At the same time, you have to prepare them for the negative things as well. Racism is still very much alive today. Make sure they know that this is only ignorance and fear. But, by keeping them surrounded by diversity and creating a positive self-image, it will set them up to deal with this in a much better way.

Be there for your children and let them know that you will always be there to help them through anything that comes their way! It is so much better now than it was just 20 years ago. It can only get better from here. In the year 2000, the U.S. Census Bureau finally allowed citizens to check more than one box for race. Guess how many did? It was 6.8 million and by 2010, it spiked to 9! National Geographic has estimated that by 2050, the average American will look mixed (see picture below). Interracial couples are becoming more and more common and our children are proof that beautiful things come from these unions!

Next week, I will be discussing more hair care tips as it is so much information to learn. But, I hope this topic shined a little light on an issue that so many people face. Comment with your opinions and stay tuned for next week!

-Sherry Ulvick
Average American 2050