In the 2000 census, 2.4 million people described themselves as more than one race, 784,764 people classified themselves as both Black and White, and these numbers are actually under-representative. Many people will choose to only identify themselves as only one race leaving the true number of bi- or multiracial Americans a mystery to match the Sphinx.
But what we do know is that these numbers are growing and our country is becoming more and more of that melting pot that we learned about in grade school. The 2000 census also showed 2.7 million interracial marriages. And 3.7% of married Black women were just like my friend Lia, married to a non-Black spouse and many, just like my friend Lia, are mothers to biracial babies. May they all be as precious as her cutie!
Name: Lia Rogers
Location: North Chicago suburbs
Mothering Situation: Mother to a biracial baby
Child: Neveah 8 months
Describe the details of your unique mothering situation: I am black and my husband of 3 1/2 years is white. We gave birth to a beautiful little girl 8 months ago.
Your favorite thing about being a mom: I'm a self-described goofball mommy, and it's fun to have someone I can make funny faces and voices for and not be judged. LOL!
What challenges have you faced? I think overcoming labels and others' stereotypes are the main challenges. Because Nevaeh has a lighter complexion than myself and looks a little more like her dad, I get a few stares when it's just me and her. But I've learned to ignore them. Another challenge is diversity. We live in a predominantly white suburb and I'm constantly worried that she isn't getting exposed to the diversity that she represents. As an infant, this isn't such a big deal, but once she gets older and starts interacting with other children a bit more, I would like her to be more exposed to different ethnicities.
How have you overcome these challenges? Here's a story that illustrates that challenge: When Nevaeh was first born, I had her in the stroller and an elderly white lady wanted to see the baby. I opened the stroller cover and the woman just stared and was barely able to speak -- I guess she was expecting a cute chocolate brown baby like myself. She was finally able to speak and mumbled "how cute" and went on her way. It's situations like this one that are beginning to prepare me to be more educated about raising a biracial child. Not being biracial myself, I don't know what she will go through in her life or what personal challenges she will face, but I have to learn as much as I can. I can often be found on message boards catering to parents of biracial children and I also talk to friends who are multiracial to get their perspective.
As far as diversity, both her dad and I will have to be on the ball to help expose her to the positivity and beauty of the unique cultures that are a part of her. I joke that I want her to have on one of those curly wigs and be an Irish step dancer one day and wear kente cloth and perform African dances the next. We will make sure that she knows how to make lefse (a Norwegian potato pancake) and hot water cornbread!
Describe your parenting support system? My husband, my family and my friends. My husband is very sensitive and aware of how Nevaeh will be different than some of her classmates. As a black woman, I am a little bit more in tuned to some of the issues she will probably face and when we discussed having children, I shared those issues with him.
How do they help overcome your challenges? It's so much easier to have the support of good husband, family and friends. When my husband I got married, we were blessed to have the support of our friends and family. We realize many interracial couples and families are not that lucky. Nevaeh receives nothing but infinite love from BOTH sides of her family. Plus, it's pretty cool that she has both a "big mama" and a "nana."
What are the motherhood joys that other mothers would not know because they are not in your shoes? This situation just makes me value her uniqueness even more--even beyond race, looks, hair texture, skin, complexion. She is more than that and it's up to her dad and I to foster that self-love in her and I think the whole process of doing that will be the bigger payoff and the joys of motherhood.
What are your future family plans (have more children, adopt, etc.)? Right now, no, but we are eternally on God's calendar, so who knows?
How has your mothering situation impacted how you are approaching the future? It's making me be a diligent Mother Cub to make sure she is treated for the special person she is and not how she looks on the outside and it also makes me be more diligent about teaching her to love herself for who she is. That's something that unfortunately a lot of girls, no matter what race they are, have trouble doing.
What do you want others to know about mothers like you (something they may not know)? I'd like them to know that having a biracial child was the least of our issues when we decided to have children. As a mom who survived a liver transplant two years before Nevaeh was born, and a "complicated pregnancy" (so said my ob/gyn), we just wanted a healthy baby and that's what God blessed us with.