The Hopes and Fears in Raising a Minority Child
Written by Guest Blogger Natalie Robinson
The day I started dating my husband, Edward, was the first day I started hearing comments about how our future children would turn out. One of the first reactions I received on my interracial relationship went something like this: “Hey, I’m happy for you, but oh my, I can already see it, you’re going to have really dark kids with crazy hair! What are you going to do about your child’s hair?!” Comments like this annoyed me and made me wonder why my future children being dark with tightly coiled hair was such a bad thing. Contrary to what everyone expected, my firstborn son, Emmanuel, was born with light skin and fine hair, and the comments turned into: “Oh he’s beautiful, so glad he got your good genes!” To most, he is a precious hispanic boy, seemingly without a trace of blackness. I easily feel offended and a myriad of fears creep into my heart.
For one, I fear that my son, and any other future children I may have, will believe a lie about what makes a person beautiful; believe the hype that he is better looking than someone like his own father. The long-standing definition of beauty calls for lighter skin and fine hair, which my son favors. As he grows up, I can already imagine the compliments he will receive because of it. In fact, I have already noticed some who pridefully smother him in kisses of adoration, rejoicing that his physical appearance represents my ethnicity and not my husband’s.
I also fear that my son will become ethnically confused and lack identity. Taking on the appearance of a hispanic boy, he is also growing up around his Abuelos, Tios, and primos, which may mean he will build a better connection with his Puerto Rican family than his black family that lives states away. Or maybe not, maybe he will prefer his African-American heritage over being Puerto Rican as he observes his father’s cultural ways. Or maybe, confused between his divided heritage, he will not embrace either culture. Nevertheless, he cannot stop being one or the other. He is both, permanently.
Although he’s both, I have a strong fear that he will be marginalized and mistreated, particularly because of his African-American heritage. It is obvious and disheartening that racism still exists in the world, including in America. As a wife to a black man and a mother to a half-black son, I am concerned for the safety of my men. This anxiety remains despite the fact that my son may not be as dark as his father. It is clear by the example of a boy like Tamir Rice that lighter skinned African-American boys are not exempt from racial profiling. In more recent news, the Philando Castile shooting brought me to tears as I realized this dreadful reality isn’t getting better with time. It only makes me wonder what the future holds for my half-black son.
Nevertheless, I have much hope that through Christ, Emmanuel Isaias Robinson, will come to comprehend how his ethnic blend serves a greater purpose as it was ultimately determined by the providence of God.
I hope to teach him that he isn’t beautiful because of his skin tone or hair texture, but because he was fearfully and wonderfully made by the perfect hands of the Creator (Psalm 139). If God had decided to give him a darker complexion or thick tight curls, he would still be beautiful, for every being has been well-thought out and designed. He needs to know that God created distinct colors and features for different people, giving each a beauty of his own. My prayer is that his father and I serve as examples to that truth as he observes our physical differences.
I hope to teach him to appreciate being ethnically diverse, encouraging him to learn his Puerto Rican and African-American history. In other words, I desire for him to engage in both cultures: to speak Spanish and appreciate Black History Month. To enjoy time with my hispanic family, as well as his urban church family. I want him to be able to go in and out of both worlds feeling equally a part of each culture.
I hope that his familiarity with both black and brown people would lead him into being motivated to embrace the inclusion and pursuit of all nations in God’s Great Commission. That being of two heritages, he may have a greater compassion and drive to serve any and all people. Furthermore, I hope his dual heritage serves to teach him to never give up in doing good, seeking justice, and correcting oppression (Isaiah 1:17). As a descendent of a marginalized, oppressed, and broken people, may my son never forget the heart that God has for the least, the last, and the lost.
So even as I raise my biracial son in a corrupt world, through much fear and many hopes, I can echo the words of the old hymn which says:
My hope is built on nothing less
than Jesus' blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
but wholly lean on Jesus' name.
About Natalie Robinson
Born and raised in a Christian home, I came to know the Lord as a preteen. I am married to my college sweetheart and best friend, Edward, and I am a new mother to my baby boy, Emmanuel. I graduated from The Master's College with a degree in Communications, Print Media. Currently, I am a stay-at-home mom with a strong desire to homeschool and raise children in the ways of the Lord. I enjoy sharing my life and faith on my blog at onebridgetolife.com.