mixed mamas with "white" babies? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 05-28-2009, 03:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey all,

I'm going to have my first baby in a little while.

Anyhow, I'm mixed - half-Korean, half-white - and I was mostly raised by my mother (Korean parent). My baby's father is white. My baby is going to be mostly white and will probably look whiter than I do.

I have two fears. One, I am scared sometimes about how I will pass on my culture. My mom and I had a lot of struggles growing up but ultimately I believe her ways are beneficial, and I'll be raising my child that way too, as much as I can.

The other is that because my kid is going to look white, and I look ambiguous, and given the right context pretty much can pass as a dark looking white girl with a funny wide nose, and my boyfriend is white, my kid is going to grow up as a white person. Not the kind quasi-white person I grew up being (the kind of white person whose mom tells them, "If you tell them you're white, they'll treat you better, so it's best to just say you're white" but at home we do things different kind of white) but the kind of white person my boyfriend grew up being, the kind that is taught to think of their whiteness as no race.

I don't know what we're going to teach the baby. If race and biculturalism have complicated my life, well, I'm still happy with the person I am, even if sometimes I feel like my outsides don't quite match my insides. And I also feel weird being like, "Well, you're almost all white, so just be white, baby." I feel like I'd be betraying my culture, the way I was raised, my mother and so many things I am proud of about myself. I guess I still am working out a lot of identity issues for myself, but this is more complicated than labels, even though when I talk about it, it just sounds like labels.

So I'd like to hear thoughts of this, especially from other mothers of color or mixed race / bicultural mamas who have dealt with similar questions of identity and raising a baby who's more mixed / more white than they are.

*Which, speaking of labels... incidentally, depressingly, hilariously... I was at the hospital doing paperwork the social worker told me I could only pick one race to ID myself...and that I had to pick something or she'd pick for me...so I said fine, then put Asian. Because I honor the person who raised me. And then she marked down baby as Asian too. And I said, but my boyfriend is white. So by percentage that baby is mostly white too. But she said, no, the race of the baby follows the mother. So I was like, whatever, I don't care. Man it's 2009 and this is just nutty.

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#2 of 16 Old 05-28-2009, 08:59 PM
 
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HI! I am a white mother and I have three beuatiful mixed children. they are half black. And I wouldnt have it any different! They are my angels and thats what makes them so wonderful and special in this world! They are flawless and beautiful and they are healthy! I want to see them have the best life ever in this world and that is all that matters! I didnt fall in a love with a black man on the determination of what my children will be like. They were all gifts from God to me more than I could have ever dreamed of!

I don't care if they are green, blue, yellow, or purple, they are my little angels sent to me in the form and colors they came in and I am happy no matter what! I believe that they have much to live for just like any other baby on this planet. Babies should all have the same chance at life. They all came from the womb of thier mothers, they all have family with different features and backgrounds and cultures and colors and experiences to learn from and everything in the mix with any race or culture, or color or indifference makes them even the more wonderful.
Color and culture should not be an issue when it comes to having a child. I think as long as you raise that child to grow up and live a blessed life and make the best of it with all different types of influences they will run into in THIER lifetime, than you are doing the best you can do as a parent! That should be all that matters!
If you have a certain culture or belief you want your child to consume... teach them those values and special things in life that members of your family share but remember we are all human beings and everyone makes their own life what it is, so just raise your children with no prejudice or care in the world for the differences, because diffences are what make people real and whole. And it is how we all come together as one and learn and grow from each others differences! If noone was different what would we learn? How would we love?
So far I think you are doing a wonderful job caring so deeply about how you will raise you child. But just remember that a parent is a starting mold, and a child is expected to learn from that mold and change into thier own mold and follow thier hearts and have the most fullfilling life possible regarless of thier, race, color, sex, cuture or anything! It is up to them when they are capable to follow thier hearts and make connections with all the different types of people and things, and cultures and love, and colors in life so that they can consume it all and enjoy all of the wondrful things life has to offer!

Good luck to your little ones!

BTW, After writing this reply, it reminded me to appreciate life so much more! Please, if this is sorta heartfelt, Im dealing with postpartum depression myself, and writing this post helps me deal as well with my own issues. so this is my positive note for today that reminds me everyday that Life is worth it all! So please know this is only my opionion and my beliefs and my children are my inspiration!
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#3 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 01:35 AM
 
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Hi, we sort of have a different issue, but in some ways the same. My DH is Indian and I'm a "white" Australian. Our boys look just like "white" Aussies with slightly olive skin, no-one ever guesses that they have an Indian father and when told or they see him with us can be really surprised. As they are growing up in Australia and getting full exposure to my culture here, we try to put a lot of emphasis on their Indian heritage to balance it. It's hard though as due to their looks they are never considered Indian within the Indian community. DH works a lot so I often take them along to Indian festivals and events alone, and people just look at us as Aussies who know nothing about Indian culture. Every time we go into and Indian grocery store everyone except the owner who knows us by now looks at us in surprise as if to say "what are THEY doing in here?" We are trying really hard for them to be bilingual so they dont feel completely seperate from their Indian culture as at least they will be able to communicate with family and friends when we visit.

Anyway, just wanted to say I understand the difficulties in raising children in a culture when they dont appear to others to belong to it. It is very important for my DH that the children identify with their Indian culture as it is where he has come from and a huge part of who he is. It is a beautiful and rich culture that we want them to be proud of and feel a connection to all the past generations of their family.

Regardless of your child's looks, Korean culture is a part of who they are as it's a part of their heritage and an important part of who their mother is, so teach them everything that is important to you.
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#4 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 02:45 PM
 
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Interesting that race comes through the mother- so Obama really ISN'T the first black president? Who knew? That lady didn't know what she was talking about.

My daughter looks white- well, she is. Because technically Iranic peoples, regardless of color, are white. And I'm half-white, too. But from my mom's side. So she is 1/8 Indian (native), except that they burned the papers and did you know that you can't be Indian unless you have papers??? So 1/8th nothing, really :, 1/8th latina, 1/4 white, and then from a tiny ethnic minority (Iranic) from the former Soviet Union...

She looks white. Nose is a LITTLE big but nothing shocking. We will raise her as she is- with roots in many cultures.

Race is a social construct but your daughter is a living, breathing girl with roots in Korea. I say, raise her as Korean as you can.

It's not that the stay-at-home-parent gets to stay home with the kids. The kids get to stay home with a parent. Lucky Mom to DD1 (4 y) and DD2 (18 mo), Wife to Mercenary Dad
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#5 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 02:53 PM
 
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My sister is in the same position you'll be in.

We're half Japanese, half Caucasian. Her ex-dh (father of her children) is Caucasian. Her sons are pale skinned, blue eyed, red heads.

They both have Japanese middle names, and are exposed to Japanese culture through my mom's side of the family.

If it makes you feel any better though, my kids are 3/4 Japanese, yet only one of them looks Asian (my dd).
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#6 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 04:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by cyclamen View Post
I don't know what we're going to teach the baby. If race and biculturalism have complicated my life, well, I'm still happy with the person I am, even if sometimes I feel like my outsides don't quite match my insides. And I also feel weird being like, "Well, you're almost all white, so just be white, baby." I feel like I'd be betraying my culture, the way I was raised, my mother and so many things I am proud of about myself. I guess I still am working out a lot of identity issues for myself, but this is more complicated than labels, even though when I talk about it, it just sounds like labels.
Crashing this discussion forum here, but this caught my eye because one of my closest friends is Chinese/white (raised in the Quaker faith - his dad, ethnicially chinese, is a minister), and he had his sons with a caucasian woman, so they are the same proportion Chinese that your daughter is Korean.

I think they negotiated this question of retaining their unique family cultural traditions really well (their boys are 10 and 7 right now). They look white (brown hair, blue eyes), but their last name is Chen. My friend said he loves that little 'surprise' in their names and faces not quite matching up. They have Chinese names as well as American names, and my friend picked the characters and the sounds and really thought about the meanings he wanted to convey with their names. They do a lot of Chinese cooking together, have an annual Chinese New Year party, go to the granddad's church, go fishing, visit regularly with my friend's dad's relatives who are spread out from Singapore to mainland China to the Philippines to Seattle.

Can I put in a plug here to TEACH YOUR CHILD KOREAN! Another friend of mine is 1/2 Japanese, but her dad wouldn't teach her Japanese because she 'would speak like a man, and you CANNOT speak like a man to our Japanese relatives.' She is sad that she can't communicate with her Japanese relatives much beyond the level of a 5 year old child. Language is such a beautiful, intimate way to understand a culture. You get the jokes and the humor, there are worldviews embedded in language (like in Chinese, you go up or down in time, not forward/backward), and it lets you communicate with people inhabiting that larger culture, read newspapers, poetry, and literature, watch movies or even soap operas. I think it's one of the strongest bridges you can build for your child, and it will give her a foothold if she ever wants to go live, study, or work in Korea to really immerse him/herself in that part of your heritage. Even if your Korean is so-so, can you work out a deal with your mom where she only speaks Korean to you and the baby for awhile? OPOL (one parent one language) is the best way to develop bilingually, but even a regularly seen grandparent coupled with classes and radio/TV/internet media would be a great way to give the baby a good foundation in Korean.

Doula, WOHM, wife to a super-fun papa, mama to the Monkey ('07), and his little brother, the Sea Monkey ('09).
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#7 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 04:04 PM
 
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My mother is white and my father is either Middle Eastern of African American (sadly my mom was with multiple partners so I don't know that part of me). My husband is of Eastern European decent so he is white but with more of an olive complexion with dark eyes and hair. Anywho to our surprise our eldest daughter looks like my mother's side of the family- very pale, blond hair, and blue eyes. Knock us over with a feather!

Neither DH and I were raised with our culture. It saddens us but there is just no getting around it. However with our oldest DD it has come to my mind a lot. No one is going to believe that she is 1/4 AA or ME. This may seem like no big deal to some people but I know what it feels like to be different than your family in looks and to also be told you are obviously *this* race/culture and not your own- thus not being accepted. I also wonder what sorts of things she is going to get to hear as a "white girl". It seems that when you are white people assume you are inline with their prejudices. DH gets hit with racist jokes and slander all the time from people who think because he is white he has a white wife and children and agrees with their bigotry . I wonder if she will ever hear slander like this and take it personally where others might not realize it is personal for her. Does that make any sense at all?

Maggie, blissfully married mama of 5 little ladies on my own little path. homeschool.gif gd.gifRainbow.gif
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#8 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 04:08 PM
 
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One of my best friends is half japanese, half white and she has a white husband. It is very similar to your situation. Her first 2 children look white with just the most curious tilt to their eyes - very attactive children. Her third child is as japanese looking as you can get, a shock of jet black hair that stands on end, the olive skin, the small, slight build, you would not believe he had a white father and half white mother. Genetics is like that, you just never know which genes will kick in!

Katherine, SAHM to 2 little princes
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#9 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 07:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
I know what it feels like to be different than your family in looks and to also be told you are obviously *this* race/culture and not your own- thus not being accepted. I also wonder what sorts of things she is going to get to hear as a "white girl". It seems that when you are white people assume you are inline with their prejudices. DH gets hit with racist jokes and slander all the time from people who think because he is white he has a white wife and children and agrees with their bigotry . I wonder if she will ever hear slander like this and take it personally where others might not realize it is personal for her. Does that make any sense at all?
It's something like this that I worry the most about. I worry about how the way that people perceive you shapes the way that you perceive yourself.

I also worry that my baby will grow up to share those prejudices sometimes... but reading your response has actually helped me see that's unlikely because, for instance, it's kind of not possible for me to teach my baby that "white" is the same as "no race," etc. My experience of identity, of Koreanness and whiteness, is very conscious. Can't help it. I think it's common for mixed kids to be that way because it's thrown in your face from a young age and it becomes part of you to be conscious of what you are and are not.

My big fear when writing this post... was to be alienated from my child as he or she grows by this structure of race, that try as any of us might, none of us can escape. The possibility of raising an unselfconsciously white child is frightening to me because he or she wouldn't understand certain things that affect how I and millions of others negotiate the world every day. I don't know if that makes any sense at all, but I wondered... would life be easier for him or her if I let that happen, tried hard to erase my strange edges? Likely. But we all want our children to be like us, to be comprehensible to us. Inevitably, they are not always comprehensible to us - age, generation, culture, immigration.... all these things result in gap. I guess I am anticipating that gap from a long way off.

Korean attitudes have also changed since I was a child. Back then, if you were mixed, you weren't considered Korean at all. I've been told my whole life, "There are no mixed Koreans" and believed it. For a long time, I didn't know how to think of myself and said, "Well, I am American," but then I wouldn't understand all sorts of American things and I didn't know why I couldn't understand them. I couldn't put a name to it. Once I finally did, navigating the two cultures became a lot easier for me.

It's not that I'm torn about raising my baby in my culture (which is neither Korean nor American, but both and something else) - I don't really know any other way to be a parent - but I know it's going to be harder in some ways than it would be if I could be totally "American" (which is specious anyhow... what does that word even mean? It means so many different things for different people, even as it did for our family... we are Americans, too). It was hard for my mom raising me and my brother, and it's only recently that I've been able to accept and fully appreciate the struggle my mom had bringing us up.

We will be teaching baby Korean. I go to saturday school right now to improve my skills, which are still dismal, but slowly improving (I can have brief exchanges over the phone and my mom says my accent has gotten much better) and we hope to be living around my mom at some point soon, so she can speak just Korean to the baby. My boyfriend is even trying to learn to speak some Korean, and he's pretty quick at it considering I grew up hearing Korean my whole life and he never did.

DD1 6/2009 DD2 5/1/2013-5/5/2013 (HIE) DS 3/2014
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#10 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 07:50 PM
 
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Found this through new posts. I rarely post here.

I am part Hispanic, part Apache, part Inca and part French on my mom's side. Spanish is her first language, English was her second language. She is considered Hispanic and her cultural roots are Hispanic.

My dad is English, Welsh, Scottish and French. I think that is it.

I married a guy who is 1/2 German ( his dad is only German) and his mom is Norweigian, Swedish, English, Scotch-Irish and Portuguese.

I have olive skin, hazel eyes...my boys both have blue eyes and light brown hair. They were both blonde as babies. I had blonde babies. You have no idea what a shock that was to me.

Anyway, when it is time to fill out those boxes, it was complicated for me, even more complicated for them...and has sometimes made me cry. I am pretty sure my younger son is going to choose from now on to just put caucasian in the box as trying to mark all the boxes confuses everyone and him I think. There was a bit of a drama when ds#1 DID fill in all the boxes and ended up with a minority scholarship that the school did not want him to refuse. He tried. It was a mess.

My mom did not teach my brother and I how to speak Spanish. What we have from her culture...a tortilla recipe. I am serious. That is it. I had nothing to pass on to my children.

I really wish they just had a box that said "Mixed Race."

Even that leaves me feeling odd.

To further complicate things, my brother identifies as anglo. I have always identified as Hispanic though I don't speak the language and am not culturally Hispanic.

My brother has blue-hazel eyes and light brown hair and fair skin.

I have green/brown-hazel eyes, dark hair and olive skin.

Just wanted to let you know I think I know what you are going through some, but maybe not fully as I have no deep cultural roots.

This is a touchy subject for me.

s for you.

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle." -Plato
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#11 of 16 Old 05-29-2009, 08:06 PM
 
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I can't speak to this, but there is a good essay in the current issue of Hip Mama about this very topic. I think you would really relate.
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#12 of 16 Old 05-30-2009, 10:41 AM
 
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raise your baby for the person you want him/her to be. not what his/her/ your skin color tells ignorant people who or what you and your baby are "supposed" to be, in their eyes. your love and wisdom from all cultures involved in your family will be all he/she needs to be the person you hope for them to be.
peace mama.
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#13 of 16 Old 05-30-2009, 03:14 PM
 
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I'm a British/Polish mix and my husband is Vietnamese; our daughter very much takes after daddy, so much so I get approached by people wondering if I adopted her from China.

OP, I really appreciate hearing your insights on being raised mixed-race, as it helps me reflect on what our dd is going through. The way we have approached the race issue has been to proudly proclaim her a "mutt", and I think that is the identity she embraces. She understood about genetics early on, and understands that mutts are generally healthier than purebreds . She understands that her darker skin gives her superior protection against the sun than her lily-white friends who burn easily. She understands that she is in the unique position of being able to access the best from two cultures and languages rather than just one.

So I guess our approach has been to avoid the whole issue of her having to choose between identifying with mom or dad's race by having her embrace the identity of mixed-race. I recognize, however, that where you live plays a big role in how easy it is to do this. In our state, for example, we can check as many boxes as we like on those forms that ask for race, we aren't required to choose just one. When she was littler we lived in a very cosmopolitan area (there were 4 amerasian children in her preschool of about 18 kids) so it was pretty easy. Since then, we have lived in Vietnam (very homogeneous Asian) and now in a small town (very homogeneous white) and it has definitely been harder for her. She does complain of feeling like she doesn't get what the other kids are talking about or playing, or feeling left out when they talk about God because we are Buddhist. So I think that your hunch that your ethnicity will make life a little more challenging for your child are true. But there are always challenges, you know? I truly believe that if you raise your children to be proud of who they are -- and you know that mixed-race is the fastest growing ethnic group, right? -- that they will never feel estranged from you.
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#14 of 16 Old 05-30-2009, 10:45 PM
 
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I am mixed - My dad is Peruvian, my mom is a white mutt - LOL. I am extremely fair-skinned. My dad never taught me spanish and I am sad about that, but he faced the stigmas you are talking about.

Share whatever you can about the culture, and make it fun and cool and unique, not mandatory, YKIM? I thought it was so cool when I could take traditional inca art into class with me for show and tell and no one had ever seen it before.

Actually my hardest part to fit in was with the other latinas that are darker and speak better spanish and know more about their culture. So in that way, I wish I had more exposure. But every form I self identified as hispanic becuase I am at least 50% hispanic.

I married a white man - irish and french-canadian - My internal struggle was that to give up my maiden name, I would be giving up the only trace of hispanic I had to hold onto - becuase I never felt like I looked hispanic enough. When we had our son, I gave him a family name from my dad in his middle name to honor his heritage. And I gave him a first name that would blend into both hispanic and "white" conversations.

GL - I think that the biggest thing is to not worry about what anyone says, and instill in your child the best sense of uniqueness, specialness, and joy of his/her background that you can.

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#15 of 16 Old 06-06-2009, 10:22 PM
 
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Found this through new posts. I rarely post here.

I am part Hispanic, part Apache, part Inca and part French on my mom's side. Spanish is her first language, English was her second language. She is considered Hispanic and her cultural roots are Hispanic.

My dad is English, Welsh, Scottish and French. I think that is it.

I married a guy who is 1/2 German ( his dad is only German) and his mom is Norweigian, Swedish, English, Scotch-Irish and Portuguese.

I have olive skin, hazel eyes...my boys both have blue eyes and light brown hair. They were both blonde as babies. I had blonde babies. You have no idea what a shock that was to me.

Anyway, when it is time to fill out those boxes, it was complicated for me, even more complicated for them...and has sometimes made me cry. I am pretty sure my younger son is going to choose from now on to just put caucasian in the box as trying to mark all the boxes confuses everyone and him I think. There was a bit of a drama when ds#1 DID fill in all the boxes and ended up with a minority scholarship that the school did not want him to refuse. He tried. It was a mess.

My mom did not teach my brother and I how to speak Spanish. What we have from her culture...a tortilla recipe. I am serious. That is it. I had nothing to pass on to my children.

I really wish they just had a box that said "Mixed Race."

Even that leaves me feeling odd.

To further complicate things, my brother identifies as anglo. I have always identified as Hispanic though I don't speak the language and am not culturally Hispanic.

My brother has blue-hazel eyes and light brown hair and fair skin.

I have green/brown-hazel eyes, dark hair and olive skin.

Just wanted to let you know I think I know what you are going through some, but maybe not fully as I have no deep cultural roots.

This is a touchy subject for me.

s for you.
That is an interesting experience. Being AA and half German, I have always lived as AA. However, the AA race in this country is already a "mixed race". They have always been accepting of racial mixture, however, many other cultures are not accepting. If there is a "mixed race" category most if not all people should be considered that.

In many Hispanic countries (i.e. Puerto Rico which I realize is now a state in the US) race is not really identified but they are a national identity and are often mixed with many races already. Unless someone told me they were from a certain Hispanic nation I would not assume where they are from because many people from that country look different....they are not homogenous.

If there is a "mixed race" category I feel that would still divide people not blend them. I understand in Brazil there are strict categories of whites vs other races and there protocols decided on who is who due to the diversty in that country. It also reminds me of apartheid in South Africa where they divide people by skin color, hair texture and the like to separate and control the blacks and keep the whites at priveledge status. It is a very confusing and oppressive system. Also the caste system in India worked in a similar way. We have to be careful what we wish for because it can be misused.

Intentions to have a level of acceptance seems good but it can be twisted in the end.
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#16 of 16 Old 06-06-2009, 10:25 PM
 
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raise your baby for the person you want him/her to be. not what his/her/ your skin color tells ignorant people who or what you and your baby are "supposed" to be, in their eyes. your love and wisdom from all cultures involved in your family will be all he/she needs to be the person you hope for them to be.
peace mama.
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