When people see my biracial children, it comes as a surprise that they are mine. But how can society create a space where all children feel safe and comfortable being who they are? The weight falls on the parents a lot of times. Not only do we have to raise them to become productive citizens, we also have to teach them how the world will perceive them. Why do we have to teach them how to be in society rather than just being themselves? I mean, we say it’s good enough—but is it?

My husband (who is white) and I (who am Black) share similar views on cultural acceptance, however, there are things that he will never understand. Sadly, in this world, he will never understand what his very own son will or even has endured. The racial climate of our society creates the responsibility for me to teach my children how the world perceives them: Black. It doesn’t matter that their dad is white, but it matters that their mom is Black. So when will we learn to just treat children as children despite their cultural make-up? My son doesn’t have a Black man (since my brother passed) to show him how to navigate this world as a Black man. The privileges that are afforded his dad will not be afforded to him, so can he ever solely rely on just being himself throughout life?

Related: I’m biracial and grew up in a ‘color-blind’ family 

Being a mom to biracial children brings out a personality in me that I never really knew I had. I find myself being a mama bear more than anything. Particularly when my son was two and we were out at a restaurant eating with my brother and my oldest daughter (our youngest wasn’t around yet). As we were eating and talking, my brother saw that my son had to use the restroom. At this time, my husband was an over-the-road truck driver and my brother stepped up and stepped in assisting me with my children.

My son was going through the potty training phase and my brother was the only one I felt comfortable with teaching him as a man. When they came back from the restroom, I noticed a man (a white man) looking at his phone and at me. Thankfully in that moment, my son ran to me calling me, ”Mom”. The man proceeded to tell me, “I was going to call the police because I thought you kidnapped those children.”

I told my children to hold their heads up high and we exited the facility with our dignity intact.

I was so embarrassed and hurt because this statement was made loud and clear in the restaurant, causing the patrons to stare at us. As I stood there, holding back tears, my brother told the man, “These two came out of my sister’s uterus so, yes, they are her children. Do you want to see the video of their birth?”

I chuckled, but then I began to think about my children—how can I protect them from the ignorance of the world? As we proceeded to leave the restaurant, I bluntly stated, “We live in a world of multicultural people. Deal with it.”

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I felt vindicated as I saw how small his face became sitting there trying to enjoy the remainder of his meal. I told my children to hold their heads up high and we exited the facility with our dignity intact.

Not only does this happen among white people, but Black people too. A few weeks later, my daughter, my son and I were at a park when a Black dad and his son observed my children. He thought, when he finally shared with me, that my children where there alone because it didn’t “look” like anyone was there that could have been their parent. His son proceeded to pick my son up and carry him to his dad. My son was kicking and screaming, which caused everyone to look, as my daughter ran behind shouting, “Put my brother down!”

I turned to see what the commotion was. I saw the little Black boy holding my son turn and tell my daughter to ”shut up”, so I proceeded to tell the child carrying my son, “I am their mom. They are not alone and I can see them from this pavilion that I am sitting under. Now please put him down.”

The dad began to state, “I got my son.” I told him to please don’t allow his son to touch my son or talk to my daughter like that. Then I told him, as I comforted my children, “Yes. Their mom looks like me.”

As my children continue to grow, I hear a lot of people in the Black community state things like, “Your children are so white.” Then when we are around the white community, we hear things like, “Are you the nanny?” These are things that my children have to witness and accept. But why? Why can’t just being who we are be enough? When will it be enough?

Related: As a mother of biracial children, I get asked the same questions over and over again 

Honestly, I don’t know if there will ever be a resolution to something like this, but as a Black mom, I think it would be irresponsible of me not to inform my children that they are biracial/multi-cultural and that the privileges afforded their father are not afforded to them. I even have to share with them that the things that their classmates do that they can’t is because of their cultural make-up.

As a prospective educator, I notice how my children are treated differently than both Black and white students. It’s like they have their own classification. They may have treatment that is harsh because they are biracial. For instance, I receive a lot more phone calls about my son’s distractions in class as opposed to his cousins on my side. My cousin’s children act the same way that my son acts, but the school resorts to calling law enforcement. My husband’s cousins act the same way as my son, and they don’t even receive a phone call about their behaviors. The treatment is right in the middle; he’s too handsome to interact with law enforcement but his behavior is disruptive enough to have parent phone calls.

So, where is the balance for my children just being themselves? I hope I am teaching my heartbeats that.