A friend stopped by because he is missing his children who are with their mom in Wisconsin as she has entered a writing program there. He wanted to take Tin to see the electric trains at City Park. We spoke about his kids and the question of race and how they handle it. He said his wife, who is African American, handles all of it deftly and that he backs up whatever she is doing. Her oldest daughter is a mix of African American and Asian, while their two boys are biracial.
We agreed race is a family conversation, needed in our household, and sorely lacking at too many families’ dinner tables. How is identity formed: My friend’s mother in law had once told me that every African American child should go to an African American college. Another friend is fighting to save her high school (Xavier Prep) and told me it’s important to her because, “This is where I learned how to be black.” I grew up where kids like me were sent on pilgrimages to Israel to know our roots. I remember I asked a father about his son, does being Jewish mean something to him, and he responded, “He knows who he is” – meaning his identity is hard wired.
How do we hard wire identity into our children of mixed races – of transraces – and still keep them flexible and agile as their self and world view grows.
But I digress, Tin of course was thrilled with the trains, and he and our friend got to run around like two little boys in a toy store following each train round and round the various tracks and stations. When he left, he said to call on him if we needed help with Tin.
Finding men as role models for our son has been not as widely available as we had hoped, so we are especially grateful when they invite themselves in and make themselves at home. Finding role models of biracial families, or transracial adoptions, of families that don’t match the norm are critical.