Dear Ms. HeartBeat:
I’m an African-American woman who has fallen totally in love with my Japanese American boyfriend. It is so serious that we are often talking about marriage. I never intended to fall in love with someone outside of my race. Therefore, I never really gave much thought about what I’d teach my mixed-race kids about race. But now that this situation is a reality I feel very confused. Not only are we two different ethnicities, my boyfriend is half Japanese and half White.
He likes to joke with me when we talk about it, and reminds me that my blood is not pure African (like many African Americans, we’ve got everything in my family and I am often asked if I’m part Asian anyway). But I feel that my culture is pure African-American . How am I supposed to instill racial confidence in part-Black, part- Japanese, part-White, part-Native American children? Thinking about all this gives me a headache.
Don’t Want Confused Kids
The only person who sounds confused around here is you. Here is a perfect opportunity to expose your children to many different cultures, languages and foods without ever leaving home. From my perspective your situation isn’t a headache, it’s an opportunity!
As a child I was always fascinated with Japanese culture and history, so I can totally relate to your interest in this fun-loving guy. He is correct about one thing for sure, and that is any African American with several generations of family born in the United States is ALREADY a mixture of ethnicities. We come in more than 400 different shades of brown, and can all point to bloodlines rich with Irish, various Native American tribes, French, Asian, French Canadian, Pacific Islander, Spanish, and who knows what else. Your children shouldn’t ever have to choose one race over the other while at home. Trust me, there will be plenty of people out in the world that want to pigeon-hole them into one box, but you and your husband don’t have to participate in the nonsense.
I suggest that you become comfortable with your background and share the rich history and heritage of African Americans and Japanese Americans with your babies. They may go through life considered to be light-skinned Black folks, or they may look more Asian. But I’m confident you will let them know how they came to be and make sure they know you and he are thrilled that in this big world, you found each other.
As for your boyfriend, enjoy yourself and trust that you’re making the right decision here. If the man is treating you right, he is all good in my book!