Several years ago, I heard about the anti-bullying work of Dr. Cherrye S. Vasquez, and was quite impressed. After many discussions, I asked her to be on the advisory board for Project RACE. She is a retired public school administrator and an adjunct professor. Her credentials and broad qualifications are too numerous to mention here, but all you need to do is read her books and research promoting diversity and anti-bullying dispute resolution to fully realize how important her work is. Cherrye addresses the concerns of children, teens, parents, and educators. She is their national voice and an expert in many vital areas of education. She has taken one of my questions and turned it into an insightful blog post. You can read it below or on her blog at http://www.blog.cherryesbooksthatsow.com/
Dear Dr. Cherrye,
Biracial children often get bullied more than single-race kids. How can we, as adults, help them better understand how to best handle racial and ethnic bullying?
Thank you for raising this important question. As we know, bullying is growing daily, but children who are multiracial seemingly get picked on a bit more depending on the racial make-up of the school they’re enrolled.
Of course there are differing variables that attribute to the bullying of children who comprise the multiracial race, but it appears that the variables that I’ve observed and researched fall into one of two categories and both has to do with parenting support, self-esteem, empowerment and affirmation.
First Things First
Before we can help children deal with racial and ethnic bullying, we must first work on our children’s psyche (their soul, mind, and spirit) from the inside, then outwardly. When a child feels good about him/herself, has learned the importance of self-identity, and has supporting loving parents, bullying is lessened.
When a child is empowered and carries him/herself like the kings and queens they are, bullies will have a difficult time breaking their spirits.
The Interracial Parents
If parents have done their homework, multiracial children will feel secure and bold enough not to assimilate into one race over another. It is up to the multiracial child to identify solely as biracial while acknowledging their total racial make-up. Parents should instill confidence in their children while empowering them. Parents can do this by using positive affirmations, and self-fulfilling prophecy techniques as they build upon their children’s strength.
The Home Environment
In a loving, functional home setting, multiracial children really do have the best of two worlds. This is not to say that single-race children don’t have a great world, but the multiracial child has two races all balled-up into one. In addition, multiracial children have the advantage, pleasure and honor of not choosing one race, but a combination of two, or more. Some children may choose one race over the other, or at times multiracial children vacillate between both or all of their races. Just long as they are the ones choosing the race, they’re most comfortable with, it’s no one’s business.
My hope, however, is for the multiracial child to identify honestly and openly that they’re indeed multiracial and nothing more, or less. This is how I’ve raised my own biracial child. She does not refer to herself as Hispanic or Black, but Biracial.
The home of interracial couples raising multiracial children should be loving and inviting. Racial slurs about other races should not be uttered. All races of people should be respected. The home should be filled with artifacts and photos depicting both, or all races. When parents do this, children feel whole, relaxed and confident.
Second Things Second
Bullies will attempt to break the multiracial child. The bully will come in the disguise of school peers and adults (so-called friends of the parents, teachers, and sometimes family members). Family members may not intend to skew the empowerment and work that interracial parents attempt to shower on their multiracial children, but they sometimes step outside their boundaries – they mean well, but please butt-out.
So-called friends and bullies will want to remind parents (especially the minority parent) that their multiracial children are people-of-color, and the Census Bureau still makes multiracial people ‘check all that apply’ instead of giving them their own racial category. These types will also remind interracial parents of the one-drop rule, but parents need to stand firm in their conviction, intelligence, and their child’s right to self-identify as multiracial. After all, it is the truth. The child is not one single-race. Let’s face it!
When the bully arrives on the scene, it will be very difficult for him/her to ‘get next to‘ or irritate the multiracial child. By now, the multiracial child should pity the bully, consider the source (home environment, low self-esteem, jealousy, and more), and find better ways to spend their time. The multiracial child is armored with high self-esteem, empowerment, deep-seated self-confidence, talents, and has been trained to skillfully side-step the bully, and any antiquated, unlearned adult who has issues accepting the life and beauty of the multiracial child and his/her interracial family make-up.
Thank you, Susan Graham!
I want to take this time to personally thank you for this question, Susan. As one of the Advisory Board Members of Project Race and as the mother of a multiracial child, this topic/question has been important to me over the years. I want to take this time to introduce you to my blog-reading audience.
Author, Susan Graham, is the Director of Project Race which is an organization that advocates for multiracial children, multiracial adults and their families primarily through multiracial education and community awareness.
Susan has recently written a book entitled: Born Biracial: How One Mother Took on Race in America. I’ve read Susan’s book, and I want to encourage my readers to get a copy of it, too. You will walk away feeling inspired and motivated to the cause.
If you are a parent of a multiracial child, or if you know someone who is, I’d like to also invite you to get involve with Project Race. To learn more about the mission and work of Project Race please visit the website.
Multiracial Heritage Week is June 07-14, 2019