Cherry Vasquez and Family
As a multiracial family – Roy, Kelly and I just live our lives. Though we realize we’re a multiracial family, it’s never pointed out. We’ve never really had to deal with issues until it was time for Kelly to begin elementary school. As parents, we dreaded each year having to fill out the ‘first day of school’ forms. In these instances, we almost always selected Roy’s race on paper which is White because it’s noted on his birth certificate (something I’ll never understand except for his apparent skin hue at birth). But, since he is Kelly’s dad, I respected his choice. Once Kelly graduated toward Middle school, she wouldn’t have it! No one, regardless of authority, would ever identify for her again. It was now her right. Kelly began to write Biracial in the spot labeled ‘Other’, and then she selected Hispanic as her Ethnic group, but African American as her race. She says that doing this allows her to point out both heritages. By the way, I never liked the word ‘Other’ because I never looked at our child as an ‘Other’.

As a mom who is present on social media platforms, I knew the importance of shaping our daughter’s world around high self-esteem. I always taught her the importance of embracing both her heritages. My ideology stemmed from listening to biracial celebrities explaining how they dealt with, and felt about identity issues. Some shared how mentally draining it was never knowing which ethnic/racial groups would accept them, if at all. They often shared how confused, and the sense of loneliness they endured. Knowing this, I vowed that my interactions with our daughter would focus on her experiencing a balanced life loving all of who she is – her total self. To date, our daughter only identifies as biracial. She is adamant about not solely identifying as Hispanic or African American. Just recently Kelly informed us that she’s okay with using the word mixed (in a more relaxed setting), but always biracial (in professional settings). I’ve never advocated for the use of words such as mixed, swirl or mutt (as non-canine dogs are often called). Kelly will be 19 years old in three short months, so now she takes the lead.

During Multiracial Heritage Week, and throughout the years, I search for Instagram posts featuring multiracial family unions. I’m often disappointed when I read posts where moms refer to, or identify their biracial/multiracial children as one race. I’ve especially noticed that whenever I read these posts, oftentimes, one parent is black, therefore their children are told they’re black. In these instances, I do my best carefully thinking through the right words to use before leaving my comments, being sure to compliment the parents on their children, or their posts, and then I inform them that I’m a mom of a biracial child who solely identifies as biracial person in wholesome healthy ways, and I share my reasoning. I’m also certain to introduce the Project RACE link in hopes that they’ll take a closer look and understand the importance of lifting up, and esteeming their biracial child’s race.

Because of the current racial tensions surrounding the death of George Floyd, many parents are going LIVE on FB and/or writing posts on social networks – lovingly advocating for their ‘black’ children (who are clearly biracial). While I admire parents advocating for their children’s rights, I feel this one-race ideology is not fair to biracial children, and will ‘play into’ low self-esteem issues while damaging the outlook of their biracial children’s true identities.  In addition, I feel strongly that due to these scenarios, the fight for race status on behalf of biracial people is an ongoing, uphill battle.

It is so important for biracial children to have their rightful identities. They are not one race over the other. They are indeed biracial/multiracial and can be taught to own their total self.

Cherry Vasquez