Yes, I'm a Black Dad with Multiracial Children. Enough of the Dumb Questions.

July 7th 2017

Doyin Richards

I get a lot of dumb questions when it comes to race, such as, "What's harder, being a black man or a black dad?" Um...bruh, that's like asking if it takes longer for me to walk to the supermarket instead of driving there. Obviously the difficulty level increases the moment a person is responsible for raising tiny humans, no matter what the color of your skin is. But I will say that the questions I've heard now that I'm a dad to multiracial children are some of the most bizarre I've ever heard. 

First off, my wife is half-Japanese, half-white. So that makes my daughters 50% black, 25% Japanese, and 25% white. Multiracial babies in America have increased from 1% in 1970 to 10% in 2013 and that trend is increasing with no signs of slowing down. Sure, it's a great feeling knowing that my daughters are a part of a nation that is becoming more diverse by the day, but that doesn't mean that people are becoming less ignorant in the process. And yes, I receive my share of overtly racist comments — but I'm not here for that. Instead I want to talk about microaggressions, which, put differently, are comments that aren't meant to be hurtful, but usually are. For example:

"You look great for your age."

"Japanese, Chinese — whatever. You know what I mean."

"No offense, but you dance really well for a big girl."

As a black man, I thought I would've heard it all before — but boy, was I wrong. Here are just a sample of things I've been asked since I became a dad:

Doyin and his daughter enjoying a moment

1. "Are you going to raise your kids to be black or white?" To this day, I have no idea what that means. Does raising my kids to be black mean that they'll be good at basketball and rapping, but crappy at school? Does raising them to be white mean that they'll be successful students with boring personalities and zero athleticism? Yes, I know those stereotypes are ridiculous, but we need to shine a light on them in order to expose them for what they are. I'm going to raise them to be compassionate human beings, and at last check, compassion doesn't have a color attached to it. 

2. "Isn't it strange that your kids look nothing like you?" Translated to mean, "Isn't it weird that your kids have lighter skin than yours?" Um, no. Not at all. But for some reason it's weird to the people who ask me. I wonder if it was weird for them in kindergarten when they mixed yellow and blue to make green. Thankfully, my kids don't think anything of it, and that's really the way it should be. 

3. "It's a nasty world out there. Why would you make life more difficult for your kids?" Usually this comes from older generations who believe that life for multiracial kids is more difficult than kids of a single race. Tangentially, the same people probably believe that kids raised by same-sex couples are at a disadvantage, even though science says otherwise. But according to the Pew Research Center, multiracial children turn into pretty confident adults as 60% of them are proud of their mixed-race background and are more open-minded about other cultures due their racial background. I know it's too early to tell for certain, but based on their behavior now, I like my kids' chances of being accepting of all races and ethnicities when they become adults.

At the end of the day, we need to be really careful about what we say in front of our kids. Sure, they may not seem to be listening when we tell them 1,356 times in an hour to stop jumping on the bed, but they are really good at picking up cues that we don't even know that we're giving. So, please — for the sake of my kids, your kids, and my personal sanity, please keep the dumb racial questions to yourselves. Being a parent is hard enough without having to dodge the unnecessary land mines.