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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?

Dear Susan,

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!

The Bully

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!

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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

Important

I’ve made it my mission to assist parents in resolving the bullying issues their children are suffering. Offering your feedback and suggestions in the comment section could facilitate meaningful dialog on this critical issue among ourselves and I encourage this. I will respond to each comment in a timely way. Should you wish to speak privately with me, please email be at CherryeVasquez@gmail.com, and I will reply promptly.

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2 thoughts on “Biracial Children and Bullying

  1. Linda Hales says:

    I so appreciate you Dr.Cherrye. It is always a great learning experience and a breath of fresh air to read your advice and invariably, you validate it with the proof of your beautiful daughter, Kelly, quite possibly the most well adjusted bi-racial young woman possible, because she knows exactly who she is, is becoming a great achiever in her young life and is already realizing her dreams. She could well be the poster child of the kind of parenting you are advocating in your blog.

    So, at the end of the day, I’m left wondering, who among us is purely a single race and how shallow are we to even care? That is a question we could all contemplate. Most often, a racial blending occurs in this generation or generations past, though most are not aware of it. My DNA reveals that yes, though I am a healthy percentage UK, European and Irish racial descents, I am also proudly 17% native indian and I feel richer for being so, though why should it matter? It is our commonality that unites us while our heritage and cultural differences make us all richer. To many, it seems to come down to the ‘visibility’ of the bi or multi-racial child that a bully will target, as though this visibility threatens the security of the bully because to him/her there is a difference that clearly makes them uncomfortable. The bully chooses to empower him/herself with the false notion of being better, or more than, while the underlying motivation is all too often, insecurity or a lack of self-identification. Well balanced parenting would ensure that these insecurities in their children are identified and dealt with effectively, and not induced by their own pre-conceptions of differences, be it race or other reasons. We owe it to our children and cheat them of the ability to become well adjusted adults, when we perpetrate our own stereotypical attitudes upon them. Our differences make us richer and more interesting while our sameness is boring because then there would not be a need to step outside of our comfort zones to enjoy a richer experience.

    So, it all boils down to our perceived differences, whether learned or misunderstood and a first-rate sensitivity course might be a solution. Such a professional sensitivity trainer might rotate among schools in a community and teach from the youngest to the oldest, the age appropriate awareness lessons. I would suggest that this training be held in a mixed group setting, preferably in the gymnasium or auditorium to assemble and encourage students to speak to their issues – both the bullied and the bully. Group awareness would encourage peer support because as a majority, there is safety in numbers and no bully can take them all on and will not likely isolate him/herself to be outside of the group. Perhaps that suggestion seems naive but empathy does not come in equal measure and kids will always feel and actually be safer when they learn in groups from a professional who they respect.

    Thanks for giving us this forum to express ourselves on this highly sensitive topic. Our kids can only benefit from parents who care enough to meet here like this!

    1. Dr. Cherrye says:

      Thank you very much, Linda. I’ve tried my level best to encourage Kelly to love her identity. It was always important to me that she understood that she’s okay to choose her own identity, but it would be after she was served a healthy dose of learning about and loving both her heritages. Because we are both members of the biracial organization entitled: Project Race, Kelly’s photo has been highlighted in at least a couple of articles.

      Like you, I do not feel that any one of us can say that we are a single race. My paternal grandmother’s dad was of Indian descent. We don’t speak of it much due to the issue of single identity, but it’s true.

      It will be interesting to see Kelly’s children and the various shades they will bring due to our racial background and hue, and then again, her dad’s ethnic background (with a grandfather who is indeed white). His mom’s biological dad was German. Grandchildren in my home would be a flurry of beautiful colors, and I’m sure personalities. I hope that I’m richly blessed one day.

      Thank you for stopping by as I truly appreciate your comments and added discourse on these important matters.

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