Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Multiracial in America

This little munchkin in the photo has a white father and black mother and is 100% cute. The number of kids like her is increasing in the United States

Anti-Racist Parent is an invaluable resource. I just found information on a series that MSNBC did on multiracial families in America that is definitely worth viewing. If you do take the time to watch it, I'd love to hear your thoughts especially if you are a member of a multiracial family. As I've mentioned before, I'm currently exploring the possibility of doing research on what (if any) effect religion has on so called 'interracial marriages'. A distinctive feature of the Baha'i Faith is that it explicitly encourages interracial marriages and the formation of multiracial families as a means of promoting the oneness of humankind. The son my wife and I are expecting in October will the first fruit of such a union.

"Colors are phenomenal, but the realities of men are essence. When there exists unity of the essence what power has the phenomenal? When the light of reality is shining what power has the darkness of the unreal? If it be possible, gather together these two races, black and white, into one Assembly, and put such love into their hearts that they shall not only unite but even intermarry. Be sure that the result of this will abolish differences and disputes between black and white. Moreover, by the Will of God, may it be so. This is a great service to humanity."
(Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'i World Faith - Abdu'l-Baha Section, p. 359)

Are you currently in an interracial marriage or a member of a multiracial family? Are you considering that possibility? I'd love to hear your thoughts and stories!


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Congratulations on the upcoming birth of your son! How wonderful...

    I saw parts of the MSNBC series on race and thought it was very interesting!

    I love your blog -- keep on bloggin on!

  2. Anonymous12:07 PM

    --I love the way you got the article started by described the child! Because everyone is a whole person; no one is "half" anything.

    It's hard to sum up my 38 years of (interracial) parenting, which have been the joy of my life.
    In general, I think studying in depth and continually applying laws and principles of the Faith as they pertain to parenting, in a very intimate and personal way, can make parenting a difficult, wonderful and amazing endeavor, and that it is a very fertile and crucial topic to explore.

    My views and comments are based on successes, failures, and everything in between -- my own and those families I've known -- where Black and White have married and produced children. I note that sometimes these changes take more than a generation to occur. I don't think one should be too hard on oneself if this is their situation, as long as sincere efforts were and are being made.
    The foundations:
    Choosing a mate: know thyself first, then become informed of the character of the other. Parental consent: It is conducive, I think, to the future stability of the family and the mental health of the children that this consent be whole-hearted.
    These foundations assume even more importance when you cross racial barriers. If they have not occurred, be honest about it, and explore what else can be utilized to strenghten the foundation.
    Then, in parenting: study, consult together, and put into action with heart and soul the guidance, admonitions, and exhortations of the Blessed Beauty and the Master, also the instructions of the Guardian and the House of Justice, making sure to bring to bear in all this the very best of your racial/cultural heritage --, meaning that which is accord with the Teachings, and only that --- in your consultatins with your spouse, your parenting and in your interactions with the wider world. Your children will amaze you and be a catalyst for change. You will become more acutely aware, by parenting with someone of a different background, of how many of your assumptions about parenting (and life!!) are based on your cultural/racial background, and are not "givens". This enables you to sort through and see which ones are valid for today and tomorrow, with the Writings always as your touchstone.

    It is in this manner, I think, and not by denying, overlooking or glossing over such differences in the backgrounds of the two parents, that one can optimize success. For example, taking to heart the admonitions of the Master to Black and White, as quoted in in your previous post, "Readiness to Forget the Past", become crucial matters to each parent. It can produce children, later adults, who:
    a. do not wish to be "white" so they can enjoy the advantages of such a "superior" status, and,
    b. are fully aware of, are knowledgeable but not bitter, about past and present racial injustice, and use them as stepping-stones to the future.
    Forgiveness itself is a very deep, challenging topic, with admonitions in the Writings such as "Should anyone offend you, see Me standing before your face and instantly forgive him", and commands to truly see your enemy as your friend.
    Baha'u'llah says His laws are like the ocean, and we are the fish, could we but realize it.
    In our current decadent society, how could it not be that each individual in a marital union often needs a serious psychological, emotional and spiritual "makeover"
    to be a good parent?--again, even moreso in this situation.

    In my opinion, the dangers of interracial parenting lie in just ignoring the challenges ahead, in patting oneself on the back for having not let race be a barrier to marital union or for having deliberately chosen it, rather than trying to ensure that all of the Writings on marriage and on parenting are rigorously, continually explored, with continual attempts to put them into practice.
    --Of course, older people tend to have a cautionary view of life in general, which is good, but also needs tempering with the bold enthusiasm of youth!

    Since the union of Black and White in America has been designated as a "service to humanity", surely prayer and supplications in this endeavor will attract divine confirmations to the parents, and be conducive to wonderful results.
    Judith W

  3. Anonymous, thanks for the love

    Judith W., how did you get sooooo deep and profound? You always set a high bar for commentary on this blog. I'm going to think a lot about what you've said, it's very complex and thoughtful.

    Keep those comments coming people!

  4. We're just at the beginning of building a family, but here's a hypothesis:

    Up until the race unity event at Green Acre this year, I thought Abdu'l-Baha encouraged interracial marriages because it brought multiracial children into the world, and that this would have a transformative affect on society. I no longer believe that's the key to the story.

    Our families are the primary site where we practice unity. A multiracial family challenges the participants to become united in the deepest way possible with people from different racial and cultural backgrounds. That's what will transform our societies -- experiencing that unity. The children will be beautiful no matter what, but we need more people challenging themselves to reach across lines of difference -- and multiracial families are where that challenge will most consistently be met.

  5. Lev, multiracial families certainly have that potential, if they struggle with some of the issues that Judith brought up. If these families have positive social and spiritual value, we need to take seriously making sure that they are happy and healthy. In my opinion this will not happen by chance but through intentional action by those who see the potential you are describing.