I met Rebecca Rabb about a a month ago. We met on Instagram after she had sent me a beautiful picture of her daughter Keani wearing one of several headwraps she had purchased from my online boutique https://www.sunflowershoneypots.com/ . I saw the picture of Keani in the headwrap, and immediately wanted to know more about her. I thanked Rebecca for the picture, for supporting my business and asked her a few questions about Keani. Picture this: an 8 year old little girl, rocking an African print headwrap, along with a Sankofa pin- all by her choice. This is just not something you see everyday.
Rebecca explained that Keani embraces being a young girl of color and she enjoys watching documentaries on African American history. My interest peaked even more. Rebecca is of mixed heritage, and elaborated that she and her husband felt it was important for their children to embrace their black heritage. That they fully support Keani’s love for her black heritage. Of course I immediately followed Rebecca on Instagram @rabbuniverse and her love for her kids and her love for photography came through!!!! Her pictures were absolutely beautiful!!! Seriously, go check out her Instagram page- @rabbuniverse.
I reached out to Rebecca and asked if she would like to co-blog and write a post for the my blog. I told her how much happiness her pictures brought me, and how Keani was stealing hearts every time she was posted wearing one of my headwraps. I was so excited when she agreed to do it. We tossed some ideas around and she wrote a beautiful post about raising bi-racial black children to embrace and be proud of their black heritage. Below is her post, in her words. Enjoy…
Let me begin this post by framing for you who I am in the context of “raising bi-racial children”. I have five children from two relationships. Two children (boys) with my first husband- who was a white man from Belgium- and subsequently, I was remarried in 2010 to my husband (who is African American). From this union, we have been blessed with three more children (2 girls and 1 boy). With my last three children I recognized their journey in this society would be different than my first 2 sons, who are white.
The nuclear family I was born into is a blended family. It did not matter if we only shared the same mother, or the same father. My sister was my sister and my brother was my brother – regardlessof race. My experience was unique, in that I watched my white mother raise her black “bi-racial” twin daughters as black women.
Let me give some history and context. I am from Minnesota; the land of 10,000 lakes, Prince, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, and the Mall of America. More specifically, I was born and raised in North Minneapolis. Although Minnesota is predominately white, there are pockets of culture within the metro where whites are the minority (North Minneapolis being the epicenter of Blackness). Many friends or family who come to visit Minnesota, often notice immediately or comment on the number of bi-racial children and/or interracial couples that are here.
Just because mixed race couples are common here does not mean that Minnesotans are living in a post racism era. That’s quite the contrary. We have been on the national news for recent police murders. Jamar Clark was murdered in 2015, Philando Castile murdered in 2016, and just a couple weeks ago Thurman Blevin was gunned down by police officers.
Minnesota is also known for being a blue state. That being said, it’s important to look at the numbers. In the most recent election Hillary Clinton won with 1,367, 825 votes. Although Trump lost here, he had 1,323,232. The state is seeming more purple these days than ever.
Recognizing where we are in society, I took my mother’s approach with my 3 younger children. Since the beginning, I have taught them to be proud Black children. Regardless of how light or dark my children may be; society will always see them as Black (you want to argue this? Make sure you understand that the 1 drop rule was real at one point not so long ago). Having pride and confidence in what it means to be Black means making sure they are educated on critical aspects of Black history, and being prepared for when they inevitably encounter racism. The importance of being proud of who they are and their history, is extremely important in understanding who they are. They will consistently see positive images of their white side, mainstream media ensures of that. Representation with positive Black and Brown images is much harder to find, but it does exist.
The biggest push back I have received on the approach with my children has come from a white mother of mixed race children. She saw my son in a Black Excellence shirt, and argued that I should teach my children love… not color. My children are taught love daily, and part of loving them is teaching them their culture and their history. I also think some white women struggle with the world they are now in. When we look at history, black women have been having mixed race children in America since slavery. Now that white women are having babies of mixed race, and their children are encountering racism- it’s an issue.
President Barack Obama one of the most prominent faces of our time, never denied he was of mixed race, yet he identifies as a Black. He once stated, “I identify as African-American – that’s how I’m treated and that’s how I am viewed. I’m proud of it”. I am grateful my own children see themselves the same way. When they have encountered scenarios where white children have tried to make them feel inferior for being Black, they have been able to respond and maintain their pride in who the are. If anything it has driven them to learn more about Black history in America, and they know it’s something I will always support.
My approach may not be for everyone, but it is what works for our family. My older boys have become their younger sibling’s biggest advocates, and they recognize how their privilege can be leveraged to be an ally in this world. My younger three are aware of who they are, and have a foundation for them.