Before we had Jackson, my husband and I would often talk about what it will be like to have a biracial child. We discussed the challenges we might face and how we want to handle those challenges. Now that we have a child, these challenges are becoming more of a reality and slightly daunting to me. Although Jackson is only 14 months old, I’m already thinking about what friends he will have, how he will be treated in school, and how his life will be impacted by his race.

I was at the doctor’s office for Jackson’s very first visit at 10 days old. I was filling out the paperwork and came across the race portion. I stopped in my tracks and didn’t know what to choose. The receptionist told me that “people choose based on the father’s race.” Therefore, my choice was African American. This sort of bothers me. Yes, I know my husband is African, so my son is part African American. But what about my race? Jackson is obviously part Caucasian too. Can we choose both races? I wonder if there will ever be a biracial option for him to choose. In fact, is he even 50/50? He IS African American and he IS Caucasian. In my eyes, he is a perfect mixture….not half and half.

The older Jackson gets, the more I think about how his race will be a factor in his life. Will it be negative or positive? The way life is right now, I can’t help but think it will be negative. If he has to check “African American” on a college or job application, will that hinder his chances of getting accepted or interviewed? Will he get pulled over by a police officer because he has darker skin?

I have so many questions and wonders. How will he be treated by his peers? Will his black peers think he is “too white” to hang out with them? Will his white peers shy away because he is black? Right now he is in a daycare with only Caucasian children, which means he’s not interacting with a diverse group. Thankfully there are some other biracial children in our neighborhood that he will play with and we also have very good friends with black children. I want to make sure that Jackson is interacting with multiple races (not just black and white), so he can respect and accept everyone. I don’t, however, want to make it deliberate. I don’t want him to think “I have to hang out with these children because they are black” or “I have to hang out with these kids because they are biracial.” I just want him to have fun with everyone and be interactive with everyone. I also don’t want him to think that he has to choose a group of people to be friends with because they are white or black. I know one day he might identify with one race more than the other, but I want him to have an open mind. I want him to know that he doesn’t have to choose one over the other.

My husband and I have discussed how we want Jackson to choose his own path and identity. We want him to grow up with a strong sense of self and embrace his differences. How will this be done? I know I have some learning to do, but I’m hoping to do the best job I can. I want to raise him as a well-rounded man. Someone who will be respectful, kind, and a leader among his peers. He will be taught that he can do anything and be anyone no matter what he looks like. One of the most important things I want is for him to be thankful for who he is and the blood lines that created him. He comes from two amazing families (if I do say so myself) and is destined from greatness.

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Gina Kayembe

Gina is an elementary school reading specialist of 10 years who loves writing and taking pictures on the side. She has been married to her Congolese-Canadian-Almost American husband for three years and is the blessed mom to 15 month old Jackson who makes her smile a million smiles every day. Her little guy gives her plenty to write about! Based in Des Moines, Iowa, Gina has a passion for running, sharing wine and laughs with friends, a clean house, and being the best mom possible. Follow her blog at https://thekayembekonnection.com/

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