Over the years, my daughter has expressed a variety of feelings about being biracial. Her reality is compounded by the fact that we currently live in a very white town and until she went to school (in a more diverse setting about 30 minutes away), she was often the only child of color. She’s been processing again this week – this time about not being the only ‘brown kid’ because the new girl in class is Indian.
“I kind of liked being the only kid from another country, mama,” she told me last night. “Everybody asks [the Indian girl] about India and I want people to ask me about Sri Lanka. Now that she’s here, I don’t feel special anymore. I wish I were just from one place like she is.”
This was a sentiment I hadn’t yet heard from her. Most of our previous conversations about race have been bemoaning the fact that there is no one like her. Thankfully, our conversation got distracted, so I had some time to ponder how I would respond (I don’t particularly think quickly in these situations). In reflecting, I realized a few things:
- My daughter was feeling insecure about not feeling ‘whole’. Her listening brother even made the comment, “You’re half and half – you’re not ‘whole’ anything!”
- She needed her feelings of inadequacy to be heard. To clarify – I don’t view her biracial-ness as inadequate at all. I think it makes her strong, beautiful, and wise. However, even if they’re inaccurate, her feelings are her feelings. My interpretation of her reality is just that: my interpretation, not hers.
- She needed to hear her questions about her identity are normal. “You have a great little mind at work in there, sweetie,” I told her as I tucked her in last night. “You ask such great questions. Some kids don’t ask these questions for a long time – it’s good you’re letting them out as they come up. Keep asking, it will help you understand who you are.” She grinned, looking relieved that she wasn’t crazy for the feelings she was having.