Racism in a world that still has hate for

            Racism
has always been relevant through out my life and will continue to be a topic for
discussion in my life and surrounding my family. Racism still occurs today. “Racism
is any action, practice, or belief that reflects worldview and the ideology
that humans may be divided into separate and exclusive biological beings called
“races”; that there is a fundamental link between inherited physical traits and
traits of personality, intellect, morality, and other cultural and behavioral
features; and that some races are innately superior to others” (Smedley 2017). In
my own opinion I believe a lot of racism is still taught which means it will be
many years from now till there really is a noticeable change. Although racism
has played a huge role in my life I am unclear that it has ever been directed
at me. I have witnessed all forms of it from cruelty to racial slurs and I
think by only ignoring it and not speaking up I have contributed. Racism has
made a huge impact on my identity and how I feel. Many stereotypes and
assumptions have been made about my relationship and me. Society has come a
long way over time and there is still social disapproval for mixed race couples
and families. From the view of being in a interracial relationship for almost a
decade and now having a biracial or “mixed” son I have experienced a lot. I
convince myself that my own racial relations are improving but I have many
fears for the future and raising my son in a world that still has hate for the
color of your skin or your racial background.

            Many
people in the United States and around the world identify with more than one
race and that number is constantly growing. Americans that are considered biracial
are also known as “multiracial” which today could be a endless amount of
combinations. Before the United States census added a biracial option people
had to adopt the race of the parent with color and if that included being from African
American ancestry that would be their assumed label. There are many different
Biracial Identity Development Models and in the book Interracial Communication
Theory Into Practice focuses on W.S. Carlos Poston’s model. He was one of the
first scholars to develop a model for biracial identity. Poston’s model includes
5 different stages, which are personal identity, group categorization,
enmeshment/denial, appreciation, and lastly integration. “…Poston’s biracial
identity development model is helpful in emphasizing the unique challenges that
biracial people face, and outlines the process of how most persons formulate
their identities in a healthy, productive fashion”(Orbe and Harris 95). Personal
identity the first stage usually occurs when a person is young and him or her
does not realize or is aware of their mixed heritage of belonging to a specific
racial/ethnic group. This is totally normal and children just do not see
themselves in racially specific way. In the second stage group categorization people
start to really become aware of their racial/ethnic background and are pressed
to decide on an identity for themselves. Many things influence a person to
choose a certain identity. Friends and family who are closest to the person are
the most influential in the decision and other major outside elements may
include society and the community in which they live in. The third stage of the
model is enmeshment/denial, which is the result from the decision a person had
made regarding their personal identity. Individual may feel guilty for their
decision, hatred toward their self, and unaccepted by multiple groups. “A
multiethnic child, unable to indentify with both parents, may experience
feelings of being disloyal and of guilt over rejection of one parent”(Baruth and
Manning 35). Parents should be very supportive during this time so that the
child’s feeling can be resolved. Children can better understand and also be
able to appreciate each parent’s cultural history. A feeling of appreciation
occurs at the fourth stage of the biracial identity model. Although a person
will still identify with one group he or she begins to gain knowledge and
understanding of their ethnic heritage. “Within this stage, biracial persons
recognize and value each aspect of their racial/ethnic identity,”(Poston 1990).
The last and final stage of Poston’s biracial identity development model is
integration. “Through integration, individuals are able to carve out an
identity that reflects their complete selves”(Orbe and Harris 95). This stage
has a lot to do with being healthy mentally resulting from positivity. During
integration, the individual may still identify with one group but appreciate
“the integration of their multiple racial identities”(Miville 77). In society
today when a individual is faced with picking their classification they then
feel they are denying half of their heritage and it is a difficult concept for
anyone. No one should have to choose and I think a biracial child should grow
up with a real biracial identity.

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            There are many ways the biracial identity development model created by Carlos Poston
relates to my life and will be relevant in the future days to come.  The stages developed in the model will
be some of the complications my son Cameron will go through. I think the second
stage of Poston’s Biracial Identity Development model will be the most
challenging stage to experience. As Black-White couple we came together to form
a interracial family identity and will have to interpret race to Cameron. “Four
major tasks in the construction of interracial family identity emerged: (a)
understanding and resolving family of origin chaos and turmoil. (b)
Transcending Black-White racial history, (c) articulating the interracial
family’s racial standpoint, and (d) explaining race to biracial children across
the developmental stages”(Poston 1990). As a biracial child he can embrace
whatever identity he chooses. I think he will become aware at a early age since
his father (Chris) and I have two different skin colors and I know other
children may ask him questions. Although he appears mostly white on the outside
I want him to be proud of his racial background and know how to handle
situations he may encounter. As a parent I will never force him to make a
choice because it would result in a negative response and have a negative
outcome on his future. “Coming together as a family unit and establishing open
communications and a shared belief system about race and racial heritage allows
families to succeed together in the face of family of origin and parent-child
conflict”(Byrd and Garwick, 2006;Poston). As a mother raising a biracial child
is very unique and it requires discussing both sides of his heritage and I know
that Cameron will be future advocate for other children and for society making
it easier for children in the future.

            I
grew up in a very racially mixed neighborhood and my parents sent my brother
and I to private school that was predominately white since the area schools
were so bad. I found it harder to fit in at school than at home with the neighborhood
kids. This was in the 90’s so we played outside endlessly with the neighborhood
kids, who were Hispanic and black. I do not ever remember seeing color but I
was only a child at the time and my parents taught us to treat everyone
equally. At the time I was embarrassed to have friends over from the private
school I attended…they lived in the “rich” part of town in larger homes and
well maintained neighborhoods. Today I am very thankful for that neighborhood
and how it has shaped the person I am today. I went through different stages of
trying to find my personal identity as well as trying to fit in. I picked up on
many different things very quickly from other cultures. I also attended a
private high school, which had a larger amount of Hispanics and African
Americans students. I dated a biracial boy for the first time from a different
school in the 11th grade. Some of the boys who claimed to be my
friends at school would make jokes and say things like …”once you go black you
never go back,” which was not appropriate on so many levels. This is when I
myself felt stereotyped and experienced racism first hand. It was very
difficult for me to process and understand at the time but I chose to pretend
it didn’t bother me and ignored it. “Because, in the popular mind, “race” is
linked to physical differences among peoples, and such features as dark skin
color have been seen as markers of low status, some experts believe that racism
may be difficult to eradicate”(Encyclopedia Britannica 2017). I think the reactions I received are some of the reasons why
I handled my future relationship a certain way. I was so afraid of disapproval
from my parents and family to the point I felt in a way I was letting them
down.           

            It
has been a long time since high school and the world around us is always
changing. I think my race has impacted communication in my life and not just my
identity. I think our expectations change because of the specific race we are
communicating with. “Before even choosing to communicate interracially, one already has
a perception of a person based on his or her race. How individuals perceive the people and objects around them affects their communication”(Riley 3). I chose to keep my relationship private for many years
because I did not want to face how they truly felt or even experience any
negativity because of their assumptions. As I grew older I also learned to
worry less what others think but, it becomes very conflicted when everyone you
love in involved. My family for the first time met Chris who had been in my
life 8 years prior to our son Cameron being born. My mom had a perception of
him because of his race long before interacting with him. She did not mean any
harm and I certainly do not blame her, I think she had many different
influences and she herself was taught from an age when our country was once
divided based on race. We all have relatives who lived through the history of
our country when society was a lot different. People can have one negative
experience and let it shape the way they feel about every future experience. The
media can have a huge impact and mass media has at times portrayed
African-Americans as criminals, aggressive, and thuggish people. In reality
that could describe anyone and has nothing to do with skin color. My family
views Chris for who he is and not his skin color. Change starts at home and I
think if my biracial family can make a impact at home we can reach farther
beyond it. Poston recommends forming a family identity as an interracial unit,
which signifies coming together at all times, but especially during times of
difficulty and challenge.

            Racism is a significant issue that affects our entire society and
has been going on for centuries. Many people are not aware of the impact it
causes today if it has no direct affect on them. Progress has been made but I
think it all starts with educating our youth and teaching them about equality.
Education can help minimize stereotypes and minimize the hardship and stress
that comes with each person finding their personal identity. The general public
has to stop making assumptions about multiracial and biracial people and let
them have a choice about their racial identity. The past can not be changed but
the future can.