My wife and I had an interesting discussion with our 13 year old son yesterday. Among the topics we covered, was what it felt like to be Mixed with two cultures – African-American and Mexican-American. His answer did not surprise us, but it sure made us feel good about how he is coming along as a young man.
In a nutshell his answer was he was incredibly proud to be Mixed. His reason was that not only does it make him and others like him, different from most people, but also that being a blend of two primary cultures gave him more perspective and more to relate to and learn about, whereas a lot of people have only one. He said he enjoyed having two perspectives and cultures to draw on. He seemed totally comfortable and at ease with who he is.
Now being a teenager we are also aware that these next few years are the most difficult for young people, when the urge to fit in with their peers is a huge pull. So how he feels today may well change. But where we are also lucky is that he is in a school and a city, Los Angeles, where there are not only so many cultures and colors all around, but also a large number of Mixed or bi-cultural people. So I think fitting in will not be a problem in a place like this.
So often you hear people opposed to inter-ethnic relationships try to say their reasoning is that it leads to confused kids who don’t fit in with either culture of their parents. I have always thought of that as a cop-out and excuse. My son is but one example of how far off that reasoning is. But I know many others. Clearly there are lots of factors at play in how a child deals with being Mixed – where they grow up, their peers, how many other kids like them are around, and of course how their parents raise them.
I am just happy to see that for our son, and I think the same will be true of our daughter when we ask her, being Mixed is one of the things he considers to be one of his greatest assets.