Black & Proud, But Looks White: What Do We Teach Our Biracial Kids About Race?

by Jessica Lane

August 17, 2017

Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Most people assume Halsey, the pop star most known for this song with The Chainsmokers, is white. She considers herself a black woman, born to a Black father and a white mother. In her recent interview with Playboy, she struggles with how the world treats her because they assume she’s white.

“I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a black woman,” said the 22-year-old singer.

Sometimes, in moments of fear I think about my father. I think about him, younger than I am right now, holding a six pound baby in his hands and realizing his entire life was about to change. I think about how relentlessly he worked my entire life to make sure I always had everything I wanted. All of the interests he nurtured by working extra hours to buy art sets and violins and sewing kits. How I never knew we had ever struggled because he protected me from ever feeling afraid. I think about the rented apartments for 20 years. Every move we made and new elementary school I started so he could get a better job. I think about how he never objected to wanting to paint my walls pink or purple or blue even though he knew it meant the landlord would keep the security deposit. I think about all of the things he sacrificed and the opportunities he missed out on. I think about the hell I put him through, trying to figure out who I was. When I am scared, I think about my father. Because he brought me into this world without a single clue and somehow he managed to figure it all out. Happy Father’s Day dad, I love you.

A post shared by halsey (@iamhalsey) on

She freely admits she is “white-passing.” Before ya’ll jump all over this, she actually said this about what “white passing” means to her, “I look like a white girl, but I don’t feel like one. I’m a black woman…. I’m proud of who I am, and I’m proud of my hair.” She believes she’s passing because people think she’s white and treat her a certain way because of this.

But is that fair? Should our biracial kids have to feel guilty for how the world sees them? What should we teach them about their identity or identities?

tiny baby halsey

A post shared by halsey (@iamhalsey) on

Black people, our people, are strong, resilient and magical THAT is what we embrace when we call ourselves Black. But what the world assigns us and the stereotypes attributed to that assignment is forced upon us like a hot ass wool coat in the summer. Some biracial kids have absolutely no choice when it comes to embracing their blackness. Baby, you brown, you black. But others, like Halsey, can choose to accept one, the other or both. She chose to be black.

How do we create a safe space for our kids to discuss who they are and how the world sees and treats them? And, how do we do that without making them feel guilty and inadequate – not black enough to be black, not white enough to be white?

TELL US: How do you explain racial identities to your biracial kid?

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