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The 2010 Census showed a rapid rise in those who identify as multiracial in the United States, and yet, ignorance in regards to discussing race and ethnicity in this country abounds. If you're raising biracial or multiracial kids, you've probably heard at least a few of these crass comments and questions from strangers — or even from family and friends who simply don't know better. Well, as Maya Angelou once said, "when you know better, do better," so let's educate those who have never been in our shoes, shall we?
Here are eight comments parents of biracial and multiracial children are tired of hearing about our kids. Hopefully we can all agree never to utter them again. Don't be afraid to pass it on to those people in your life who still don't seem to get it!
1. "I love multiracial children. They're always the most beautiful."
Although this one seems to come from a good place, it doesn't really feel good. There is often a sense of exoticism behind the comment, and sometimes the comment infers that children who are darker are not as cute, while a hue in between dark and light is "just right"… The comment is actually downright disturbing when you start to break it down and peel back the layers.
2. "What are they?"
They're kids. My kids, also known as human beings. It doesn't matter what someone actually means by this question or if they had good intentions. It's called "othering," a way of identifying those different from the mainstream, and often used negatively — and it's inappropriate.
3. "Are they yours?"
Sometimes, it's difficult not to snap and answer people sarcastically. Have you ever wanted to respond, "no, they're not mine, I just like wrestling other people's screaming babies into my shopping cart while I grocery shop. What do you think?"
4. "Are they adopted?"
Even if they were, that's not anyone's business. Do these people even think what this conversation must sound like to the child and how it could impact them? Guess not. Some days it might be safest to respond to this question with a curt quip such as "please, just walk away."
Admit it, no matter how calm and collected you might be in reality, you've dealt with this infuriating scenario — and you've imagined it playing out a little differently in your head.
6. "Oh, I didn't realize you were together."
Sometimes people are stupid enough to say this out loud, and you watch them squirm with awkwardness afterward as they wait for you to say something; other times it's just a nonverbal message you get from people who openly stare while trying to figure out your family. Either way, it's annoying. Your options are to ignore, ignore, ignore, or in the wise words of Pee-Wee Herman say, "why don't you take a picture? It'll last longer!"
7. "Aww, it's too bad he didn't get your eyes…"
...or hair, or skin color… None of these comments are acceptable, especially not in the presence of the child who will become self-conscious and attempt to determine how they measure up against siblings. Who looks like mommy? Who looks like daddy? Who got "good" eyes? Who got "bad" hair? As mothers, we may know better than to draw such comparisons as we raise our children to be proud of their unique qualities, but older family members are usually the biggest culprits when it comes to this comment and they need to be told this kind of talk isn't OK.
8. "But do they feel accepted by the other kids?"
The proper response? It's usually not other children who make an issue out of my child's mixed heritage, it's adults like you.