While I was having a get-to-know-you session with my students during their advisory period, I could not help but notice, when I asked one of my students what types of music do you like to listen to, he began to name country artist, along with hip-hop artist as well. I must admit, stereotypical thoughts began to come to mind, as I looked at this young Black man in my class.
At first, I thought he was joking, but he was serious. That lead into a discussion about him asking me where I was from, and me finding out he was a biracial student. Anytime I have the opportunity to speak to a biracial person I become intrigued with which ethnic group they identify with, and he said his Black side. What I found next was he had no idea about the stages of Poston’s (1990) Biracial Identity Development model stages, Wardle (1992a) Identity development model, which included environmental factors of identity development, or Roots (2003) identity model.
As I began to explain the different stages, the young man began to see himself in a different light. He admitted that he called himself Black, because his mother called him that, even though she was a White woman. Since that is the only identity he has been associated with for the last 17 years, he has a strong sense of belonging to the Black ethnic group.
The One Drop Rule and Biracial Identity
The next day, while the student was in my class, I had a co-teacher that was helping out, and the topic of this biracial young man came up, and she stated, and I quote “anyone who has 1/8 of Black blood in them is Black,” my temper skyrocketed as I heard that comment, but I kept my composure in front of my students.
I respectfully disagreed with her, and let her know that your comments adds to the slave master mentality. A rule that is created to justify the raping, or molestation of slave woman, in order to have more slaves. It is a rule that I would not want to agree with, just to call someone Black. It seems to me to be a cop out for people to identity someone as Black based on the complexion of their skin. Here we are in the year 2017, and we still are going skin deep in identifying people. What is it that keeps some Blacks, when seeing a biracial or knowing someone that is biracial from calling them just that, biracial? It seems as if the Blacks are trying to get as many people on their “team.”
Developing Biracial Identity
Parents of Biracial students, if you are identifying your biracial child as only one ethnic group, you are doing them a disservice. They will continue to pick and choose a side depending on the environment they’re in, and that could lead into not having a true identity. That is why it is extremely important that schools, and community centers, begin at an early age of the biracial child, to start helping the through the stages of biracial identity model. While doing that, we can set our curriculum and instruction to meet them where they are at according to the identity model. While the student’s progress through the stages, the curriculum and instruction will adapt to their development.
Helping your Child to Develop a Strong Biracial Identity
Final comments, as I continue to meet biracial students, I cannot help but to realize, at least the ones I have come into contact with, that they have strong identity problems, they behave in a manner that society has depicted as Black, they live with single White mothers, who may or may not fully understand their role in the development of their child’s identity development. One thing that single-parents of biracial students can do to help with their child’s double identity, is have them read articles about positive people of their minority ethnicity, find them a mentor, and discuss with them the negative stereotypes that society will have towards them.
The more education that parents give to their biracial child on stereotypes and how society views Black’s, the greater the chance for a healthier identity development. Biracial students must learn to stand-up for themselves when someone mistakes them as just Black. ~Dr. Eric Jackson II
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