Monday, 18 May 2015

Identity Crisis: Embracing Diversity

Brooke is a 15-year-old from Sunnyvale, CA. She enjoys dancing, traveling, studying languages, and her dream is to study, work, or live abroad.

Children, raising children, biracial families, biracial children, acceptance, identity, identity problemsAs a biracial child myself, I thoroughly understand what it’s like to feel out of place. My mom is full Hispanic, and my dad is full European. When I first started school, I certainly had an identity crisis. Did I fit in more with the Hispanic kids or the Caucasian/European ones? I always wondered, but never found out. What I did realize by the time I got into high school was that I could have friends from both.

Schools these days encourage diversity! Why not extend your friendship to people of multiple nationalities? Now that I think about it, being biracial is more of a blessing than a curse, in that I can easily connect and fit in with many different people and cultures thanks to my diverse gene pool. But how can a child get to this point of acceptance with all their nationalities? My advice is to teach your child that being different is ok, and it makes them who they are!

Growing up, I learned a lot about both sides of family; their foods, their languages, their cultures. I think children should grow up learning about all their cultures and not just favor one. As a kid, I never wanted to learn Spanish from my mom. I would refuse to listen. I only wanted to learn Swiss, and nothing else. I regret that to this very day, because my dad doesn’t even speak Swiss, as his parents encouraged him to identify with Americans more than his European roots. Spanish is so useful, especially here in California, I wish I would’ve embraced both of my parent’s cultures, instead of casting aside the Hispanic in me. Even if both parents speak another language, I say, try to teach your children both! This way, they will never have to choose between either, nor identify more with a certain culture.

The goal is to get kids to embrace all of them, not just one. Not only will knowledge of both sides of their family help them as they mature and come into their own identity, but it can certainly help them in the long run as well. Knowing foreign languages is becoming mandatory in many places, so why not give your child that opportunity?  Remember that favoring one side of the family over the other will just cause your children to become confused and deny their roots. You should aim to raise open minded, confident, and knowledgeable kids. By introducing them to both cultures in the family, they will never have the troubles I had in school; they’ll feel secure and proud of who they are.