Parenting is a tough (but rewarding!) gig. However, it’s even more challenging when you and your kid experience hate and bigotry simply due to skin color. Sadly, that is exactly what a lot of parents raising mixed-race children, as well as children of color, are forced to endure, including Meghan Markle, The Duchess Sussex and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. The two spoke for Time’s 100 Talks Series and discussed the challenges they’ve faced raising mixed-race kids and how that has shaped them in terms of understanding and fighting against racism.
One of Ohanian’s recent anti-racist efforts was giving up his seat on the Reddit board and requesting that the person who replaced him be Black. “I thought about the role that it plays and the role that all social media companies play in our society and the world that it is shaping, including for people like my daughter, like my wife,” he told Markle. “I knew I had a responsibility that I had to answer her when she asks me in 10 years — when she's a snarky teenager — what I did to help be a part of making things better for her.”
Serena Williams’s husband acknowledged that while there’s a lot more work to be done, he hopes “that this is a first step for me to try and just be more deliberate in the work that I'm doing and, frankly, more effective in the work that I'm doing to create a better future for my daughter and lots of other people who look like her because, frankly, it's going to mean a better outcome for all of us.”
Markle, whose son Archie was born in May 2019, praised Ohanian for his action and said that she hopes others will follow in his footsteps in terms of not staying silent in the face of injustice and inequality. She also addressed how raising a mixed-race child has shifted her perspective as well.
"You are leading by example," Markle responded. "I know that we have shared experiences of being in interracial marriages and raising small children who are of mixed race and how it plays into that."
The fact that Markle and Ohanian (not to mention their kids) have had to deal with any sort of hate at all because of race is obviously heart-breaking but sadly, it’s all too common of an experience for parents of both mixed-race children and children of color. Despite the fact that, for the first time, less than half of children under the age of 15 in America are white, racism, both on an individual and systemic level, is still pervasive in our society.
Sharon H. Chang, the author of Raising Mixed Race: Multiracial Asian Children in a Post-Racial World, said that she found that parents of multiracial children will often choose to try and pretend like prejudice does not exist rather than discuss and confront it. And as a result, mixed-race children can be left feeling marginalized or displaced.
“The revelation that parents resist having race conversations with their mixed kids here is also incredibly worrisome when we consider that A) these multiracial children represent one of the fastest-growing upcoming generational cohorts in our society, a society plagued by injustice and discrimination; but B) aren't being supported in gaining critical and resistant tools from the start to help them become aware, empowered citizens engaged in making change,” Chang told NBC News.
Hopefully, more parents see Ohanian and Markle’s outspokenness and begin to have these difficult conversations about the discrimination mixed-race children face. Because unless we are all willing to recognize this problem, we can’t hope to make any real progress towards fixing it.
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