When my daughter Ivy was a baby, a family member told me, “You make sure to raise her as white. She’ll have better opportunities that way.” I was offended by the statement, but it also saddened me to know that this person meant it in a heartfelt way. I’d bet my next paycheck that those of you who read my blog have one or more family members who are prejudiced towards someone or something, and as unpleasant a topic as it is to broach, we all know that racism and hundreds prejudices that end with -ism are alive and well in these majestic United States of America.
My daughter Ivy will experience the brunt of some of these ism’s in her lifetime, but I refuse to let that hinder me from teaching her who she is. Even though I get my share of nasty, knowing looks (yes, even in Gwinnett county, which is one of the most culturally diverse in the state of Georgia), I insist that my daughter take tremendous pride in her heritage. Life is far more interesting when you change things up, and what better way to do this than experiencing different races and cultures? I’ve really shaken up some foolish old-school beliefs by having a daughter that is half white and half Salvadoran and marrying a man who is Thai and Lao. This might seem confusing, but here’s how it works: I was married to a Salvadoran man a few years ago and he fathered my daughter. We later divorced and I married my current Asian husband. Very simple and uncomplicated.
However, this post isn’t about my role in the racial and cultural revolution. It’s about my wonderful little girl, who I am very proud of, and who I raise to become an accepting adult. I feel like the world is full of opportunity for her, and she will get to experience so many different points of view. I know that one day Ivy will be amazed by the idea that while she is purely American, she is also an integral part of a seemingly exotic world that is only a few thousand miles away.
She’ll be told “I love you” and “Te quiero” by the many family members who adore her. She’ll decide whether she prefers football or futbol, or whether she loves cheeseburgers or pupusas. She’ll have the ability to wave the American and the Salvadoran flag with pride and know that she is a beloved daughter of both countries. She’ll be able to marvel at the complexities and beauty of both cultures, and the only downside is that Ivy’s Salvadoran family lives in New York, Virginia, Maryland, Mississippi and other faraway places.The internet eliminates some of those complications, though.
I’m able to stay connected with the other side of her family, because I want her to know them all. She has the right to know everyone that shares her blood, and there are others related to her that can teach her valuable lessons from different perspectives. I would never presume to say that I understand what it feels like to be latina or how it feels in the heart, but Ivy’s aunts and grandmother can. Ivy can. This is most important.
Just like any parent, I want my daughter to know that she’s loved, she is special and her uniqueness is appreciated. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.
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