I live in the heart of the Cotswolds and as a white mum to a son and daughter that are half Chinese – we stand out.
My husband is chinese and I’m white, we have mixed-race children who bear more of a resemblance to their father’s features than my own.
When my husband and I are together, it’s obvious that we’re a family. However, most days I’m on my own and I get the feeling that some people can’t the maths! We may be in 2017 but the parochial attitudes around here would suggest otherwise!
We did discuss it when I was pregnant, but as a mixed-race couple who used to live in London, we didn’t really give it much thought as it was rare we ever encountered any racism.
Now, as a white mum to a half chinese son and daughter in a rural Cotswold community, we stand out.
I’ve already been on the receiving end of some hurtful comments and because I’ve never been personally subjected to racism, I’m unsure of how to deal with it. Especially in such a small community, where my husband has a public facing job and everyone knows us.
It’s like I’ve been thrown in at the deep-end. To date I’ve lived the ‘middle-class white privilege’ as some people call it. Racism has never been front of mind, even with a Chinese husband.
Now I’m a mum, naturally I want to protect my kids from anything that may harm them, including racism. But, just how, I’m not sure!
From the pram peekers who used to look at them, then take a second look at me. The woman in Tesco who pointed at Sprog, exclaimed he’s “mixed” and walked away.
Then there’s the time we had a workman in my house – while alone with my kids – who called my son a ‘mongrel’. To add context, he had just asked the breed of my dog. He’s a labradoodle, so therefore part labrador and part poodle.
Without flinching the workman’s jaw-dropping response was;
“Well he’s a mongrel, like your son.”
I was so taken aback by how nonchalantly he’d said it, that I was completely lost for words.
Being alone in the house with my kids, I felt vulnerable and unable to call him out. Surely, if this man felt comfortable enough to be so blatently racist then god knows what he was capable of.
Yes, I’m probably over-egging the pudding, but in that situation I couldn’t risk it.
I wish I’d been quicker, I wish I’d cut him down and made him seen the error of his ways. I was left feeling that I’d let my children down, letting him get away with it.
Such blatent racism is something both my husband and I are unused to dealing with.
In the future, when our children are able to understand the concept of racism, how do we explain it to them?
I want to ensure that our kids are raised comfortable in their own skin, and able to field any questions that make them feel uncomfortable. But, to do this, we need to work out how we feel about the questions/looks/comments/glances.
I guess it’s a question of working out what it means to be part of multicultural family in a rather white, middle-class area. I don’t want to the kids to be saddled with our baggage around race, so we need to start working this out soon!
For now, I’m just concentrating on raising two happy, healthy, confident little nippers, I guess the rest will just follow organically.