? for parents of minority kids


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I've been thinking about this all summer.
Living in Wisconsin, we get to choose any public school our child wants to go to, even if it's out of district, as long as we provide the transportation.
Right now, difficult child autistic son goes to a school that has at least some diversity. There are many Native American kids who go there, plus some hispanics and a few (just a few) African Americans, like him. So he doesn't stand out much, and is really well accepted there.
My daughter is AA/caucasian. She goes to our home school, which only has nine girls and about fifteen boys. She is EXTREMELY popular. The problem:
My daughter is eleven so I'm thinking ahead. Nicole is at the age where girls and boys have "fake" boyfriends/girlfriends. Basically, they just say they like each other...lol. I don't really want Nicole to "go there" at ALL right now, but I do notice that, although the "coolest" boy at school named her as the "coolest" girl, the boys don't choose her as their "girlfriend." Right now, of course, this is not a big deal--I couldn't care less--but I'm thinking down the road and am wondering if it would be better to send her to the school my son goes to. She is making a good name for herself there because she is a top star athlete and is playing Pop-Warner football (you read it right--tackle football) with boyx mostly from THAT school, and she is so good at it that she has a large male admiration society there. Although she's a great athlete, Nicole is feminine looking and very pretty, but she's darker than the all white kids at our school and she hates her hair (it's beautiful). She refuses to do anything with her hair but pull it back in a severe ponytail. I'm wondering if it would be better to switch her to the school that has more diversity. I just don't know if the boys, once they hit dating age, in our school district will date a child who is partly black, and Nicole is VERY social and is going to care. At the same time, she is also a star at OUR school, and has tons of friends. In the other school, it's larger and she doesn't know everybody. I spoke to her today about it, and she isn't sure what to do. I did NOT tell her to think about switching because of the diversity. I told her that the other school has a much better athletic department, and it DOES.
Am I being silly? Nicole enjoys her school and I don't want to mess things up. But she is an Learning Disability (LD) student and one of the only biracial kids in the whole school. WWYD? THanks in advance.

Wiped Out

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Staff member

When easy child was going into third grade we decided to switch her to a school with more diversity (funny enough the school she was at is now much more diversified). For her it was a great move. She has friends of all races (she is African American) Caucasian, AA, Hispanic, and others. She has gone out with two boys (both AA). We are in a bigger city so our high schools have more diversity.

I think a lot depends on your daughter. I like how you broached the subject with her. I will be interested in hearing what you and she decide.


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I have a boy, not a girl, so I don't know if this is any help ... but he's in a private school that is mostly white, and his contact with-a lot of AA or mixed race kids is in sports, through the city. Most of the kids he plays with-are into video games, skateboards, etc., so it's the type of shoes you have or whatnot that matters. (Drive me crazy.)
He will most certainly be rejected in re: to dating and dances because of his mixed race "status," and I'm already spitting tacks just with-the concept floating around out there.
People also look at him one way when they seem him alone ... wary but accepting, since he's a kid ... and when they see him with-husband and myself, they are 100% accepting and the wariness disappears. "Oh, he's their kid, so he's okay," they think. Carte blanche. (Excuse the double entendree.)

We have a 39% black population in our area. We see every hairstyle imaginable. A lot of girls are still into the shellac thing (eouw!) and straightening. All that peer pressure ...

I honestly don't know what to tell you. If she's that into sports, maybe you should head in that direction and let the rest play out the way fate has it planned, so to speak.


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My difficult child refused anything but the ponytail as well. God forbid there was a bump in it!

I think it will be important to her in the future, but not something to worry about now especially since she knows kids at the other school already. My difficult child 'dated' one white boy in 6th grade - pretty much what you are seeing - the fake boyfriend/girlfriend thing. He really liked her though.

It is my experience that more white women are willing to date black men than white men are willing to date black women. Not sure why. Perhaps it is an attraction thing. Maybe I am wrong - just my experience. And I say that knowing that difficult child's gma is black and gpa is white. But, it is not so common here.

So, my ramblings are to tell you that I do think it will be important for her to be with more AA boys.


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I see that too and it worries me. Our town isn't near a city that is that diverse. Madison is the closest one, an hour and a half away. There are few AA boys here. The other school has a lot of Native Americans, roughly her shade and hispanics--I think this could be a better option later on. I think those kids would be far more open to dating her--she could pass for either. She also has very close friends, that we call cousins, who are biracial and live near Chicago. We visit several times a year. I'm sure when she is down there (I'm talking in a few years--when she is 14) the AA/hispanic boys will like her. At least she could have a few summer romances. She's really pretty! I'm not just saying that because i'm her mother either. If she would wear her hair down or in braids, she'd be gorgeous--both of her birthparents were beautiful, and she's tall and thin.

Also, our biggest neighboring town (18,000) has diversity, however I don't want to put her in THAT school as it also has a lot of drugs. My 23 year old ex-difficult child got into so much trouble at that school, starting in middle school, that I don't want to send her there. And she doesn't want to go--it scares her. I think I'll wait and see what she decides she wants to do and see how her social life shakes out once she's old enough to date. My daughter is already developing crushes on boys, and that's what got me thinking.

I think moving out of the area, where she has so many friends, would devastate her. Every time I talk about moving back to Illinois to be near her older siblings, she covers her ears and says, "I won't leave my friends!" So right now, she's content. It's the frantic mother in me that isn't...lol. One point of interest: AA boys up here are considered "hot" and the few that are here have girls chasing after them! Even my friend's hub, who is AA and overweight, is amused that women go after him. He thinks it's a riot as does his wife (this sweet man would never cheat).


Just my comment. I do not have biracial children, but wanted to add my experience with my son. He is white, but has friends of all races. His "girlfriend" last year was biracial. He has friends that are hispanic, AA, Indian,(from India) and white. And as you say..girlfriend meant he talked to her on the phone, or on-line or just hung out together..in a group. I have never heard difficult child mention anyone being excluded because of race.

I honestly feel difficult child see's no color / race. He just see's kids.

in my opinion if the kids are happy I would let it be.


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Ok, here's my take on it as the parent of two biracial children. As it specifically relates to your daughter I think you will find that the kids in her small school see her as Nicole, not as black Nicole or biracial Nicole. She has been part of the group for so long that she is just Nicole.

As far as the future and dating, I think you will find this younger generation much less concerned about race than our generation or even the kids in their 20s now.

Having said that, there are always groups within every ethnic group that won't date outside their race.

My easy child has friends of most races but the majority of her friends are white. She has had three "serious" boyfriends and they have all been white.

I'm not to sure you should make a school decision based on future dating potential unless you truly believe this will affect her in a dramatic social way.



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Sharon, that is what I think MWM is saying - or at least trying to make sure that it is not detrimental socially.

My difficult child is very dark. Her friends are shocked when they meet me. Most of them did not know she was biracial. So, there could be a difference there, too. I think Sharon's daughter is like yours - on the lighter side and I do believe that most white boys are ok with dating the lighter skinned biracial girls. That sounds horrible, I know. But, I am not judging anyone for their opinion or attraction to a specific race. I refuse to date Italian men - I AM Italian. It is just the life experiences I have had make it too risky for me to date an Italian man. This does not make me prejudice of Italian men, it makes me a picky dater. in my humble opinion.

I do want to make it clear that I sure do wish it did not matter to any of the kids what race they were going to date. I think my difficult child will always be more attracted to the black man more so than a white man. She is entitled and it does not mean she is prejudiced in any way.


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I'm with Kjs. If she's happy there, leave her there.

My older three went to an inner city school which was multiracial. Different mix to you, almost certainly, but still a real melting pot. A lot of the kids were various mixed race, too. The most predominant racial group was Aboriginal, with Anglo white coming a poor second, and then every Heinz variety under the sun. I guess even our lot fitted into the Heinz category.

They were generally all happy. They all learned a lot about multiculturalism - you have no choice, when you get a new student who is still learning English, but who tells you how his girlfriend was shot dead by a sniper as they walked hand in hand through the streets of Bosnia, only a few months earlier. Kids of 11 shouldn't have to deal with this sot of thing.

From there, easy child went to a selective school for gifted/talented. Exam entry. Because it was such a high standard, it was also a strong cultural mix, unlike most of our regional high schools. Her friends were more Anglo but still included Hispanic, Asian (various) and European. She also has beautiful hair and hated it.

I was just watching "Save the Last Dance" with Julia Stiles - she's playing a white girl in an AA school. A lot of the mannerisms and what I guess I would call racial stereotypes seem alien to me, hard to understand (subtitles, please!) and yet I KNOW they speak English, are intelligent, etc. And yet in this film the AA kids in this school chose to distinguish themselves as their own group, using these cultural clichés. It's something that kids do, all round the world. The Aboriginal kids in the streets round the school where our kids went - they have developed their own polyglot dialect which they switch into to mark themselves as belonging to their particular group, and to exclude those who don't belong.
As I was watching the film, I began to recognise the dialect, the swagger, the whole "I own hip-hop" attitude - we get it in some of the Middle-Eastern youth here. It's a sub-culture of "I am different, I'm going to push this difference in your face and flaunt it, to show you I don't care about your discrimination and your bad attitude towards me and my people." It's like they're channelling just about everything bad about Gansta Rap.
But the really sad thing here - by adopting this attitude (sham, in the case of these blokes in Australia) they are also adopting the mantle of being discriminated against, even when they're not. We see it in various white groups too, depending on where they live - they assume they are living in a ghetto area because the area has had a reputation of being 'rough' for years, then wear the chip on their shoulder like a badge of honour, almost flaunting it. The Cronulla riots were born of this sort of attitude, carried too far on Aussie beaches by idiots who believed their own propaganda. One of these young men has been undergoing a rather public reeducation campaign, as the 'white' groups he was attacking (and frankly, he's the same colour I am) have been helping him and supporting him, rather than attacking him. They took him on Kokoda Track, which is very hard to define - it's an honour to be allowed to go, and it helps to really understand what it is to be Australian, even if you weren't born in Australia. And it touched him too. He now belongs to Australia and knows it, in a way many of us can only dream. But even here, although he really tried in his own way, he would go into an interaction expecting to be attacked or ostracised simple because of his Lebanese parentage; and the others would sense the barriers he had up, and give him space, thinking he needed to be alone. Only later on could he see that the barriers were his, not the other kids (who all had their own problems). It's a long process for him, he's trying to be the bridge between his community and the so-called white Aussies, but a minority in both communities are still critical and hampering the process. His own friends see him as a traitor because he has abandoned their adopted chip on the shoulder (which, frankly, is just an excuse to have an adrenalin-charged brawl).

BF2 does this - he's an Anglo kid, from a somewhat rough part of town. But adopting the 'rough' attitude is a matter of personal choice, and in doing so, they adopt the assumption of being discriminated against, even when it's not true. Adopting this makes it real. BF2 is learning to drop the attitude - it doesn't wash with us. He's a good kid with no need for any sense of inferiority.

BF1 comes from a regional city with similar problems - it took me a long time to see it and then understand it. A sort of unhealthy competitive spirit is set up, with people living there saying, "You lot in Sydney are doing your best to make our city suffer. You look down on us and pity us - well, we don't want your pity!"
Meanwhile Sydneysiders are saying, "Whaaat? Where do you live again? You mean, there is a problem with that city? We always thought it was a cool place..."
The attitude produces the negative result they expect, purely out of expectation and attitude. It's like THEY are telling US how to feel about them, and then attacking us for it.

Back to your point - we don't live in the US so there are going to be nuances we don't understand, but what would concern me is having my child infected with this negative attitude. In Australia we have friendly rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne, but very few really take it seriously perhaps because, when you get down to it, each city is equal in different ways. But when inequality is real or merely perceived, negative attitudes can develop - either bravado or a sense of inadequacy - which can lead to a lot of miscommunication and chips on shoulders.

Your mixed race kids - it's great to be in touch with everything from our background, but not to the detriment of being able to function to the best of our ability, as far as possible. And attitudes like this are a barrier to smooth social functioning on a lot of levels. If an AA school, or mixed race school or whatever can give her access to a broader, healthier perspective then it's a really good thing. But if it narrows down to insular attitudes, wherever it is and whatever it is, then it's NOT good. I would be watching and listening closely, to whatever school you intend to send her to, and if you detect any hint of this sort of negative attitude, send her somewhere else, whether they're blue, purple or whatever.

Sorry if I offend anyone here, no racism is intended. That's the problem, I think - we sometimes confuse racial identity with racial segregation, often enforced by the minority groups who most want to be included.



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Thanks for the feedback.
Meg, I think it's different in the US, and we are certainly NOT in a "melting pot" area. Moving to one is unrealistic right now for many reasons. This area is almost all white. I think AA kids are different than other minorities. My asian daughter not only dated, but boys loved her. There is this stereotype of the beautiful asian female and my daughter fit it to a "t." My asian son, suffering from opposite stereotypes of asian men not being as attractive as caucasian men (and he IS attractive) did not have the social success that way that my daughter did. I believe that the AA boys in this area do great socially. The AA girls don't do as well as the boys. My daughter is friendly, sweet, very well liked and beautiful. That doesn't mean that the boys in our small town will date her. Almost all are white, with a few being asian (very few). My daughter is not real dark or real light and YES it makes a difference, much more for the girls than the boys. My dark skinned AA autistic son has a white girl with a crush on him, even though he's way overweight! But my son also goes to that school I talked about that is more diverse. It is hardly ideally diverse, but they bus kids in from an Indian reservation (many of those kids are roughly Nicole's shade, and I think they'd be interested in her) and some hispanics and a few odd AA kids. Right now my daughter is happy. She totally expects the boys to like her--right now "who likes who" is a big topic among the sixth grade girls--it's just the age. But Nicole is very sensitive and her self-esteem is easy to crumble. Her great athletic ability and wonderful personality is balanced by her Learning Disability (LD) problems and the feeling that she's "not smart." She HATES her hair, which is pretty frizzy. Actually, it looks gorgeous when she washes it and just lets it hand down, but she won't, calling it "an Afro" (and she means it in a negative way). She doesn't like braids because "they hurt." So she pulled all her hair back into a rubberband, refusing even pretty bangs, and that's it. I'm worried that she is picking up the stereotype that blond, straight hair and blue eyes are more desirable and her looks, but she isn't dwelling on it yet. Not at all. However, this child will be CRUSHED if she has no boyfriends. I feel like it's only a matter of time before she realizes that her blond haired friends are getting more attention that way than she is. Maybe I'm jumping the gun before there is any trouble. Nobody picks on her, like I said, she is VERY popular. But this one budding problem lurks in the back of my mind. I feel she'd help herself a lot if she just wore her hair down or in braids--she truly is very pretty with a gorgeous mixture of black and white features. But she refuses. This is the last of my five children, my baby, and probably my most rewarding child, in spite of her LDs. She is warm, sweet, and wonderful and has a heart of gold (she is sooooo good to Lucas as well as the one autistic boy in the sixth grade). I want the best for her without being "pushy mom" or "nervous" mom and I can be both! One good thing about our school is that the kids grew up together and are almost a family. Since there are only nine girls, there ARE girl wars (we were involved in one) but they aren't as bad as in a larger school. And Nicole has as many boys as friends as girls. I find myself wishing that I could move to Madison or Green Bay, but my husband works here and the cost of living is higher in those bigger cities...thanks for any additional feedback and the feedback I already got. You guys rock.
Ah geez Pam!

my head is so far in the clouds, I did not realize that you were MWM, and you are my myspace buddy. Durrr.

Your daughter is gorgeous, but I do get your concerns. If she lived here in a Chicago burb, she'd be a hot commodity. Where I live, my daughter is the pastey-est thing going. There is nobody whiter than her.

As time goes on, she may learn to embrace who she is. She's at that age now, where her self image is so important, and nobody can change her mind. Her heart may break a few times before she learns.

Sigh, girls are SO much harder than boys.


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We don't live in a melting pot, as a rule - it was just the inner city school that the kids went to (it was near where husband works). Where we live, it's almost exclusively Anglo. One part-Aboriginal family (she teaches at the same inner city school - lol!) with maybe a couple of other, thoroughly assimilated.

And yes, I do know what you mean about girls at this age worrying about boyfriends.

easy child 2/difficult child 2, despite being gorgeous, did not have a boyfriend until she was 17. She had local boys tentatively approach but she was basically unattainable, in their eyes. And the only boys who actually tried to chat her up, she would cut to pieces because 'they were sleaze bags" and word got around.

I'm wondering - are there any AA groups/activity clubs she could join, to get some sort of access to AA culture as a balance? Something like dance, drama, music - something more African, perhaps? I really have no idea here, we do have African groups here, various small cultural clubs for kids based around music or dance. And my Aboriginal friends have contacts in our Bangarra Dance Theatre (my teacher friend's daughter has recently begun classes with them) - is there an AA equivalent close enough to commute to? It could provide a balance as well as broaden her circles.



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Meg, no. There are few AA in this neck of the woods, period. Plus my daughter wouldn't want to just hang around with AA kids. To her that would be silly. I just wish there was more of a mix in our neighborhood. She is showing an interest in boys already and is quite well-developed, so I don't think she'll want to be 17 before she dates. On the other hand, I don't want her to date, even casually, until she is at least fourteen. The scary thing is, kids start dating at twelve (she's eleven). I think I'm going to take a "wait and see" attitude since there is no way in hello that she's going on ANY sort of date, even in a group, until she is in high school. They have dances here and she's gone to them and danced. There was no problem there (I hate dances for fifth graders, by the way). I'll see how it goes and if any of the boys seem interested in her before then. If it seems like she could miss out due to her race, I can broach that "you know, the other school has a much better athletic department" issue again. And I'm so glad to live in Wisconsin, where you can pick where your child goes to school, no matter where you live! Thanks, all!


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As another parent of a caucasian boy (now 12 yo), I just wanted to add my 2 cents worth- my son has never made his friends based on race- or even seemed to notice. He's always shown attraction to bi-racial (AA/caucasian or hispanic/caucasian) girls. His first "girlfriend" in early elementary years (really, a best friend) was bi-racial, and very pretty little girl. Now, I try to keep him interested in other things because the "girlfriend" interest is tempted to be more than friends. Anyway, I may be naive about this but I think there are a lot of boys who will take a second and third look at her and want to get to know her and not care about the race thing.