I've had the privilege to get to know Melissa of Painting Mariposas in the Sky. She's been a loyal GUB reader and supporter but I am happy to call her my friend now too. Her little one, Doll Face, is Little Man & Little Lady's Snail Mail PenPal . I asked Melissa if she would share her family story with GUB sometime last year. I am so happy to finally be able to share what she has to say.
The Hubs is African American and I am Chicana (Mexican-American). We meet 5 years ago on New Year's Eve. I had just gotten out of relationship earlier in the year and getting into a new relationship was the last thing on my mind. So for New Year’s Eve I decided to hang out with some friends in San Jose, CA. We grabbed some dinner and went to a lounge afterwards. I remember being so happy and smiling all over the place. Life was good and I was surrounded by friends. I casually talked to my hubs for five seconds and he asked for my number, I gave it to him without even thinking about it and without even expecting a phone call. After all, our conversation literally lasted less than three minutes. I went home and a couple of days later, I talked to him. We started talking on the phone on a regular basis. Since I was in school in Los Angeles, and he lived in San Jose, CA. We had no choice but to talk on the phone. The more I talked to him, the more I wanted to know. We eventually met up for our first date, about two months later, and have been together ever since. I think the fact that we talked on the phone and got to know each other first, before actually dating, helped our relationship. I finished school in 2008, we got married in 2009, and had Doll Face in 2010. Life is good.
Being a Bi-cultural Family
Our favorite part of being bi-cultural is being able to explore each other’s culture with our own personal 'tour guide'. I learn from my husband and he learns from me. Our passion for learning is one of the characteristics that brought us together. Never a dull moment in our home.
Balancing both cultures within our family is very important for us. We try to make sure that we pay equal attention to both of our traditions and upbringings. We make it a point to sit down and talk about special events and understand why we are celebrating them. In the process, we have combined some traditions and have even created new ones.
Preparing to raise a bi-cultural family
We knew from the start that there would be challenges in raising a bi-cultural family. We talked about how we would handle any negative remarks or situations and specifically what we would say to our children. We believe that we have to raise our children to be proud of both their Black and Mexican heritage. We hope that by educating our children with history, traditions and family that any negative situations will not affect their self-esteem. My husband is trying to learn Spanish and has begun reading about Chicano/a history. And I took many African-American courses in College to help with the history aspect of our children's education.
The challenges as a mom to a bi-cultural child
I think the biggest challenge is misunderstandings between cultures. I never knew how 'Mexican' I was until I met my husband. I grew up with strong traditions and values. I never questioned them until my husband came into my life and I had to explain them to him. In a way, it's been a challenge but it has also been a blessing. It has reinforced my own beliefs and traditions while helping to establish new ones. But there is always that fear that we will not be able to balance our cultures, that our child will favor one culture over the other. We hope that our child can identify as both Mexican and Black when she grows up.
Being asked the race or ethnicity of her child
Most of the time I answer Afro-Chicana or Bi-racial. I use the term Blaxican once in a while, but only with people who I know will understand what that means. And let me tell you, that’s a small group. It's hard to just use one term. Race or our understanding of race. is pretty fluid. We go with the flow, but are aware of who we are.
Raising her child bilingual
Yes, I am working hard to raise my little one bilingual. It's been a challenge since I am the only Spanish speaker in Doll Face's life. We currently are working on naming body parts and counting in Spanish. I use songs as a way to help promote bilingualism and read books in Spanish. It's been “a learn” as you go situation.
The term Blackxican
I love the term Blackxican. I think it encompasses both Black and Mexican beautifully. And I love that it incorporates a little of both Black and Mexican into one word, just like we made our children.
Advice for other bi-cultural families
Things will get better. People are scared of the unknown. They tend to stay in their comfort zones and never venture out of them. So when someone sees someone else doing something 'different' or out of the norm it can be perceived negatively. But know that your family has nothing to do with what other people are feeling. Being bi-cultural is a beautiful thing. You get to celebrate the best of both worlds.
Melissa's closing words
We love our child and I know that how we raise her is a day to day learning experience. Everyone will always have suggestions or comments on how to parent. While we might listen to these suggestions, they are just that, suggestions. Make your own way in this world. Do the best you can and take it day by day. That is what we do as a family; we take it day by day and take the challenges of being a bi-cultural family one at a time.
Special thanks to Melissa and her little family. Thank you for sharing your story with us. If you haven't checked out Melissa's Blog head on over and show her some love!
If you are also a Blackxican Family/individual who would like to share your story Contact us at email@example.com. We would love to hear from you! To learn more about GUB like US click here!