Our house is filled with things. Toys scatter the floor, and paintings our daughter made are pinned up on the walls. The sun shines in the most perfect way in the back rooms, making it warm and cozy on even the coldest of days. The kitchen is the place we try our best to keep tidy. And the most important thing our home is filled with – a home with a West African man, an American woman, and our biracial, bicultural little girl – is love.
In our house, love stands out more than the differences in our skin color. It isn’t something any of us notice in our daily life; while cooking, laughing, snuggling, in arguments or disagreements or in the most beautiful deep conversations. But the truth is, there are days when we’re outside our home when we experience things, people, and situations where we do notice our racial and cultural differences. Our home is a safe space away from second looks, questions, conversation, and stigma.
I am writing this as a white American woman living in a small New England town, and this is my perspective and experience. The perspective of another person from a different race, culture, country, ethnicity or upbringing may be completely different.
When we are outside the house, it isn’t just the second looks or questions that can get to me; sometimes, it is comments that are meant to be really nice but, honestly, I am tired of hearing. For instance, “Mixed kids are always so beautiful.” Is this a compliment to us? Our child? Or is this a generalization? I understand people mean well when they say this, but it is something I want others to think about first, before they say it. Our daughter is beautiful, and so are many kids, mixed race or not.
Children with parents of different races or ethnicities are all different and all beautiful in their own way. It isn’t just because they are mixed, it is because they are who they are as individuals, not a group. I’d love to just hear, “Your daughter is so beautiful,” and some days I do hear that. This sentence has a special place in my heart, because I find her beautiful also, and because the person said “your daughter.” They did not ask, “Is she yours?”
Outside of our home, my husband, an immigrant from Ghana, West Africa, has his own struggles that he does not have within the house. In our house, he is “Daddy” and “my love.” But outside of our walls, he faces stigma, difficulties finding work despite his schooling in his home country, and constant questions like, “What are you doing here?” Again, these inquiries are meant to spark conversation and usually come from a kind place, but it’s hard for him not to be bothered by them. If the question is posed at work, he answers, “I’m working.” If it is in another context, he keeps it as simple as possible to avoid someone digging deeper into his personal life.
He has amazingly positive experiences with individuals who have traveled to his home country, are interested in the culture, or are curious about life in Ghana, but beyond this, he also has barriers because of his race in America. It is more difficult for him to find work he is trained to do; he feels he is interrogated by police in situations that seem unnecessary; if he has to go to the doctor or the hospital, he feels he is treated differently. I am sure I cannot properly articulate his daily struggles as a black man outside of our home, but in our home, he is who he is and we love him and have no questions.
We are happy to have interest in our life and our love. Our love story is something I love sharing on social media and through my writing. I embrace connecting with others who met their partner abroad, sharing the difficulties and beauties of being a biracial and bicultural couple, and hearing from other people who just see our relationship and follow our story. We are proud to have found each other, and we are comfortable in our skin and our culture. He is a proud Ghanaian black man, I am a proud American white woman, and our daughter shines bright in her own. We hope you see the love, and we hope to inspire others to share theirs.
What we want people to know as a multiracial family is that for us, in our home, love doesn’t see our color.