Do you stare a little too long at a biracial family?
Do you sometimes wonder what a caucasian woman is doing with a child who has darker skin?
Biracial families are feeling the judgements — and during a vacation in Greece, one Bulgarian family faced the worst kind of discrimination because of their differences in skin tone.
“Maria,” a young blonde, blue-eyed girl was taken by Greek police from a Bulgarian couple accused of abducting her. Police took the girl simply because she didn’t look like the couple, who claimed to be her parents. However, DNA tests proved they were related.
Just days later, a nearly identical abduction occurred in Ireland, when authorities took two Bulgarian children from their parents because of similar suspicions. The children were returned to their families after genetic testing confirmed they belonged to their Roma parents.
But not all biracial families are genetically connected.
Jessica Seldin, a caucasian woman, faces these kinds of judgements with her two adopted daughters — her older child is a Roma from the Ukraine, and her younger daughter is African American.
“When they were babies, it was more of an issue, people would be looking for the parent,” Seldin told TODAY. “People would ask, ‘Where’s her mother?’ Or just not acknowledge me as their mother.”
She added: “I would think in this time, people would be used to seeing blended families where not everybody just looks the same. Even in step families, people don’t necessarily look like their parents or stepparents.”
To avoid this discrimination, Christina Stucki chose to adopt within her ethnic group.
“I wanted somebody else that looks like me in our house. I don’t want to be out with our kids and have people ask them the same kinds of questions they’ve been asking me my whole life,” Stucki, 36, who was adopted from Korea by a white family. “I just wanted people to look at our family and knew that we belonged together, that there was no question about it, and who was whose kids.”
Naomi Guinn, 23, also knows a thing or two about this topic — she is the mother of four young boys who have a black father.
“When my husband is with me, nobody asks any questions. He’s very dark skinned and he’s black, and it’s like, ‘Oh, they’re kind of a happy mix,’” she said.
But when she’s alone with the boys, strangers often can’t get past her children’s darker skin. She says that the curiosity of strangers often borders on offensive.
“I don’t think it’s fair to put kids or parents in that awkward position where people feel the need to ask, ‘Oh, are they your kids?’ Why does it matter? Why can’t we just be a happy family, enjoying our day? Why do you feel the need to stop me at the grocery store and question the authenticity of my family?” said Guinn.
Terry Keleher goes on to share his experiences as a white man raising a black son.
“I’ve been stopped by people demanding to know whose kid I had with me. And my son was stopped by a concerned resident who wanted to know if he was talking to a stranger – me,” he said.
In regards to the Blugarian children who were taken from their parents, Keleher believes racial profiling plays a role in the story. “[I am] saddened and angered” that police removed the girl from her parents “in the absence of any clear danger or known facts that would support such a drastic action,” he shared.
Keleher went on to say that black strangers are more likely than caucasians to ask him a direct questions like, ‘Whose child is this?’
“I know they mean well and are often just ‘looking out for one of their own’ so I don’t take it personally,” he said.
And not to mention, sometimes concerns raised by airport security checkpoints can be downright offensive.
“I know they think they are doing this for public safety reasons. But it seems like another form of counterproductive racial profiling, where they use benign appearance alone as the basis for added scrutiny or suspicion,” he said.
“If a simple Cheerios commercial depicting a mixed race family in 2013 still generates a lot of controversy and backlash, it means we still have a lot of work to do,” he added.
Do you belong to a biracial family and have similar experiences? Please share your story.