Guest Blogger Christina Simon: On Being A Second Generation Mixed Family
Baby Christina Simon and her parents
Growing up mixed made my typical childhood challenges more painful. From as far back as I can remember people would stare at me and at our family. I always knew why they were looking. It was because we were mixed, my mom told us. We were unique, she always said. Occasionally, black guys would smile knowingly at my mom and tell her my younger sister and I were cute. Elderly white ladies would shake their heads and make a “tsk, tsk” sound of disapproval.
As I got older, white people were always asking me, “What are you?” My smart-ass answer was, “I’m American.”
“No, what are you?” they’d insist.
“Mixed”, I’d respond. There was no need for African Americans to ask the question. They know from looking at me that I’m mixed.
Topanga, CA, where I was raised, was predominately white, with a few black celebrities. We didn’t have any mixed kids in our neighborhood. One of my 4thgrade classmates, a white boy, relentlessly called me racist names like “zebra” and the “N” word. I will never forget his meanness. One day, I could no longer take it. As the boy stepped off the bus, I jumped him from behind and we had a nasty fistfight. He never bothered me again.
As I got older, I decided I’d be me, just as I am. It’s what I’ve always done to fit into both of my worlds. That’s what I hope my kids will do.
Christina Simon, her husband, and two beautiful children
Now that I’m a mom, being a mixed-race family isn’t without difficult drama. My husband’s family doesn’t accept that he married me, both because I’m not Jewish and I’m African American. My dad is Jewish, but not my mom. I’ve never met my husband’s parents and they’ve never met my kids. He is estranged from his parents and siblings, most likely permanently.
My kids are fascinated with this family division. They ask questions about my husband’s parents and why we’ve never met them. My husband tells the kids that his mother isn’t always a nice person and she’s not somebody we want to be around. We haven’t told them the real story yet. That will come later. It won’t be an easy conversation to have with the kids. I know I will feel extremely protective of them as we explain the issues involved with their grandparents’ rejection of their dad.
For us, with rejection came acceptance. When my husband’s parents stopped speaking to him, his aunt and uncle stepped in and became my kids’ grandparents. They provide us with unconditional love and support. We are extremely close to them.
Recently, I asked my kids if they could name any famous people who are mixed, African American and white. “President Obama and Lenny Kravitz,” said my daughter without hesitation.
Christina Simon is the co-author of “Beyond The Brochure: An Insider’s Guide To Private Elementary Schools In Los Angeles.” She also writes the blog, www.beyondthebrochure.blogspot.com about applying to private elementary schools in Los Angeles and the ups and downs as life as a private school mom. Christina’s blog was just voted “Top 25 Parent Resources” by Circle Of Moms. She has written recent guest blog pieces for Mamapedia, BlogHer Syndication, The Well Mom, Sane Moms, The Mother Company, Eco Mom, Macaroni Kids, A Child Grows In Brooklyn, Power Of Moms, The Twin Coach and The Culture Mom. Christina is a former vice president at Fleishman-Hillard, a global public relations firm. She has a 7-year-old son and a 10-year-old daughter. Christina lives in Los Angeles with her husband and kids. She has a B.A. from UC Berkeley and an M.A. from UCLA.