(Halloween 2018. My daughter regularly practices yoga with me)
Something interesting came up in the live stream Chrissie shared with Christelyn Karazin this past Friday – a hang-up that I do not think I wanted to be fully aware of before I heard their sentiments. Both women openly discussed the ability of dark-skinned mothers to mixed-race children to support DDS Magazine without negative effect. I encountered this after authoring A Book for Black Girls earlier this year, too, and I want to share in three simple, not-hard-to-understand reasons why my support of DDS in no way threatens or negates my mixed-race children’s identities.
My support of the mission of DDS is clear evidence of my level of self-love, and I want my children to see that.
I am a firm believer that the most effective way to teach behavior is to model it. If I want my children to love themselves, that means I have to love MY self. This journey toward self-love began for me in 2016 when I was pregnant with my son, and it has been a steady progression. I have had to let go of self-limiting beliefs, learn to confront anxiety and depression, and most importantly, stand up to all that has not served me in the past and eliminate these forces. I am still a work in progress on this front, but the secureness I feel in myself has only grown through the work I’ve been allowed to do with DDS. I feel that this better prepares me to help my children navigate their own respective paths toward embracing who they are, standing firm in what they believe in, and being able to close their eyes happily at the end of each day. It is no secret to them or anyone else that their mom is a black woman, and I want them to know that I love my blackness so that they can, too.
My daughter and son are learning better messages about black women through the example I set.
Sure, there has been progress in the area of corrective promotion for dark-skinned women, but there is still much more ground to cover. When I see educated, fit, beautiful, not oversexualized women like myself being held up as the “standard” for black femininity, then I will sit down. But until then, I am doing the work through the example I set and the support I lend to others who seem to get it. I refuse to allow what my children see as representation of their mother to be dictated by the caricatures offered up in popular culture. It simply is not good enough. Nor do I want my children to identify with the stereotypes offered up of their blackness – blackness is so much more than this! Call it snobby, call it bougie, call it stuck up – my kids will receive better. Period. DDS is one vehicle through which that happens.
(Spring 2019, 10th Wedding Anniversary shoot)
I do not use my blackness to stand in the way of anything my children are.
Perhaps one day I will tell you the complete story of my husband and I, and how 14 years has encompassed 10 years of marriage (and counting), two amazing children, and a laundry list of other beautiful life experiences. But for now, know this: I was never encouraged to abandon my blackness in favor of fitting into any box, jar, or dungeon that he wanted me in. I dated him because he encouraged me to be who I was, no change required. He still encourages this, and we use the same approach to how we raise our mixed-race children. We do not “one-drop rule” them, nor do we make them choose. We present their heritage as accurately and equitably as we possibly can. This means we have plans to travel with our kids to Europe, but we will probably take them to Africa first. I am secure enough in my position as their mother to allow such, and, to his credit, my husband is secure enough to embrace and share in the discovery and learning about what makes up my blackness. We have two copies of DDS Magazine floating around the house, and are anxiously anticipating the next edition.
So, if you had a fear that giving birth to mixed-race babies would somehow signify an erasure of your identity or your culture, I can say from my own experience that the opposite has happened. I have only dived deeper into what makes me who I am through dating and marrying interracially, and giving birth to mixed-race children. I am also not here to argue any points or change anyone’s mind. I made a joke the other day that I am #TeamIGoGetMyLife all day long, which means the opinions of others do not matter as long as the individual feels their soul aligned, at peace, and happy. And I have all of those.
(Loving my own blackness in no way equates to a hatred for my daughter, or anyone for that matter)
Antoinette is a consultant, author, yogini, and host of The Midday Reset Podcast. When she is not advising clients, authoring books, or recording episodes for her podcast, she is enjoying life with her husband and two children. Find her on Instagram @msantoinettechanel.