"I Urge You Not To Raise Kids In A Colorblind Household": Parents And Kids Who Grew Up In Multi-Racial Households Are Getting Candid About Their Experiences

As someone who is mixed race, I've noticed that there exists some interest in mixed-race families. Sometimes, it's a shallow fascination — how many TikToks can go viral because mixed-race users show old photos of their parents? — or ignorant (and intrusive) questions. Other times, there's a genuine curiosity about what it's like and what people should understand about the mixed-race identity.

the author and both sets of her grandparents

^Here's me and my grandparents :)

Victoria Vouloumanos

So, I recently asked people in the BuzzFeed Community who are mixed race or from a mixed-race family to share anything they'd like others to know, from common to personal experiences and reflections about their identity. They responded with a range of stories, so here are some below:

1."There's not always a culture clash — at least, not in my family. The labels of white and Black didn't exist. It's probably because both of my parents and family came from the same place, Belize. So despite their skin colors, they all loved the same food, music, and having a good time."

comment submitter with their family at Disney



2."Both sides of my family hate each other and have no contact with each other. I'm also the only mixed person in my entire family, as everyone else is either Black or West Indian."


3."Many times, I have had people mistake my white, biological father for my husband (I'm Filipino, Scotch, and Irish). I am in no way ashamed of my dad — he's the best human being I know — but I also don't want people making gross assumptions about us. So when we're out in public, I know I say 'dad' a lot more than I probably should. I've also been told by numerous people how terrible white people are because of racism and white privilege, and it breaks my heart. Like I said, my dad is one of the best people I know. He's honest to a fault, works hard, has provided for our family our entire lives, and has accepted my mother's culture to the point where he's the one collecting antiques from the Philippines."

"I think the phrase, 'Don't judge a book based on its cover,' should apply to everyone." —Anonymous

4."My mother is a first-generation Texan from Mexico, and my dad was born in Iran. My mom tried to raise us Catholic, and my dad came from a Muslim background and never converted. So my sister and I didn't really didn’t get the whole religion thing — we just got into being a good, moral person. It's worked for me so far, but I've been dating a guy with severely traditional Muslim parents, and they don't agree with my interfaith upbringing. I'm the product of love over religion, and I've got to say, seeing how his family is, I don't want it any other way."

Catholic church in San Antonio, Texas

"Growing up, I was an ambiguous, light brown kid with an odd last name that no one could pronounce. I wish I spoke both languages fluently like my grandparents, but I know my parents wanted me to feel integrated in my neighborhood and school.

My partner and I have been together for five years, and his parents still tell us that we will both go to hell if we don't get on the bandwagon. We've told them on several instances, 'Hey, this is how we choose to live, and if you support/tolerate it, fine. But you really don’t have a say.'"


Gabriel Perez / Getty Images

5."Your kids will notice if your spouse's family mistreats you or is racist. My dad immigrated to the US as a teenager and immediately joined the military to fast-track his citizenship. He met my mom through a friend in the military, and the rest is history. He was the first in his family to marry out of his race and the second to reject an arranged marriage. His parents were furious with him and took it out on my mom for most of my childhood. My aunts and uncles were no better, constantly sniping at my mom about her weight or talking about her in Hindi when she was in the same room. They were not unkind to us kids, but it really affects you when you see that someone is making your mom cry, and no one is doing anything about it. So if your family is like this, really think about if you want your kids to be around that. Even though you might think it's just adult stuff, the kids notice."

—Liz, 38

6."One thing I don't see people talk about much is having completely different experiences from your own siblings. You can look completely different from them and watch how it impacts your lives as you grow older. It can forge your bond or create resentment. For me, it's done both. I have good relationships with both of my siblings today, but I've had to have several conversations with my white-passing, heterosexual brother about why he might not understand certain things. Each of you might closely identify with one ethnicity or culture more than the other. I think our differences make us unique and stronger, but I say that now as an adult. Growing up, it was sometimes really difficult to relate to your own family while at the same time not."

mixed race siblings


Kali9 / Getty Images

7."My mom is white and my dad is Black. My mom had no idea how to handle my hair (I have very curly and big hair), so she would treat it like straight hair. Now, I have very unhealthy hair. I also got many weird looks whenever I was out with my mother. People just couldn't grasp the concept of a white woman having a Black child."

"There are always subtle slights from both sides of the family — but mainly from my mom's side, from the hair touching to dirty looks and the use of the 'n-word' around me since I'm 'only half Black.'

Overall, I always had trouble with my racial identity. I'd always feel like I never belonged and like I was always too light skinned or too tan. I love my family very much, but they don’t understand how hard it can be sometimes. I always feel left out."


8."I wouldn't change who my parents are, but I wish I could just be one race because I'd feel like I belong somewhere. Having to explain how and why I exist when people say, 'But what are you?' is exhausting. Refusing to engage in the conversation only prompts more questions. I subsequently feel conflicted about my kids and how I will raise them. They are about equal parts unidentified white, German, Japanese, and Indian, but they definitely present as white. Do I teach them about our various heritages even though it caused me a lot of pain? Is it considered appropriation for them to celebrate Diwali since they look white? Is it disrespectful to just let them pass as white so that their life will be less difficult, or is that cheating them of important experiences? Are we at a point in society where race is more than just fitting into a box on a government form? Or am I just destined to not really belong anywhere?"

"The feeling of not belonging anywhere never ends. My grandfather was a priest, so we went to a lot of religious functions. My mom, sister, and I never knew what we were supposed to do and always felt like we stuck out. My dad did not care at all. I don't know if it was because he didn't want to be there either or if he thought religion was silly, but he made no effort to tell us what would happen or how we should act. From a very young age, I learned to try to blend in because we always stuck out in a bad way. I was also very resentful of my Indian heritage because it made me feel so 'other' rather than making me feel like I belonged.

Decades later, a lot of that animosity is gone — mostly because my mom devoted her retirement to taking care of my grandparents. But truthfully, I'm still not over it. I still feel panicked when I think of having to see family at the holidays because I've been conditioned to think that it will be miserable. I don't have any connection to my Indian heritage. Though I wish I did, I'm too scared of being hurt to try to learn. I have an aunt and uncle that I have cut out of my life completely because they treated us the worst, even though I've heard that they have softened up in their old age."

—Liz, 38

9."If you have mixed kids, I urge you to not raise them in a colorblind household or lie to them about their heritage. You might think it doesn't matter and write it off as 'identity politics,' but that path can lead to confusion, resentment, and therapy co-pays. I'm a mixed woman who grew up in a colorblind family. My mother's family are Western European, and they were my primary family growing up as my dad is estranged from his. We never discussed race. Because whiteness was the default and my siblings and I are ambiguous-looking to borderline passing, it never came up. Whenever I asked my father about our background, he lied or insisted it didn't matter. As the child of parents who viewed race as unimportant, I had to do a lot of identity work on my own in order to answer awkward questions from strangers, like, 'Where are you really from?' I only learned the whole truth about our heritage when I was in my 20s."

"One of my father's relatives had reached out to me on Facebook. Turns out, my father comes from a long line of mixed Black folk dating back to enslavement in the US. Our last name comes from a white slave owner who had a second family with an enslaved woman.

As an adult, I feel a deep sense of loss for growing up without feeling connected to the Black community."

—Mel, 34

10."You're half of two things, which is great because you get twice the cultural exposure, but my experience was also that I was never whole either. I attended an international school that hosted an annual event called, 'The Global Picnic.' For an entire semester, they'd dedicate two hours per week planning this. You were actually supposed to go to a group for your home country to plan food and a performance to share with the rest of the school. I never knew where to go. I didn't speak the language of either group, and had never lived in either country. It was very isolating. I ended up sneaking into the USA room. Everyone spoke English, and we just talked about TV."

empty desks in a classroom

"When I was little, I was so much fairer than my mom. People would think she was my maid. As a teenager, I would hang out with my male cousin after school, and if a teacher saw us (I attended a strict, all-girls Catholic school then), I'd get in trouble. My mom would then have to call the school.

Because of how ambiguous I look (I've gotten Spanish/Hispanic, Arab, Filipina, Mauri, etc.), locals will assume I'm also from whatever country I'm traveling in. It can either be very cool or confusing, because they speak to you in the native language or don't tell you about things that they might tell other tourists."

—Klaudia, 29, Asia

Klaus Vedfelt / Getty Images

11."I grew up with my Hawaiian mom and Euro-mutt dad (he's mostly Norwegian with some Irish and English) in California. They met during a rival football game in high school in the '70s. My mom's side of family has dark brown eyes and Polynesian hair. However, we all came out white as snow with my dad's blue eyes. My dad didn't know his side or traditions growing up at all, so I grew up with all the Hawaiian traditions, foods, and folklore. My grandma spoke pidgin and Hawaiian, and we had rice with everything. Nevertheless, my dad's side rejected my mom and us kids, and my mom's side rejected us because we were 'too white.' I was so excited to live in Hawai'i for a time, but I was never included in anything because I was just 'another white girl trying too hard,' even though I'm half. I'm now a proud hapa in my adulthood, but that shit hurt as a kid — never knowing where to fit in."

"Because I never looked it, I was an outcast as a kid. I could speak decent Hawaiian and pidgin — but, oh, they hated it and hated mainlanders even more. I was a damn kid and told to shut up.

As a teen, I just gave up telling people not because I was ashamed, but it was too exhausting to keep up with everyone and their questions. I still speak Hawaiian with my grandma and have taken up dance again, but it took a long time to get back to my roots without feeling like I didn't belong to either side."


12."The biggest thing is growing up thinking your family structure is 'normal' — it's all you know — and then, as you step out into the world (or even just outside your home), strangers, extended family, TV, media, etc. feel the need to tell you where you belong and where you don't. You get microaggressions, subliminal hints, or even overt comments. Sometimes, people mean no harm, but it still makes you feel a way. For example, I went shopping with my mother recently, and the cashier put the plastic bar in between our stuff. I laughed, hugged my mom, and said, 'No, no. I'm with her.' It's an innocent misunderstanding, but it still sends the message: We do not look alike."

groceries divided by bar on supermarket check out conveyer belt
Ryan Mcvay / Getty Images

13."My mom is darker Mexican, and my dad is white. If I could give people any advice, it would be to MIND YOUR BUSINESS. You are not entitled to know the family origins of a complete stranger, and it is not okay to invade a family's personal space and accuse them of dishonesty just because they don't look the way that you think they 'should.' Families come in all different ways, and they are all valid."

"Growing up in California, my family did get questioned by invasive strangers asking things like, 'Do they have the same dad?' and the classic assumption that my Brown mom was my nanny.

Also, it's super racist to 'compliment' Brown people for their lighter-skinned kids. It's 2022, people. Keep that colorist shit to yourselves."


14."I'm white and my partner is Black. It'd be really nice if people stopped assuming my kids don't have a dad or asking if my kids have the same dad."


15."I definitely have white-passing privilege, and this is something I've realized years later. I don't look really like either of my parents (although some people say otherwise). I've never really fit in on either side, but because I look more white, I assimilated more with my white peers. Even though I'm 50/50, I sometimes feel more English than Asian. But then I hear people's stories of oppression, and I feel guilty for even feeling like I don't fit in completely. Being half Malaysian Chinese, I definitely ate a lot of cooked breakfasts, but I never really related as much to my Asian side. I'm trying to connect with it now by learning Mandarin and embracing it."

"The one question that's frustrated me for years is, 'Where are you from?' I've gotten so fed up that I just say, 'London,' and refuse to say anything else. My partner is darker and wasn't born in the UK, so he often has to say his mixed heritage. I also hate it when I get asked where my parents are from. People treat it like they've won the lottery."

—Anonymous, 30, London

16."I'm mixed-race Native: Cherokee, Lakota, and white. I'm mostly native, though. However, I was adopted into my older half-brother's family, who are white. For the most part, there was very little racism. In fact, they tried rather hard to help me connect to my Native side while living in an all white town. But because hair is 'typical' Native hair (almost black and stick straight), I was made to constantly perm it. I'm still trying to come to terms with the paleness of my skin and a lack of ability to 'pass' blood quantum since my birth dad skipped out before I was born and my mom grew up in a Catholic orphanage. The Native community, for the most part, is tight knit and unwilling to let outsiders in unless you can prove yourself — rightly so, but it still sucks for those of us adopted by white folks."

"From the time I was 10 until I was 18, I'd only met three people of color. One person was a Black man who hid his racial identity so as not to be hurt. I was paler but still the darkest person in school. That messes with your head a bit. It's a lot of internalized racism to work through as you get older.

As for my hair, I got to my 20s before I decided not to keep perming it. The funny thing is that I'm now in my late 40s, and it's curling on its own. It's actually starting to look like my birth mom's. I have no idea how or why."


17."When I was growing up, my mom — who is white, as in her ancestors came to US in the late 19th century — was the one who tried to teach me about my Chinese heritage. It was little things, like giving me red envelopes on Lunar New Year and reminding me of my Chinese name (given to me by my dad's parents). Meanwhile, my dad had grown up being othered for his heritage and feeling isolated. Due to family issues, he also wasn't close to his side of the family. Though he didn't teach me to be ashamed of being part Asian, he wasn't interested in teaching me about my heritage the way that my mom was."

young girl accepts red envelope for Lunar New Year

"I do have a few experiences that are pretty typical: My mom got asked if she was my babysitter once or twice when I was a baby. (Apparently, I looked less white as a baby.) My dad's parents also apparently had trouble accepting my mom, although I'm not sure how much. I do, however, know that it was somewhat difficult for her at the time. That changed, though."


Goc / Getty Images

18."My mother is from the Philippines, and my father was a white American. At times, it was difficult growing up. I never fully felt like I belonged to my white side. My grandma favored my full white cousins over me and used racial slurs. Some of them would even make racist jokes like, 'Does your mom's family eat dog?' My dad never put up with any of that when he was alive."

"It was hard. Now, I don't put up with any of that as an adult, and no one says anything remotely close to that anymore."


19."My dad is Black and Native American, and my mom is white. My two sisters and I have tan skin, brown eyes, and dark hair. However, we all have different hair, ranging from straight to curly. I was 15 when I finally figured out how to do my hair. In middle school, I definitely had an identity crisis. The white kids kind of accepted me but would make racist jokes. There were also some bullies in that crowd. The black kids didn't accept me unless I talked and acted like them. Finally, I broke away and started hanging out with nice girls. I was finally happy then."

"My mom used to joke that people will think she kidnapped us because she is white and blonde. Strangers in public were always really kind and gave compliments to my mom about how cute we were. But around my dad, they were pretty cold, ignored all of us, and would give dirty looks to my parents (this was in the '90s).

My mom's parents also initially didn't like my dad and were kind of racist at first. But as they grew to know him and his side of the family, my maternal grandpa actually found that he really liked my dad, and my maternal grandma (who came from Germany as a young child) fell in love with Native American culture."


20."Being Colombian and Persian, people always asked how I ended up looking the way I do and wondered why I'm not 'tan.' Genetics are weird, people. I'd also get stopped at the airport with my grandpa because TSA thought I was being kidnapped to Colombia."

story commenter as a child with their grandparents

"Another thing: People like to ask about my family history and why I speak Spanish but not Farsi. Ma'am, this is a Starbucks. I'm just trying to get my drink, not do a bit on generational trauma."

—Anonymous, 25, Pennsylvania


21."My dad immigrated from Iran, and my mother's family has lived in the US for multiple generations. I don't speak Farsi. But when people realize I'm Persian, they always ask me if I do, and I feel like a fake. I also struggle with knowing how to define myself. As a white-passing woman with some ethnic features, I've never known what box to check or which culture I really belong to."


22."I'm half Chicana with white and Indigenous heritage, and I don't speak Spanish. Mixed folks are just not defined the way society likes to define race/ethnicity. The problem for me was never really that I didn't know how I saw my identity but more so how others saw it."


23."My mother is Samoan, Tokelauan, German, and a bunch of other ethnicities (including French and Cook Islander Māori). My father is Filipino, more specifically Ilocano, from the Pangasinan region of the Philippines. I grew up in Hawaiʻi, where being 'mixed race' meant existing and navigating multiple ethnic identities and cultural contexts. Ethnic identities are unique and celebrated despite structural and systemic racism (which I say since 'the melting pot' trope used historically to identify Hawaiʻi is bullshit). When I moved to the US continent, it was wild that people could not fathom that being 'mixed race' could mean identifying with more than two ethnic identities. There was always this push to simplify and reduce my identity because I had 'one too many backgrounds,' and that was abnormal. It's like having multiple ethnic identities was somehow completely absent from the Western imaginary, and it was hard for people to grasp."

aerial view of Honolulu

"What was even more unsettling was that the concept of 'mixed race' was regulated to the Black and white binary. People like myself, with marginal racial identities, were an afterthought.

In general, the US has really backward misconceptions of race and ethnicity. Quite frankly, it’s exhausting to constantly have to qualify, educate, and explain myself."

—Brandon, 29, Hawaiʻi

Simonkr / Getty Images

24."I'm Black and white. My mom couldn't deal with my hair, so she kept it short — sometimes even cutting it herself. When I was 10, I refused to cut it and started to grow it out. My mom thought it looked bad and that I couldn't deal with it on my own, so she had my dad put a relaxer on my hair. That began 10 years of relaxer use. Now, I'm 35 and have been natural since I was 26. White Americans think my sister and I are twins all the time; Black Americans don't think we look much alike. When we tell white Americans that we're just sisters, they ask — and, mind you, these are complete strangers — if we have the same parents."

"We do, but it's none of their damn business."

—Kindsey, 35, California

25."I was bought up in a rural village in the UK by my white mother. My father is Sri Lankan, but he was out of the picture before I was born. Due to the amount of time my mother used to spend in Sri Lanka, she'd always talk about how she 'felt like [she] was Sri Lankan and was shocked when [she] looked in the mirror and saw a white woman.' I felt like she was completely out of touch as to what it’s like to be a person of color in a predominantly white area — all whilst boasting about her stories in Sri Lanka for clout. It took me until my mid-20s to rediscover my own history and learn about my beautiful heritage without any whitewashed input."

aerial view of Colombo, Sri Lanka

"I wish I could truly appreciate myself without the tainted stains of my mother's 'bragging rights.'"

—LMJ, 28

Boy_anupong / Getty Images

26."The experience of being part of a mixed-race family is ever evolving. I went from having people assume that I was being kidnapped as a kid to having people think that my (darker-skinned) father is my sugar daddy as a teenager. I went from having people assume that I was adopted while traveling with my (white) mother to having them think I was a trafficking victim while overseas with my (darker-skinned) uncle. While the assumptions and false accusations changed with age, one thing that remained constant was people trying to reconcile the fact that our family 'didn't match.' Now, as a mother of a mixed-race child (who is Irish, Trinidadian, Black, and Puerto Rican), I've found that the base experiences are the same, but how we handle them are very different."

"This is one of the reasons that I started my own small business that caters to mixed-race individuals. We need a place where we can be 100% of ourselves and not be forced to choose a side."

—Brittany, 36, NYC

Did any of these resonate with you? Are you mixed race or from a mixed-race family? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.

Note: Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.