Biracial Families Embrace Uniqueness


Published:

"She can't be your mom. She's white."

"Why is your dad so dark and you're blond?"

"How can you be brother and sister? You're different colors!"

Children of biracial families hear comments like these much too often. Even President Barack Obama most likely heard similar remarks growing up as the child of a white mother and black father. Still, such comments can cause hurt feelings and confusion for kids on the receiving end.

Cynthia Hooten, a mother of eight, including six biracial adopted children, says, "The key is just to matter of factly answer questions and don't be offended. We just say, ‘This is how God built our family.'"


'Don't Judge a Book By Its Color'

Rona and Joe Machicote of Charlotte say their two sons were most bothered by having a white mom and a black dad when they were younger. "Our oldest son was sitting at the table at a restaurant, and he looked at me then looked at Mom and said, ‘Mom, you're pink and daddy's brown,'" says Joe Machicote. "We asked, ‘But do you love us anyway?' And he said, ‘Yeah,' and that was the end of the conversation."

Carol White, a licensed professional counselor and the mother of a biracial daughter, says her daughter's challenge was a bit different. When she was younger, the kids at her school would say she couldn't be biracial because she didn't "act black," says White. "Sam would come home and ask what that meant, and I'd explain that growing up in different households and different environments leads to different personalities."

As parents of three children, Juan Carlos and Hillary Moreno aim to dispel myths and stereotypes about Latinos. Juan Carlos says too many people base their opinions on a person's skin color. And often, skin color doesn't even "match" the ethnicity. "Given that my skin color is lighter and that I grew up in Alabama ... until someone hears our name, they wouldn't even look twice at us," says Juan Carlos, who is Colombian.

"I want to be bold and show people that what they think of Latinos or Hispanics is not correct," he explains. "Just like any group, you're going to have good and bad, fat and skinny, smart and dumb. So anyone who thinks all Hispanics are illegal or this or that, I say, ‘I'm Latino, and the image you have is not correct.'"


Blessings Come in Many Packages

Life as a biracial family, however, isn't all about challenges, most say. Blessings are plentiful, too.

Growing up as part of two cultures expands kids' knowledge of world and other people. The Moreno children are growing up speaking two languages and learning the customs of Juan Carlos' Colombian parents, who have been U.S. citizens for 35 years.

"Our two girls are proud of the fact that we all speak two languages at home," Hilary Moreno says. "I've never seen it be anything other than a thing of pride for them. The girls get to participate in family activities. His parents are here, and they are much more involved in the girls' lives."

Meanwhile, Hooten's son, Elliott, and daughter, Zoe, both born in Haiti, have shown an interest in learning more about their country of origin. "After my older son and daughter-in-law went on a mission trip there, Elliott and Zoe have been extremely interested in pictures and information they brought back. Elliott also has read about the Creole language, which is what they speak in Haiti. We're a go-with-the-flow family - if the kids have questions, we'll check it out."

For the Machicotes, the boys get to experience two faiths: Rona and their two sons are Jewish, while Joe is Christian. "One of the challenges (when they were young) was that I wanted to convert, but the boys didn't want me to because they'd lose Christmas," Joe says with a laugh.
White says it's important for families to find a supportive community - whether that's a neighborhood, house of worship or social group. "Find a church that is diverse and look for community activities that support and celebrate cultural and racial differences," she advises.

The Machicotes say their church and neighborhood have been especially supportive. "Attending Temple Beth El Synagogue has been one of the most incredible experiences in Charlotte," says Joe Machicote. "I have never seen a synagogue that reaches out to every aspect of a city. I'm openly welcomed, and I'm Christian."

Jennifer Johnson of Charlotte, mom to a biracial toddler, says the area is very accepting of nontraditional families. "We feel perfectly comfortable. Just go to the YMCA in University City, and you will see a refreshing representation of the diversity in the area. Drew is in good company of several mixed-race children."

Rona Machicote urges parents to teach their children to respect others. "I've always said to my kids, ‘You just need to treat people the way you want them to treat you. Everybody's different. If you want respect and acceptance, you have to give it.' I hope others treat our kids the same way."

Joe Machicote adds, "I think the opportunity for learning is still there. People are becoming more open to learning and a little less quick to judge."


Tips for Adoptive and Biracial Families

White offers these suggestions to help parents talk to their children about nontraditional families:

  • Read books that celebrate differences.
  • Watch movies that bring different kinds of people into a family. "Tarzan" is a favorite.
  • Celebrate holidays and traditions of the child's cultures.
  • Seek opportunities to socialize with other nontraditional families.
  • Enlist the help of your child's school and participate in school activities. This allows your child's peers to become accustomed to any unique qualities your family may have.
  • Give your child words to use when friends make weird comments. Come up with catchphrases to answer the most common questions. My favorite is, "Is that your mother?" My child's response in first grade was, "Yes, silly. You don't have to look alike to be family."
  • Teach your child that not all people who stare or ask questions are doing so because they are unkind. Often they are just curious or are seeking to understand.
  • Create new traditions that are reflective of the particular dynamic of your family.
  • Seek out role models and expose your child to adults of his/her race, or his/her cultural identity, who you admire and respect.

Tiffani Hill-Patterson writes about parenting, fitness and health. She also blogs about her daughter's hearing loss and cochlear implants at http://soundcheckmama.blogspot.com. Contact her at patterson1723@mac.com or visit http://tiffanihillpatterson.

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
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Website »

More information

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Website »

More information

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Where:
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1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
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Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
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Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
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Cost: $21-$31

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2024 Redbud Drive
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Cost: $11 for one hour

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More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

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Where:
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More information

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Cost: $6 for parking

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View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

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Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

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Cost: $21-$31

Where:
New Hope Baptist Church
2024 Redbud Drive
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $11 for one hour

Where:
DefyGravity Trampoline Park
8116 University City Blvd.
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View map »


Website »

More information

George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
Website »

More information

Drop in for safe play on the equipment indoors.

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Superior Play Systems
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View map »


Website »

More information

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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: 250

Where:
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View map »


Sponsor: AerialCLT
Telephone: 980-292-1593
Contact Name: AerialCLT
Website »

More information

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More information

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Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
View map »


Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

More information

This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: $10-$40

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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
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Website »

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This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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Website »

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Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

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Adults and kids ages 10 years and older can swim, bike and run. A Kids' Tri and a Preschool Tri are offered as well. All finishers will receive a medal after crossing the bubble-filled finish...

Cost: $25-$55

Where:
Morrison Family YMCA
9405 Bryant Farms Road
, NC
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Various living history displays and reenactors will be present to interact with the museum guests telling of the US military involvement in the European Theater of Operations.

Cost: Free

Where:
Kings Mountain Historical Museum
100 East Mountain St.
Kings Mountain, NC
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Car owners and enthusiasts gather to celebrate their passion for cars and showcase their prized classics, customs and hot rods. Occurs the third Saturday of the month, excluding May and October.

Cost: Free

Where:
Charlotte Motor Speedway
5555 Concord Pkwy. S.
Concord, NC
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George Beverly Shea and Cliff Barrows presented faith of Jesus Christ in song. Come discover the ways the Lord used their efforts and their music to open hearts around the world. Read inspiring...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Billy Graham Library
4330 Westmont Drive
, NC
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Sponsor: The Billy Graham Library
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On Saturdays and Sundays from noon-5pm, the arcade bar opens to all ages with a parent or guardian present.

Cost: Cost for games

Where:
Abari Game Bar
1721 N. Davidson St.
, NC
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Telephone: 980-430-4587
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Live the story of Stephen and the Apostles. Experience the rousing power of ANNO DOMINI: the year of our Lord while enjoying a Greek dinner.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theater
3327 Highway 51
Fort Mill, SC  29715
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Bring the family to hear live music in Davidson this summer! Dates: April 18, May 16, June 20, July 18, Aug. 15, Sept. 19 and Oct. 17.

Cost: Free

Where:
Circles at 30
Jetton Street
Davidson, NC
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River Jam brings live music outdoors, right in the middle of the world’s largest man-made whitewater river. Hear music on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, as well as during each of...

Cost: $6 for parking

Where:
USNWC
5000 Whitewater Center Pkwy.
, NC
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Sponsor: USNWC
Website »

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This exhibition is the first to focus exclusively on the black basalt sculpture made by Josiah Wedgwood and other Staffordshire potters in late eighteenth-century England. 

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free

Where:
Mint Museum Randolph
2730 Randolph Road
, NC
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Multiplied: Edition MAT and the Transformable Work of Art examines the rise of three-dimensional objects issued in editions, which emerged as an international phenomenon in the 1960s and 1970s.

Cost: $5-$9, children younger than 10 free

Where:
Bechtler Museum of Modern Art
420 S. Tryon St.
, NC
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The Things Come Apart exhibit reveals the inner workings of common, everyday items. Images explore how things are designed and how technology has evolved over time.

Cost: $6-$7, children 3 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Schiele Museum
1500 E. Garrison Blvd.
Gastonia, NC
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See the original, Broadway-style dinner show, and experience the story of Stephen and the Apostles. See website for showtimes.

Cost: $10-$40

Where:
NarroWay Theatre
3327 Hwy 51
Fort Mill, SC
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Sponsor: NarroWay Productions
Telephone: 803-802-2300
Website »

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This exhibit explores the various aspects of walls, which includes the artistic, social, political and historical aspects, as well as the physical barriers like fences or sand berms. The space is...

Cost: $6-$15, children 4 and younger free, included with admission

Where:
Mint Museum Uptown
500 S. Tryon St.
, NC
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us for our Pinkyswear Virtual Kids Triathlon event. This virtual event which kicks off formally on June 1st for all ages and abilities, and the triathlon can be completed anywhere! The...

Cost: $15

Where:
, NC


Sponsor: Pinkyswear Foundation
Contact Name: Valorie Liggett
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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Annual Guides

G.P.S. [Go.Play.See]

Your guide to raising kids in the Queen City, plus our 2019 Readers' Favorites for places to play, explore and learn with the kids.

Education Guide

A comprehensive guide to independent, private, charter and public schools in Cabarrus, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, Union and York counties.
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