Talking to one mother about raising biracial children in a world where the color of your skin can be deadly besides being a challenge to their future.
How old are your children today?
Marlena: My son is 16 and my daughter is 12.
For you, what was your surroundings like when you were pregnant with your first child knowing he was half African American?
Marlena: My surroundings were complicated. I was in my first apartment on my own. The father was there but wasn’t there. I had the support of my grandmother and my mother completely.
Looking back how does the fears for him differ if any from then to the environment we’re in now?
Marlena: My fears are very different from when he was born. The environment has changed so much over the years. Things are so much more in focus than ever. This world has made some great changes. The world has a lot of incidents that shouldn’t have happened but it brought a better light to some issues that needed to seen. I have had talks with my son about these issues
Do you see people treating your child as a statistic & if so how do you handle it for him to understand?
Marlena: Yes I do see people treating my child as a statistic. I have talked to him about how people can see them and how they see themselves. I always tell them to “always be their self no matter what” I also tell him to embrace both of his races.
When Black Lives Matter started what was your first thoughts?
Marlena: I loved the fact Black Lives Matter started. I was glad to see the changes being made. It still is a work in process. I will always support this movement even if I didn’t have biracial children. I have always seen people as people not as their race. I have also taught my kids to “never see color but a person for who they are”
What are your fears for your children?
Marlena: My fear for both my kids is that they won’t be able to pick themselves up after any major downfall or issue especially when it comes to them being biracial. . Even tho I have helped them figure out their own ways. My children have been taught to embrace both of their races. If they believe something doesn’t feel right, we have discussions about how they feel about it.
when you had your 2nd child what were your worries knowing it was a girl?
Marlena: Only fear I have is that my daughter will have an attitude that is worst than mine. Also, she will not be able to control it to better herself. Her generation is way worse than my generation growing up.
How do you help her cope with the reality she will be judged because she is mixed by other females?
Marlena: I talk to her every day about different topics. I have even sung a song to her that helps her. The song I sing to her is Body in Motion. At the end of the song where it says” Baby, you’re gorgeous, You’re incredible, You’re beautiful, You’re phenomenal, You’re amazin’, Most importantly, you’re a queen”. She just smiles and laughs when i do that. It makes her feel so much better.
How do you guide your children as they grow into their personalities when they are in situations that they have to be cautious of because of their skin tone?
Marlena: I talk to them about any situation that comes up. Also how their personality could make for a better or worse situation. My children have too completely personalities. One is quiet and one is loud. I have to explain to them in very different ways.
What do you want your children to understand about the world that they fully haven’t experienced yet?
Marlena: That this world is forever changing. Don’t expect things to always work. Don’t expect people to always have your best interests at heart.
Raising a young man is difficult specially alone without another male to help guide him through aspects that being a mom, you want to be there but knowing it’s not the same. How do you get him to understand your fears are warranted and your not just being overprotective?
Marlena: We have talks no matter what the situation is even if we had a bad one at first, we always have a great one afterward. He doesn’t always want to hear things sometimes but he does listen.
We always hear about African American men being in danger, what are your fears for your daughter?
Marlena: They are the same as my son. The same rules apply. In my eyes the dangers are the same no matter rather you are male or female.
Your children are your world how are you able to keep them motivated that everything will be ok even when your not around?
Marlena: I always teach them things every day to help them in the future. I also remind them about how I was from the time they were babies.
What advice would you give to a single mom who is struggling to win the battle from the streets influences?
Marlena: Never put too much fear in them that they have more comfort in the streets instead of their own home.
How would you describe your children?
Marlena: I have two completely personalities for both. One is more laid back and chill while the other one is dramatic and crazy.
Whats your motto for being a mom?
Marlena: They make your life so crazy but interesting.