The Root recently started a new advice column called “Race Manners”, and the first question it answered was submitted by a white woman with a biracial child:

“I’m a Caucasian woman with a biracial child (her father is black). I live in a predominantly white community. Why is it that whenever people discover that I have a ‘mixed’ child, they always say things like, ‘Oh, he/she must be so cute/gorgeous/adorable, those kids are always the best looking. You are so lucky.’

I know they mean well, but it seems off to me, and maybe racist. Do they mean compared to ‘real’ black children? When a German and Italian or an Asian and Jewish person have a child, black people don’t say, ‘Mixed children like yours are always the best looking.’ (Plus, it’s not true — not all black-white biracial kids are the ‘best looking.’)

Am I being overly sensitive by feeling there’s something off about these comments? If not, what’s the best way to respond?”

Jenée Desmond-Harris, speaking as a biracial woman herself,  explained to mother why such sentiments aren’t cute, and shouldn’t be taken as praise and she has a right to be bothered:

You’re right to be bothered by the remarks from the Biracial Babies Fan Club. Here’s why: These people aren’t pulling an arbitrary appreciation for almond-colored skin and curls from the ether. Instead — even if they are not aware of this — they’re both reflecting and perpetuating troubling beliefs that are bigger than their individual tastes. Specifically, while “mixed kids are the cutest” is evenhanded on its face, treating both black and white (and all other ethnic groups) as inferior to your daughter, I hear it as anti-black.

If you were giving advice to this mother, what would you have told her?

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  • John Pack Lambert

    Actually, there are much higher rates of inter-racial marriage among Asians and Hispanics than blacks in the United States. I would also argue at least in some areas and with some Afircan-Americans in specific religious backgrounds, they see much less difference in dating people of the same religion and a different race than of the same race and a different religion.

  • Delores

    I am Puerto Rican and black, I am very light tan with long curly frizzy dry hair my hair is closer to black people, but I do get asked if I’m “mixed.” The thing is, I meet many mixed people with shinier or less frizzy hair than myself who believe they are the best and prettiest in the world, where as I don’t think so. I think I look closer to black but P.R. People think I am Latina about 70% of the time even though I am mixed. I look a lot like Karen Parsons who is also mixed. I have a son who looks white complected but with black features, even though his father and I don’t look white. People constantly annoy me by assuming that my son’s father is white, when his father is not white! Then they’ll say oh he’s so cute and pretty. I make a point to let them know that my father was light like my son and that my son’s father is not white. Common sense would tell them that obviously if ‘m light skinned tan then my genetics can produce a child who is lighter than me . Kind of sick of ppl assuming my son has a white father. I am not sure if they’re saying ” oh he doesn’t look like regular black person” As if there aren’t very light non mixed individuals with slightly less kinky hair. White folks have a tendancy to be ignorant and love to stereotype, honestly don’t think some can help themselves.

    • ashleyjussayin

      you’re Puerto Rican so it’s pretty much saying like your three fourths black and one fourth Spanish

    • Hey nigga loving FAT ASHLEY……you got mines???

  • Fran

    I’m a biracial kid – Okay – adult now. People can call me cute alll they want. I don’t mind. Remember there was a time when bi-racial was considered “unlovable” and “unwanted.” Just enjoy it.

  • Nonya Dambusiness

    I just want to say that they are not trying to say black people are not attractive, they know white people make the ugliest babies on the planet. Them babies be uaf…big bald water jug heads, pale with blue veins. No real features, creature feature looking aliens…IJS

  • amy

    My whole family is multiracial. None of us share the exact same genetic makeup. From the time we were little we have all been complemented both on our family and individually. I don’t think one of us has been complemented more than another. If people didn’t like it they had the good sense to keep their mouths shut. All of us feel that there isn’t just one race that’s beautiful, we are all beautiful. Trust me, we are all very different. Hooray for diversity. We are so lucky to live in a community that really accepts people for who they are and embraces diversity. Not every family is so lucky. there were times when people made comments that were kind but racially insensitive. We really just had to take it for what it was worth. They meant no harm. When our parents were there they corrected them with a smile and not with contempt. They taught us how to navigate those awkward situations and kindly give people the correct words to use. Most people say stupid things out of ignorance not to hurt others.