I hate to be a buzz kill and continue to post about such "serious" things as raising mixed children, but I'm sure Auntie Amy was not our only reader (present or future) that has questions, concerns and takes exception to what I post on this blog. To appease the silent masses, I have a few more thoughts on the subject. Two things.
We all want our children to thrive.
I think that all parents can agree they want to give their children the best possible chance at survival in the world that their station in life can afford. That's why we feed them and educate them. Teach them how to communicate. How to behave. Enrich them. How to make good choices. Surround them with good people.
So, that when we send them off to kindergarten, let them take public transit alone for the first time, permit them to have a boyfriend or girlfriend, kick them out of the house, even. Basically, when we're not around, they'll not only survive, but thrive.
This, in part, is why "being Filipino" should be a part of our daily lives. My children, more so than I, look Filipino. And despite what some would like to believe, this is NOT a colorblind world. Nor should it be. My children's heritage, ethnicity, culture and appearance should be a point of pride. Not of contention. So that when they go into the world, they will never be made to feel ashamed--actively (i.e. by overt racism or stereotyping) or subconsciously (i.e. by media). They will be proud of who they are.
To claim their Filipinoness is NOT to reject their whiteness or their Americaness.
This a post-modern world. We can all be BOTH/AND. It's not a zero-sum game. We live in a world of abundance, not scarcity. Our hearts are big. Our love is limitless.
It's what I got. So, pardon me, but I'm gonna give it.
In addition, as I noted in my previous post, my experience of "being Filipino" was limited by my mother's experience. Like me, Lola's parents wanted to set their children up for success. In that time, this meant eradicating one's home language and culture, with the illusion that this would make them more "American."
So, am I Filipino in the way my high school friends are? In the way recent immigrants are? In the way Filipinos in the Philippines are? In the way my husband is? NO WAY!
Once past the second or third generation of immigrants, especially with the loss of language, everyone is basically acculturated into American society.
Do I got about my day, walking, talking, breathing Filipino? Yes and no. I'm not a Filipino proselytizer, if that's what you imagine. I don't go around chucking lumpia at white people and refusing to speak English at the grocery store, which would equate to silent protest since I don't know Tagalog. But, I'm also not under the illusion that some of my experiences haven't been shaped by the fact that I'm Filipino. My mother, brother and I have been followed in stores. We've been refused service and stared at. Our ability to pay has been questioned. And it's not all woe-is-me negative effects. Waking up every day, conscious that I'm a woman of color is also a gift. I like the way we "do" family. I communicate differently, navigate social situations differently, respect my elders, care about community process rather than individual results, have a healthy fear of my mother haunting me after she's gone and am accustomed to seeing men cry and embrace each other.
So, for my children, simply being raised by me will make them Filipino, however Americanized. The festivals and food, in some ways, could be considered superficial fluff and not true culture. But, it's less about passing on actual culture and more about actively providing experiences, space and tools for my children to develop their identity, rather than passively letting the media and other institutions do it for me. If my children were white or passed for white, that would suffice. (This my friends, is what white privilege is all about. You don't have to consider or even understand anything I'm trying to say. You can just go about your day, buy greeting cards and baby dolls that look like you and never once consider how your life might be different. And you'll still live a good life and be a good person, no worse for the wear. Ignorance is bliss!)
But my children are mixed, so it does not suffice.
And like everyone else, I will not be passive about my parenting. Some people choose TO or NOT TO expose their kids to religion or violence or homelessness or Mexican food. I'm sorry, but that's what parenting is: making good choices for your children, helping them make good choices, until they don't need you to make good choices anymore. Otherwise, what's the point of parents? We should just have baby factories and let them live on an island by themselves. Reality show alert: Baby Island. Also, may I remind you? Lord of the Flies and they were all British boys--social experiment controlled for ethnicity, culture and gender.
I over think many things, but this is not over thought; it is intentional and it is authentic. And I hope that if you cannot understand it, you can accept that my parenting choices are not a threat, that they probably really don't affect you, and that you can trust that the world, your world, won't be any worse for having me and my daughters in it. (Guilt, I think, speaks all languages).