Racial manners: Is it rude to call biracial kids ‘the cutest?’

I ran across a very interesting column on The Root about racial etiquette and ethics.  The first installment addresses whether it’s insulting to tell a family that their biracial child is adorable and maybe even the cutest. Here’s the question and part of the explanation. (I wish I could pull more but check out the full column at the link

The Root:

“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.’ …

“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.”

“As Marcia Dawkins, the author of Clearly Invisible: Racial Passing and the Color of Cultural Identity, told me, “The myth that mixed-race offspring are somehow better than nonmixed offspring is an example of ‘hybrid vigor,’ an evolutionary theory which states that the progeny of diverse varieties within a species tend to exhibit better physical and psychological characteristics than either one or both of the parents.”

“And just take a wild guess how this idea has popped up for black people. You got it: In order to demean and oppress African Americans, thought leaders throughout history, including the likes of Thomas Jefferson, have said that black-white mixed offspring are better, more attractive, smarter, etc., than “real” blacks and not as good or attractive or smart as “real” whites, Dawkins explains.”

I would never have thought about this in this way. I don’t feel like I am insulting the parents’ race to say the mixed-race child is beautiful.

As a mother of biracial children (My husband is Asian and I am white.), I am never offended when someone comments on their skin-tone or mixed features. I have many friends with mixed-race kids and have never heard anyone object or take offense to someone saying their kids are lovely.

I do think I would be much more conscious of giving that type of compliment now.

What do you think? Does this objection surprise you? Have you ever heard anyone object to this type of compliment?

Are you a parent to mixed child? Do those types of compliments bother you?

Would you be less likely to offer that type of compliment after reading this explanation?

126 comments Add your comment

penguinmom

April 15th, 2013
1:21 am

Seriously? This just seems a little over-sensitive to me. I think mixed race kids are adorable. Blond blue-eyed kids are too. Black children are really cute. Brown haired , brown eyed children are as well. I might express the same sentiment to any of their parents. “oh, I just love (insert type of child). They are so cute”. Doesn’t mean I am saying anything bad about any other type of look.

RickInGrayson

April 15th, 2013
4:32 am

It’s only rude if it’s obviously not true.

Beck

April 15th, 2013
4:39 am

Saying one child is adorable is one thing, assuming they all are is another; that’s stereotyping, and it’s patronizing.

Quira

April 15th, 2013
4:57 am

This sounds silly. You are not always a victim. People don’t always have bad motives.

Alecia

April 15th, 2013
5:08 am

My child is bi-racial(hispanic and white). Yes, she is the cutest ;). Now, if someone starts the conversation with “You people”, it could be a rubbing point.

A reader

April 15th, 2013
5:26 am

Some people will always see racism where none exists. Biracial children have a hard enough time because they don’t really fit into either of their ethnic groups. And now some over sensitive so-called intellect wants to heap the responsibility of racism on them. Shame on Marcia Dawkins!

mom2alex&max

April 15th, 2013
5:47 am

I never thought about it that way, but the truth is that bi-racial children DO tend to be SUPER gorgeous!

I guess I’ll start keeping that opinion to myself then.

mom2alex&max

April 15th, 2013
5:49 am

Oh and T, I heard a different theory from the hybrid vigor one as to why they are so beautiful. I heard that mixed race children look the way God originally intended for humanity to look before the tower of Babel thing.

John Adams

April 15th, 2013
6:30 am

Thomas Jefferson had all sorts of red-headed mixed race children at Monticello. He said he could never figure out where they came from. Must be something in the drinking water that made their hair red.

USMC

April 15th, 2013
6:31 am

The Caucasian mother of a bi-racial child should get over her INSECURITY.
Bi-racial people(children) can tend to be attractive and exotic. Halle Berry, anybody?

Get over it!

context

April 15th, 2013
6:38 am

in the example given it sounds like the kids aren’t actually there, so in a conversation if people realize she has a bi-racial child they’re saying, “they must be so cute, because all biracial children are cute”, which is kind of a weird thing to say. it’s a different story if there’s a kid right there and someone is saying, “this child is so cute”. either way, it’s not exactly burning cross levels of outward racism or anything.

Seriously?

April 15th, 2013
6:42 am

Contrary to popular belief, racism is not rampant in every offhanded comment. I’m biracial (hispanic and white) and I firmly believe that biracial kids seem to take on only the very best traits from both parents. Saying biracial kids are adorable is not being ANTI-BLACK, it’s stating an evident truth. Stop trying to be the victim in every situation, because you’re not.

GUTRAKE

April 15th, 2013
6:49 am

Don’t you think it’s more mannerly than “half-breed”? We’re never gonna get past this racial dilemma because, as a society, we’ve devolved in a trait called “common sense”…

SomewhereinGA

April 15th, 2013
6:54 am

Good Lord…what ELSE can we choose to be hypersensitive about today? Just because I might say someone’s child is “the cutest’, why is that something to be offended or upset about? How many ways can a person choose to be a victim today? Some people (not “you people”) amaze me. Would you be offended if I said your child was as ugly as a train wreck? Damn…

Orlando

April 15th, 2013
6:58 am

Not all Bi racial kids are cute.. Lets faceit. Those with the wolly blonde hair look funny. And also, if you are white and have a bi racial child, please let someone show you how to comb their hair!!!! and before you slam me, my wife is bi racial, and her mom cut off all her hair as a child and she wore a frow. She hated it.

Humorous

April 15th, 2013
7:00 am

John Adams, you are too funny!!

Georgia

April 15th, 2013
7:05 am

“Oh? You have a bi-racial child? I’ll bet he cheats at golf.”

Joel Hutsell

April 15th, 2013
7:13 am

I am the Caucasian father of a bi-racial child (his mother is black). I have lived in predominatly white and predominatly black communities during his lifetime. Why is when most people I encounter of all races discover I have a bi-racial child they assume he is adopted? Bi-racial child are beautiful people, but the beauty goes far beyond the physical. Much of their beauty is derived from the union of two people for whom race is not an issue. Of course, there are still those who genuinely believe that bi-racial children are superior to those who are “real” blacks, asians, hispanics, etc., but it has been more than two hundred years since Thomas Jefferson and the likes have expressed such bigoted statements. I would like to think that we, as a society, have evolved at least slightly past that point. I have seen advances even during my son’s short thirteen years. Let’s keep moving in a positive direction, while keeping a watchful eye out for those who are still behind the times, ie. those who describe Halle Berry as exotic.

Charlie S.

April 15th, 2013
7:14 am

“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.’ …” Reading is so fundamental. Don’t you all remember context clues people? It wasn’t that she thought they were insulting her because they gave complements. It was saying how they MUST be adorable because they’re mixed. Whether it is true or not, it is insulting. It’s like if someone told the author of this column that “I bet your kids are all math whizzes.” Do you get it now?

TK

April 15th, 2013
7:19 am

all bi-racial kids are not cute i have seen some that have average looks and all kids are not cute except only to their parents and even some parents do not think their kids are cute that is why some girls are told to be smart and work hard to get a man

potstirrer

April 15th, 2013
7:24 am

Being bi-racial shows you that your parents could get a date from their OWN race. Must be they are either to (fil in the blank) or lazy. Personally I think your ugly and stupid..Where’s the aryran’s when we need them!!

G

April 15th, 2013
7:29 am

I am glad you clarified that Charlie, People read the article and took it out of context. That’s why we’re still having these discussions.

To Tell the Truth

April 15th, 2013
7:36 am

outspoken1

April 15th, 2013
7:41 am

I have a mixed granddaughter. It would be impossible to love her more than I do. I could not care less what other ppl think about her. I know she is the most beautiful kid in the world…I don’t need anyone to tell me that. ALTHOUGH, we NEVER go anywhere but what someone doesn’t comment about how cute or pretty she is. I LOVE being AVA’s papaw!

nypeach

April 15th, 2013
7:42 am

Damn right we biracials are cuties! Okay, I’m a little older, but I love that I am mixed (black and hispanic) and look different. Doesn’t bother me at all when people comment on how mixed kids/people are more attractive. I’ll take that to the bank all day long.

LtCol Razorback

April 15th, 2013
7:43 am

As the grandfather of four “biracial” grandchildren, (my daughter is Caucasian and her husband Hispanic), I don’t even think of them as “biracial”. To me, Hispanic is cultural – not racial. To me, Hispanics are Caucasians. My Caucasian daughter has blonde hair and blue eyes. Her Hispanic husband has darker skin, brown eyes, and black hair. Of their four offspring, one has blonde hair, blue eyes, and light skin, like her mother, one has black hair, brown eyes, and darker skin, like his father; and the other two are somewhere in between – brown hair, gray/green eyes, and tan (but not dark) skin. I also have an adopted son who is Asian – from Korea. So, my three children, from my first marriage, are a racially “mixed bag” – and it doesn’t matter either to me or to them. We are a family (or what is left of one) and we all just love each other. Race, or even culture, is irrelevant.

What difference does it make? To me (a white Anglo-Saxon protestant from Arkansas), too much attention is placed on race. I was even asked on my Georgia driver’s license if my race was Black, Asian, Hispanic, or White! This only shows the ignorance of whoever framed the question on the form – White is not a “race” – “Caucasian” is.

I also see part of our immigration problem as due to our attitude about race. Caucasian (and even Black) Americans believe that Mexicans (or Hispanics) are a different race and they are streaming across our southern border to take away “our” jobs! Baloney!!! Hispanics, from Mexico, are streaming across our borders to find whatever work they can because they can find no work in Mexico – or the work they can find pays so little they can’t support their families. To them, cleaning hotel rooms, washing cars, cutting grass, digging ditches, or putting new roofing on houses in the hot boiling sun; is good, honest work and it pays enough that they can live in the U.S. and have enough money left to send back home to their families in Mexico.

Their jobs are either too low paying or too menial for most Americans – so why do we care? We don’t want those jobs anyway – so why be concerned?

Let those who have come, legally, or illegally, stay to work the “menial jobs”, make money, and pay taxes on their incomes. If there are enough of them – maybe they can help to pay down our budget deficit!!

Paul From Milton

April 15th, 2013
7:46 am

This article sums up why I can’t wait to move as far away from Atlanta as I possibly can.

Mayhem

April 15th, 2013
7:53 am

I have 3 mixed kids. Yes they are beautiful, but I’m biased…LOL.

There are 5 mixed girls across the street from us. Another neighbor has mixed nieces and nephews. I have several friends with mixed kids. Not just black and white, my best male friend is mexican (legal, he was born in California) and his wife is as white as they come (red hair, very fair skin), and their two boys are beautiful. One looks just like his dad (dark skin and hair), the other looks just like Mom, he even has red hair. Very cool.

I think anyone who is offended about their babies being called “Cute” needs some serious psychological attention.

I will admit my parents, especially Mom, had a very hard time with me being with a black man, in the beginning. But they have come to love him, and accept him as one of their own. We’ve been married over 30 years. It hasn’t been easy, but we are still here, and we have a beautiful family, and tons of friends of all races.

Grady Alum

April 15th, 2013
7:54 am

some people just can not take a compliment. Stop being so negative, and the race card has been played way too much.

Common Sebse Ain't Common

April 15th, 2013
7:56 am

I don’t expect white people to understand. The standard of beauty has always been European features& up until like last week when white women started getting excessive tans, lip injections, & butt implants. But if you look on tv, almost all black kids you see in commercials & on shows are bi-racial. They’ll be just brown enough to be black, but they won’t have nappy hair like most people of African descent. & yes, Halle Berry is very beautiful & bi-racial, but she’s had several surgeries to reduce her big African nose

AJC is race obsessed

April 15th, 2013
8:04 am

Paul from Milton, You are dead on !

I’ve lived here 27 years and everything about Atlanta and especially the AJC revolves around race. Whether it be biracial children, segregated proms, the state flag, MARTA, the carving on Stone Mountain, the APS cheating scandal to whether or not the Braves have enough African-American players on their roster.

Ten more years I’m outta here, along with all the taxes I have to pay !

Orlando

April 15th, 2013
8:06 am

@paul, Delta is waiting.,.
Also @ LtCol, would you have that same mindset if your family were not affected by this?

Me

April 15th, 2013
8:06 am

Moving on — Nothing to see here — Just more potentially benign comments being perceived incorrectly due to being over sensitive.

globeflyer

April 15th, 2013
8:09 am

Maybe the city should change it’s slogan from “The City too busy to hate”, to “With us, it’s (race) always a factor”.

zeke

April 15th, 2013
8:18 am

EXACTLY, globeflyer! Atlanta is all about race! Only race! Nothing but race! And, it is approaching the likes of Detroit, Cleveland and others for failing!

AtlantaNative

April 15th, 2013
8:19 am

If you look at South Africa, the mixed kids who are adults now are entirely different than the majority of the black population and would prefer white leadership. Would Obama of grown up to be president if not for his WHITE grandparents teaching him values? I doubt it.
Yes some mixed kids are cute, but MAN have i seen some UGLY mixed kids working in gasstations around Atlanta, they look like cheetas with like black skin and white spots!

zeke

April 15th, 2013
8:20 am

Sorry, but, there is nothing cute about biracial children! To neither community!

bgb

April 15th, 2013
8:23 am

3 racial barbie blogs in a week. I didn’t realize that this was such an important topic with “busy moms”.

“AJC is race obsessed” is 100% correct. The AJC (and its UGA journalism grads) is a lazy paper that strives to get hits by trying to stir up racial commentary in the most benign areas – AND they don’t even write the articles (copy, paste, put a couple of poorly written sentences with spelling errors in).

This blog is demeaning to “busy moms”.

LtCol Razorback

April 15th, 2013
8:24 am

@Orlando – the answer is that I don’t know.

However, I spent 24 years in the Air Force working with white people, black people, yellow people, and red people – and I have yet to see a dimes worth of difference between any of them. So, I suspect my answer is that my family is only partially the reason for my belief and it would be the same whether or not my family has “bi-racial” members in it.

MixedNutso

April 15th, 2013
8:25 am

im so ultra sick of political correctness in America. If people wanna be idiots saying insensitive things… let them be. As long as I’m not the un-educated buffon – Who Cares -????
Everyone is always so apprehensive about what other people say to them… if a black person says something insensitive about blacks they get a pass bcause they are black. If a white person says something insentive about whites, they get a pass because they are white… same for all races… the vicepresident makes insensitive comments about blacks, he gets a pass because he is President Obama’s right hand… WTH?
If we judge the level of offense we take based on the appearance of the one who says it, arent we being jjust as rude?
Get a grip and maximize your life away from the pettiness of other people’s rudeness.

AtlantaNative

April 15th, 2013
8:27 am

Im a white guy with a beautiful black girlfriend. Im a proud Arayan and proud of my races accomplishments unlike alot of self-hating liberals! If i do have mixed kids with my gf, i might try and get them labeled white on their birth certificate. Not that i think white is better than black, but blacks make up 2 many excuses of why they cant succeed, and cry “racism” so often it makes you stop listening or caring what people think.
The only advantage i can think of to getting them labeled “black” on their certificate is more college scholarships. Hey.. .just a white guy keeping it real. Or can only blacks do that? Ps.. i dont care bc im not a pansy liberal.

Clayton County

April 15th, 2013
8:29 am

Tara Boulevard reminds me of Gone With The Wind which reminds me of slavery which reminds me of RACISM !

Rename Tara Boulevard !

Grow Up

April 15th, 2013
8:31 am

Lord – can we find something newsworthy. Zeke – you’re a GD idiot. When I see kids who ARE CUTE – I always say that little boy or little girl is just too cute.

AMEN!AMEN!AMEN!AMEN – Globeflyer.

I totally agree – I have a cousin who has ALL biracial children and all of them are NOT cute. Again we as people need to deal with our insecurities and issues. My sister is biracial but we don’t refer to her as such.

I was in Basic Training with a girl who made it a point to let ALL OF US KNOW SHE WAS BIRACIAL. She had the nappiest hair I had ever seen on a biracial person. Her mom was White and father Black, Again it’s the person/people with the issues.

i LOVE...

April 15th, 2013
8:32 am

I have a tendency to say a biracial child is gorgeous (just because he/she is biracial) not as a racist comment but (in my mind) to make the parent feel more confident. Let me explain: My small mountain hometown is majority white. There are still yearly KKK meetings at the town square!! Racism is alive and well in our community, and when a mother has a biracial child, the baby attracts stares. Maybe it is quite assumptive of me, but I like to compliment the baby in order to make the mom feel comfortable in situations where she may be getting stares from the locals. On top of that, I really do think a biracial child is adorable!! Well, not at adorable as my baby (he is the most perfect little thing in the world! lol!), but I love to see how traits of parents are passed to their babies…especially when the parents are of different races/ethnicities. I LOVE that we are all different. I like to celebrate it. But after this, I will definitely rethink my intentions when I compliment a biracial child.

Really!

April 15th, 2013
8:33 am

The most important thing about people (children included) is their character. I find it sad that we are talking about people based only on their looks. A real friend looks with their heart not their eyes.

i LOVE...

April 15th, 2013
8:34 am

I should say…I will rethink my intentions before I compliment ANY child.

oneofeach4me

April 15th, 2013
8:34 am

I personally don’t think she should have been offended. Sometimes people just say things to converse. In addition, it could also just be a reaction to having no clue that you had interracial kids. Than again, it could be how the individual actually sees biracial children.

You cannot expect everyone to understand that life for biracial kids is not always glits and glamour even though their features and looks may make them “exotic” to some. For example, my children are bi-racial (I am white, dad is African American) and both of my sisters also have bi-racial children the same race mix as mine. My children took on more traits of their father with darker skin and curlier hair. Unfortunately, their cousins are treated better and are favored with family members due to them being lighter and having “more mixed textured” hair. It’s hard for bi-racial kids, but in no way would I consider that comment as being offensive. I would be more focused on the REAL issues.

Out There

April 15th, 2013
8:34 am

Oh. My. God. Please, get a life.

LtCol Razorback

April 15th, 2013
8:36 am

@AtlantaNative – If Obama is an example of the product of a biracial BLACK family upbringing – it demonstrates that the product of that type of family is INFERIOR – not Superior – to the product of a biracial WHITE family – or of any other type of biracial family! :)

Techmom

April 15th, 2013
8:40 am

I have never told someone their child was cute or beautiful unless I really thought so… which of course means I would have to see the child and not make some conjecture simply because he/she is biracial.

One of my good friends is white and married to a black guy. Their children are absolutely gorgeous and I tell her that all the time (because they are). She always jokes about how pale she is and I have jokingly told her it was a good thing she married a black guy so she didn’t pass that pasty-pale skin onto her children. Her response was, “No kidding!”. I wonder what black people say to them about their children though… Is it only white people who appreciate her children’s looks or do black people as well?

She has said to me before that most black women do not like her and she often gets rude looks from black women when they’re out as a family. She says there’s sort of a feeling among black women that white women are “stealing” all the good, black men and that it’s taken years for his family to accept her. To me, passing along some feeling that black men have to marry black women to perpetuate their race is more racially biased than saying someone’s bi-racial kids are cute.

TWG – did your husband’s family always accept you or was there ever a notion from his family that he should marry within his race?