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Does Anybody Else Look Like Me?: A Parent's Guide To Raising Multiracial Children Paperback – March 31, 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The author, a freelance writer, is from a western European background, while her husband is Japanese American. Although Nakazawa initially hoped to raise her son and daughter to be "color blind," they couldn't ignore the many comments made by both adults and children concerning Christian and Claire's appearance. When Christian was a toddler he was asked if he spoke Chinese, and the author was assured that little Claire didn't "even look Asian." Nakazawa decided to develop strategies to ensure that her son and daughter would be proud of their heritage and confident about their multiracial identity. Finding no useful book on the subject, she decided to write her own. Based on personal experience and interviews conducted with 60 other multiracial families, Nakazawa has skillfully combined anecdotal research with a strong knowledge of childhood and educational development philosophy to provide this useful guide for raising multiracial children in a color- and race-conscious world. Nakazawa believes that, although most three-year-olds are not racially aware, it is important to deflect insensitive comments from strangers about appearance. As a child grows older, this early dialogue should deepen, so that children will feel safe and comfortable discussing their racial identity with parents and be able to bring up any racially charged experiences that have occurred at school or with friends. Included are suggestions for the special problems that may arise during adolescence.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Nakazawa has skillfully combined anecdotal research with a strong knowledge of childhood and educational development philosophy to provide this useful guide."
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By the time I finished reading this book, I had a weird, uncomfortable feeling. Something seemed off. If a monoracial parent asked me to recommend a book on multiraciality - I'm sorry to say I wouldn't recommend this one. The actual, authentic voices of multiracial peoples are not well represented here. An instruction manual written by a White woman on how to raise children of color is ultimately very treacherous. For instance, Nakazawa offers specific race wording and phrasing for interacting with children, often citing herself as a role model/example. Putting words in someone's mouth feels like robbing them of their own unique voice. It denies them the opportunity to discover their own language and potentially invalidates their specific cultures/worldview. And I have to say, as a woman of color, I reacted poorly to being given race scripts by a member of the dominant racial class.
Unfortunately there is also some misinformation about early learning and race. "Race," Nakazawa claims, "Is really a grown-up notion that is meaningless to the vast majority of preschoolers" (12). In fact, this is not true. There is more and more research indicating young children are actually very aware of race and often masters of racial relationships by as young as 3 years (See "The First R: How Children Learn Race and Racism" by Debra Van Ausdale & Joe R. Feagin, also "Anti-Bias Education for Young Children and Ourselves" by Louise Derman-Sparks & Julie Olsen Edwards).
And finally, I don't think Nakazawa addresses in a poignant way the reality of race and the necessity of parents addressing their own biases/stereotypes. How can we expect our children to converse intelligently on race and feel good about their racial identities if we cannot do so ourselves? For example, she is very optimistic about the future suggesting multiracial children are the end of race. This is a view that has come into great question these days as symptomatic of a "Postracial Era" apathy. Now that we have a Black multiracial president, we must not be racist anymore, right? She doesn't mention the troublesome trend of school resegregation that has unfolded in the last couple decades (see "Can We Talk about Race?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD). Also, she tiptoes around the need for White parents to address and acknowledge the painful truth of White privilege. Possibly because this would bring into deep question her authority in writing a book on the experience of multiracial people.
If this book had been entitled, "Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A White Parent's Guide to Raising Multiracial Children", I would have been a lot happier with it. I still would have bought it (I have a White mother) AND I would have recommended it. I certainly think Nakazawa has offered us something here. But I am critical of her perspective. As it stands, I would highly suggest to parents of multiracial children seeking guidance to look for texts written by multiracial people themselves. Here are some great examples:
"Multiracial Child Resource Book: Living Complex Identities" (MAVIN) ed. Maria P. P. Root & Matt Kelley
"Half Asian 100% Hapa" & "Mixed" by Kip Fulbeck
"What Are You? Voices of Mixed Race Young People" ed. Pearl Fuyo Gaskins
"Half + Half: Writers on Biracial and Bicultural" by Claudine C. O'Hearn
"Mixed: An Anthology of Short Fiction on the Multiracial Experince" ed. Chandra Prassad
"Standing on Both Feet: Voices of Older Mixed-Race Americans" by Cathy J. Tashiro
There you will learn about the real, lived lives of multiracial peoples. Hearing their testimonials will inform you and help you understand your children better.
For more please visit http://multiasianfamilies.blogspot.com/