How Will Your Children Racially Identify Themselves

In the last six years of my marriage, my husband and I have done what we can to blend two cultures. We have asked loved ones for advice and observed to see how other interracial families did it. We wanted to glean everything we could because blending cultures has always been extremely important to us. We wanted to try and have a lot of it figured out before we had kids.

We had our first child a few days before our second year anniversary. We still had so much to learn about bringing two cultures to one family. We realized we would learn it along the way. We would learn how to blend cultures as our family grew.

We have learned so much since we were married. We’ve learned a lot about traditions, cultural expectations, where to have grace, where to give a little, but we are still pondering one thing in regards to our children. How will our children identify themselves racially?

We now have three biracial children, three little boys who are half Indian and half white. Their racial identity has come up a few times as they’ve begun to ask questions about life. My oldest son asked me why he wasn’t black like daddy or white like mommy. I had to explain to him that he’s both. He’s so special that he has a little bit of mommy and daddy in him. After that, he loved going around to people telling them that he is a little bit of mommy and daddy!

It came up again this year. My husband, kids, and I went to go and see my husband’s side of the family. Every one was excited because we had recently had another little boy. No one had met him yet and they couldn’t wait to get in some baby cuddles. When we got there, our little guy was instantly handed over. Everyone started calling him our little Indian boy. They said that he looked the most Indian out of all of our kids and deemed him the little Indian boy.

I didn’t think anything of it at first. I agreed! Out of all of our kids, he looked the most Indian. He has the sharp little nose, dark skin, and beautiful dark eyes. The more it happened, I started to realize something stood up inside of me when they said that. He isn’t just Indian. He’s white and Indian. He’s both. He’s a beautiful blend of both.

That’s when it hit me. Our children will be faced with a choice. The day will come when our children have to racially identify themselves. What will they say? Will they choose a race to simplify and avoid questions? Will they choose the race they identify with the most? Or will they say they are mixed?

Their response will depend on the way we raise them. If we allow a competition between races to occur, they will be prompted to choose one. If they are embarrassed about being different, they will choose one.

We, as their parents, shape how our children see themselves. We have to raise our children in an environment where the cultures in their lives don’t compete; rather they complement each other. You can’t try to make your culture more important than your spouse’s. We have to show them the beauty of the cultures in their lives.

We do this through hands-on experience. We make food from both cultures, although we try to make more Indian food at home because they are exposed to American food everywhere they go. We dance around in our house to Bollywood and American music. We watch movies from both cultures. Some of our favorites are Bollywood musicals because our kids copy the dance moves! We take our children to different Indian festivals in town. We take our children to art museums to learn about history. We want them to see the beauty of each culture and become passionate about them both.

Each family may have a different preference when it comes to how their children racially identify themselves. In our family, it’s very important that our children embrace both of their cultures. When the time comes and they have to racially identify themselves, we want them to proudly say, “I’m White and Indian.”

You have to talk about this as a family. How do you want your children to racially identify themselves? Do you want them to blend cultures, choose a culture, or something new? Your decision needs to shape the way you teach your children.

Brittany Muddamalle is the mother of three boys under four years old. She has been in an intercultural marriage for six years. Her and her husband are currently raising their children in American and East Indian culture. She is also the writer of The Almost Indian Wife blog. Her hope is to make a change by sharing her experiences with her own intercultural marriage and raising biracial children.

Check out her blog: The Almost Indian Wife                                                      Facebook Twitter Google+ 

Blended Families

What does it mean to call a family blended? The term still refers to families formed after divorce and remarriage—step-parents and step-children and step-siblings pieced together in new patterns. The term can also encompass families that are interracial; in these families, blending takes on additional permutations that certainly have puzzled some throughout history.

Like other interracial families, those that are also blended through remarriage contend with external assumptions and judgments—the confused looks and questioning glances, the “ah-ha” moments or oblivious denial. When I was married to my daughter’s father—who, like me, has both a black and a white parent—I slipped into the ease of relative inconspicuousness for the first time in my life. Raised with my white mother, I had experienced the questions about whether I was adopted and had felt defensive about my own belonging. In my marriage, though, I was able to take for granted that others saw and accepted where I belonged. Releasing the guardedness I felt when I needed to defend my familial place, I nevertheless felt an alternative defensiveness that many “blended” families and people of color feel in mainly white communities.

Now that I’m divorced and partnered with a white man, I feel the return of my childhood alertness to others’ assumptions about my family. Blessedly, our society in general and our community in particular do seem to have come a long way since Loving v. Virginia, but none of us can believe that racism is eradicated or that interracial unions are always accepted with open arms and open minds. My partner and I have had only one obviously racist experience in our two years together, and thankfully it was subtle, but I don’t kid myself that the obvious incident we experienced was all we’ll ever encounter.

As we slowly blend our families, I’m watchful of additional experiences we might have—of hostile or benign racism—and how our children might be affected. Of course, I also must ask myself if my very watchfulness amplifies negative experiences or even turns neutral ones into negative. On one occasion when my partner took my daughter out for ice cream, a woman asked him if my daughter was his, noting his whiteness and her brownness. “Sadly, no,” he replied smiling, meaning that he would be proud to be her biological father in addition to feeling like a parent to her. The woman then proceeded to comment on how lovely my daughter looks, how “Indian.” Hmm.

I wonder, too, the experiences I might have on occasions when I’m with his twins, one of whom is a freckled, blue-eyed, red-headed beauty and the other an as-yet smaller version of his imposing father. Will people assume I’m a nanny? Hmm.

I wonder in which configurations we’ll have our familial status silently questioned or vocally challenged. When David is with my daughter, will his belonging somehow be allowed, if not assumed, due to his whiteness and maleness? Will my belonging be overlooked when I’m with his children because of my brown femaleness? And when the five of us are together, what will people see? What, if anything, will they say?

Ever the optimist, I’m hoping people will see a happy family, not unlike most other families, regardless of race or marital history. It’s a utopian vision, surely, but I also hope people will allow us to reflect back to them a certain level of social awareness, acceptance, growth. Blended families really aren’t such a novelty, and ultimately it’s that simple fact I hope people see.

IMG_4147_2Tru Leverette works as an Associate Professor of English at the University of North Florida where she teaches African-American literature and serves as director of African-American/African Diaspora Studies. Her research interests broadly include race and gender in literature and culture, and she focuses specifically on critical mixed race studies. Her most recent work has been published in Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora and the edited collections Other Tongues: Mixed Race Women Speaking Out and The Search for Wholeness and Diaspora Literacy in Contemporary African-American Literature. She served as a Fulbright Scholar at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, during the Winter 2013 term.

Teaching Children to be Proud of their Cultures

I’m realizing more and more how much we all want to blend in. We like the idea of being unique and one of a kind, but we also want to be accepted by social standards. A little unique is ok, but too much is just weird.

Schools are even starting to feed into this “let’s all be the same” philosophy. They don’t want people to stand out as being the best or the worst at anything. I’ve even seen schools that give out medals to everyone on a sports team so no one feels like they didn’t do a good job. What about the person that did the best?

People are scared to let kids feel different. They want them all to feel the same so they don’t risk the child that doesn’t feel like they fit in.

My husband and I don’t want to teach this to our children. They are different. They aren’t like all the kids around them. They are unique. They are biracial. They are Indian and Caucasian.

This “let’s all be the same” mentality teaches kids to stifle what makes them special. I want my kids to celebrate what makes them unique. I want them to be so proud of these differences that they share it with all their friends.

Instead of asking ourselves, “How can we make sure our kids fit in?” let’s ask ourselves, “How can we help our kids to be proud of who they are?”

My husband’s cousin taught me this lesson a few years ago. He had been teased in his elementary school about being different. His friends were teasing him because his mother came to school in Indian clothes. He had a choice right then. He had the choice to be embarrassed and hope his friends would forget about the incident or he could stand up for himself.

Can you guess what he chose to do?

He went home that night and told his mom that he needed to wear Indian clothes to school the next day! His friends were pointing out a huge difference in his life. His mother is East Indian, which means he is different than his friends at school. He is Caucasian and East Indian. He had piles of Indian clothes for all of his Indian events. He, by no means, needed to do anything. He could have ignored them. Instead he decided to take pride and show off something special to him.

The next day at school, he wore his handsome Indian clothes. Instead of being mocked by his friends, they all surrounded him and said how cool he looked!

So what did his parents do? How in the world did they raise their child to be proud of his heritage?

They made sure both cultures were present in his life on a daily basis.

If you want a child to be proud of their culture, they first have to understand it. You need to teach them the values and traditions of both cultures in their life.

My husband’s aunt and uncle taught their child what type of Indian clothes to wear to different events, how to eat Indian food with his hands, the correct Indian/American names to call relatives, American/Indian holidays, famous food from both cultures, Telugu/English, and so much more.

As he learned about both cultures, he started to understand what made them special.

They shared what they love about both cultures. 

He also learned what made each culture special to his parents.

His mom shared memories she had from growing up in India. She was able to bring it to life when she took him to India and gave him hands on experience. It wasn’t just a story for him; he was able to see the mango trees from her childhood, taste the food, ride in a rickshaw with his whole family, nap in the middle of the day due to the heat, and attempt to speak Telugu to his new friends.

His dad has also been able to bring him back to his home-town. While there he has shown him his favorite places to eat, schools he attended as a child, his family home, and meet his friends.

As his parents have shared their childhood and cultures with him, he has been able to experience them both first hand. Those memories turn into his own passion for not only their culture, but his.

As a child starts to fall in love with their culture, they start to realize how special it makes them. They are able to take something their parents hold dear to them and see what it means to them. They start to see how their cultures have made them into the person they are becoming.

How have you taught your child to be proud of their culture?

almostindianwife@gmail.comBrittany Muddamalle is the mother of three boys under four years old. She has been in an intercultural marriage for six years. Her and her husband are currently raising their children in American and East Indian culture. She is also the writer of The Almost Indian Wife blog. Her hope is to make a change by sharing her experiences with her own intercultural marriage and raising biracial children.

Check out her blog: The Almost Indian Wife                                                      Facebook Twitter Google+ 

Chicken Tikka Masala

My husband and I are coming up on our six year anniversary. It’s been a whirlwind for us. In the last six years we have moved to two different states, had three boys, and daily attempt to navigate our family through two cultures. I’m a Whitey from the Pacific Northwest and my husband is an East Indian from Chicago.

We have a few things that make up our foundation and helps to hold us together. Two of those things are our love of food and family. This is one of the things I love about Indian culture. It’s all about both of those things!

My husband and I love sharing Indian dishes with my side of the family. It’s a simple way we can teach them about a culture other than their own.

The first dish we showed my family was Chicken Tikka Masala. I haven’t met anyone that doesn’t like this dish! It’s incredibly easy to make. It just takes a little love and a few hours in the kitchen. When my family tried it, we took it a step further and taught them how to eat with their hands!



  1. 1 lb of diced chicken breasts
  2. 2 small cans of tomato paste
  3. 2 garlic cloves
  4. 2-3 tbs olive oil or ghee
  5. 1 Shan chicken tikka bbq packet
  6. 1 tbs methi leaves
  7. 1-2 tsp chili powder
  8. 1-2 cups of plain yogurt
  9. 1/2 quart heavy whipping cream
  10. optional- extra yogurt, basmati rice, naan



  1. Dice up the chicken and combine it with the Shan mix and yogurt in a bowl. Marinate it for 3 hours or overnight.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Put your chicken on a deep cookie sheet and bake it until your chicken is cooked through.
  3. Heat a pan on medium low heat. Add in the olive oil and diced garlic. After about 5 minutes, add in the tomato paste, methi leaves, and chili powder. Cook for about 10 minutes.
  4. Slowly add in the heavy cream, while stirring. Turn the sauce to the lowest setting. When the chicken is done, add it to your sauce.


A little family secret, just for you. You can add the extra liquid on the cookie sheet to the sauce and chicken mixture or keep it in a small bowl for people that like the heat to add to their dish. We call it “man sauce” in our house.

Serve this with rice and or naan.


almostindianwife@gmail.comBrittany Muddamalle is the mother of three boys under four years old. She has been in an intercultural marriage for six years. Her and her husband are currently raising their children in American and East Indian culture. She is also the writer of The Almost Indian Wife blog. Her hope is to make a change by sharing her experiences with her own intercultural marriage and raising biracial children.

Check out her blog: The Almost Indian Wife                                                      Facebook Twitter Google+ 

Sharing stories through Cooking!

Food!  It has a way of gathering people….families….friends…communities.  Many favorite recipes are accompanied by a story that has been passed down through the generations. A recent blog post, Cooking Genes: Our Culinary Legacy on the Narrative Network, talks about the mixing of recipes that are brought from two different cultures in an a multiracial family. The author’s mother “loved to say that our food was delicious because we were a “mixed-up” family!”

This year Gloria Govan and Marlena Attinasi published A Mixed Girls Favorite Recipes.

A Mixed Girls Favorite Recipies

“This cookbook is a collection of recipes that Gloria Govan and Marlena Attinasi have developed over the years of entertaining and raising their children. The Book is a sampling of our favorite recipes that are from the flavors of the cultures of our childhood, African American, Mexican and Italian. Some of the recipes we have named after our family members to honor them, as they have been an influence in our cooking styles and why we love food and entertaining. We are passionate about family and food being the center of every gathering. ” Find out more about the authors and order their book on their website


New Book for Grandmothers with Multiracial Families

Grandmothering: Real Life in Real Families is a new book by Becky Sarah (Child Development Specialist, midwife and childbirth educator, Public Health Director for the City of Chelsea, MA and, most importantly, Grandmother).  The book offers practical advice to women whose grandchildren’s worlds are very different from the ones they themselves grew up in. The section on Multiracial Families includes references to Loving v. Virginia, the one-drop rule, and why stating that you’re “Colorblind” is not helpful to young children (or anyone, for that matter). Mixed Roots Stories is also very proud to be included as a resource. Take a moment to read the synopsis and reviews on Amazon, and if you enjoy it as much as we do – add it to your collection and to your gift-giving list.