Do you remember the Benetton print ads in the late ’80s where they showed models of various races right next to one another? I remember vividly how each model’s skin color and features were often a stark, and sometimes shocking, contrast to the one he was next to. It was pretty shocking back then and I recall how often people talked about Benetton’s daring positioning of its clothing line.
These days, we are not shocked by these types of images. And though racial relations may be far from perfect, I think that we still have come a long way. I am glad that my girls are growing up in a time where they do not need to be extremely self-conscious about the fact that they are biracial and multicultural.
Except for a few occasions, my girls are usually okay speaking French with my husband. They do not feel the embarrassment of having a parent speak to them in a language other than English…at least not yet anyway. They do not smirk if my Ipod starts playing a Filipino song, or a Brazilian or Italian song for that matter.
I think one of the things that helped them feel comfortable in their own skin and not to be fazed completely by something culturally different is reading books from all over the world. My husband and I try to expose them to childhood tales from around the world. Most importantly, we try to make sure that they have lots of French and Filipino books at home that they can read.
I want my girls to fully embrace their American identity but I think that it’s pretty important for them to know their heritage and their background. There’s an old Filipino adage that says “He who does not look back at where he came from will never reach his future destination.” I can’t agree more!