In a new series of articles, black women living in Europe share their views from the inside. In our fourth article, Twaambo Kapilikisha addresses sisters in Europe with children “in the middle”.
Twitter is an interesting place,where mere mortals can connect with celebrities and get a message to them directly, a place where the masses gather for different causes,good and bad ones.
I was a witness to some recent twitter backlash towards a singer who tweeted another singer about the fact that they were both half African (They each had one parent from a certain African country)
That was not taken too well with some of the citizens of said country.
They sent her lots of mean tweets, going on about her not being able to properly pronounce her last name, tweeting things like ‘Oh you’re one of us now are you?’
The artist was indeed shocked and could not believe how mean people were being!
I remember when this artist was hot on the charts, she did acknowledge her African side, but seemed not to identify too much with it and could not.
This got me thinking about how we are raising our children far away from where we were born.
There is a large number of women, living in countries where they were not born, married to men of a different citizenship, culture and sometimes colour.
These amazing women have uprooted themselves,l eft the familiar and set up homes away from the home that they knew.
They have accomplished things their mothers only dreamed about, have access to what some women in their homelands only fantasize about.
They have beautiful children or are planning on having children.
Sometimes these children have a hard time with their identity. Not only because there is an obvious difference in how they look in comparison to the rest of the kids at school, but because sometimes no matter how much they try to fit in, they may not be accepted as a real part of the culture.
A lot of children feel they are in no man’s land. Born in a country that one of their parents was not born in, in a land where Mummy has had to adjust to as well. A land where she has embraced a new culture but still in some ways holds on to her own.
She may give them names that she believes will help her children fit in more, shying from her own traditional name that gets shredded to pieces while being pronounced every day. She may work on getting them to join clubs, sports and associations that will keep them grounded and rooted in that culture. This is fantastic, nobody wants their child shunned or sticking out like a sore thumb.
I do believe it is important though to take a brave step and educate them about where you are from.
Where is it? Who are your parents? What games did you play when you were a little girl?
How are you teaching them to celebrate where YOU are from?
Is your child proud to say he/she has a parent that is from a different nation? Could your child say that she has visited been there is in touch with extended family? Could she have a story to tell about that place?
This middle ground is not exclusive for a child that is mixed race. I know someone that is half German and half French and born and raised in Germany.
When in Germany everyone calls him the ‘French guy’, when in France he is the ‘German guy’. He has admitted to feeling he does not belong anywhere and has come to accept it. He has done a good job of shrugging it off and enjoying both sides of his heritage. Finding a good spot in being knowledgeable about both sides of his parentage and embracing the fact that yes, he is a mix and loves both, celebrates both and can adapt on either side. Granted Germany and France are not that far away from each other, but that is the point exactly!
How are we preparing our children to deal with being in the middle with regards to their heritage? How do we tie in the two?
As for the singer that suffered the twitter massacre, in her defense, its not her fault she never visited when she was younger, its not her fault she could not relate. She may have never been taught to.
Teach your children to embrace every side of their heritage, if they choose to walk away from it that is their choice, but you are equipping them with a powerful weapon. Being able to empathize, relate to people from all walks of life. Most of all to live more comfortably and lovingly in the middle.
Twaambo Kapilikisha who has discovered she has a knack for radio is a on a personal writing and speaking journey of discovery. She enjoys exploring the different facets of women and exploring life by asking questions, through her blogs www.thebookwormgiraffe.blogspot.de and www.mukaintu.blogspot.de. You can also listen to her radio show called Diasporan Truth on www.zambiablogtalkradio.com where her intention is to engage Zambians in the diaspora to mobilise and bring positive change to Zambia.
Next month Kendra Williams-Valentine learns to love strawberries.