27 Oct 2011

Boxing You In

Disclaimer: This post was written more than two months ago, but after I wrote it I didn’t feel like publishing it, because it is LONG and quite personal. But recently talking to my younger he told me about his experience when he was little. He feels he was wronged at school. He asked me (translated from Italian) “Why a child must be mistreated only because is different colour?… The difference between a child and an adult… is the possibility {for the adult} to defend himself or herself, meaning how does a child know about lawyers… how does a child of seven {years old} know what is wrong and what is right???”

I feel time has come for me to click the publish button.


As the weeks roll near the end of my pregnancy I dread the days when people will “box” my child.  I dread the days when society will not let my child be a free entity but will force the boxing ideology into her/his life.  Boxed, that’s a good word to help express my emotions!  The dictionary defines to be boxed in as: “enclosed in, closed in or surrounded or included within”. As a black woman, married to a white man, I feel that society will try to enclose my child as they please.boxed {via}

And this aspect of motherhood scares me.

As a child and even as an adult, people have tried many times to “box” me in.  Although at times I fight against being boxed around, sometimes I question if I am really free from all the boxing? When you've been enclosed in for so long it is difficult to break away from your prison box without people making you feel like you are different.

Few years ago, I was talking to this guy about how to budget money and plan for one’s future. After my point of view he commented “Mame (a Ghanaian affectionate term for a female), you talk sense. You know? You talk like a white person.” I was offended and shocked. My blood boiled. If he wanted to speak in colours then why couldn’t he recognise that I am a clever black woman? Why always associate cleverness to whiteness {I write this based on other comments from other people}? I said “I don’t talk like a white person, I speak like me, TOI!”   

His words threw me in the loop although I was able to defend myself.  My child, I am afraid may not have the words to defend herself or himself.  Words are easily used without knowing the origin and for what purpose our ‘ancestors’ used it for. I know that in certain places black and mix-race children are called all kinds of nasty names. I know I will always try my best to protect my child from many things but I don’t think I can protect him/her at the play ground. When nasty kids will call her/him awful names because their parents didn’t teach them better.

I believe my worry is accentuated by the fact that a well known English historian, David Starkey, commented “There has been a profound change… the white have become black”, when he was interviewed about the reasons behind the August 2011 riots in London, England. He went on to equate black culture to violence, gangsterism, nihilism and destruction. He concluded that young black and white kids operate in a false language like the Jamaican patwa which has ‘intruded’ into England; and many of ‘them’ – David Starkey’s sort – feel like they are living in a foreign country. He pointed out that black culture is not about skin colour but ‘cultural’. He went so far as to state that if you close your eyes and listen to David Lammy, a successful black British politician, you would think he was white.

The pity, aside from the black community being boxed-in, is that Starkey is part of those who tend to have power over historical books and TV programs which blatantly stereotype against black culture. The English riots happened not because of a cultural shift, but mainly because there is a great divide in the social and economic distribution in the world. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. It is easy to blame the situation on culture to mask the real issues.

My child will be born into this high intense racial era in the media and society.  As a proud black Ghanaian woman, married to a white British man, I don’t want my mixed-cultural child to refuse her black Ghanaian heritage due to what the media promotes {I know it won’t happen, but who knows}. I am dark skinned.  I have curves.  I have natural locks and full lips. I speak with an accent. Her father is light skinned, has blond hair, blue eyes and fine lips. He speaks with an accent.  All these different traits will converge in my child’s make-up. 

The popular image the media and society will teach her is white is beautiful and desired. And I will point out her black side is also beautiful and desired.  I will show her/him that black culture is more than simple hip-hop, consumerism and gangster ideology. I will teach her that black culture has great literature, music (jazz, blues, easy listening…), arts, great politicians and human right activists. ama-tile-horz

My greatest wish for my baby is to not let people push her/him into a preconceived box. But knowing how most human beings reason in our society, someone will try {like it happened to me, my sister and brother growing up in the West)!  And when that happens, I would have done my best to teach my little one good values including, loving who she/he is {identity and culture}. Never accepting the box but pushing and fighting against it and just being herself/himself – human!

Few days ago my brother had to stand up for himself because he was accused by one of his housemates for something he never did. The landlady without asking his version of the facts sent him an eviction note, this was a form of discrimination. While we were talking he said “… you have the most beautiful thing in this world in your womb… and the first thing I will teach her/him is to forgive those who don’t know…”

There may be many words swimming around in my mind but the one that stands out right now is LOVE.

The love I have for this little child I have yet to meet.  My emotions may be high, my thoughts rampant.  But my heart is at peace as I feel the butterflies in my stomach.  I know what is going on in the world at this moment but for now, I am glad my little Berry is safely “boxed” in, loved, and protected within my womb.

Question: Have you ever felt ‘boxed’ in?


  1. I completely understand how you feel. I too am an African American female married to a white male and we dicussed this issue before we had children. Fortunatley we live in an area where that is very culturally diverse and there also more than a fair share of mixed race people. Many of our couple friends are also interracial (by coincendence- we didn't necessarily look for interacial couples to be friends with) as well. I'm sure we will teach our children to embrace both cultures and how to deal with criticism.

  2. it's scary how people and the world can turn something so beautiful into something so ugly..i hope you and the hubby are able to surround your baby with love and understanding and that will shine it back to him/her. hubby and i worry not because our baby will be biracial but because they will be dark skin and the things the prejudices they will experience because of this! the world is such a juxtaposition of ugly and beautiful!
    lovely post and so beautifully written...thank you for sharing!

  3. Great post, beautifully written!

  4. What a wonderful post! It does make me sad at times that there are so many ignorant people in the world. I hope that Berry has nothing but positive experiences once out of the womb!

  5. Some people like to think we live in a post-racial society, but things are more intense as you said. I think you will find a way to raise your child to embrace both sides of his/her heritage without conforming to societal expectations. At the end of the day, we have to be who we are and not what people want us to be

  6. This is such a strong and powerful post! Thank you so much for sharing with us. Ignorance is really the root of all evil and hatred. I have definitely felt boxed in at times in my life. And I also fear for my one day child. It's actually something that's made me put off having a child this long...

  7. My son isn't even mixed and he started to say he wished he were white and in talking, he went on to describe all the negativity in black people and all the positivity in white people. Me and my husband were appalled!! We talked to him for days after that and showed him positivity in who he is. I wanted to write a post about it too but didn't know how to approach it. I loved the way you wrote this.

  8. wow, what a moving post. so beautifully written. i completely understand where you are coming from. i have felt boxed in too. i have also been told that i speak like a white person, i have been told that i am beautiful for a black woman and always those comments catch me off guard. i can't believe that in this day and age there are still so many ignorant people in this world that just don't know better. saddens my heart.

    my children will also be of mixed race and i hope to teach them the same values you hope to teach your children. it is sad that i will have to tell them that their black race is beautiful because others think otherwise.

    i pray that Berry feels nothing but loved and accepted wherever he or she goes!

  9. Everything you say here is true. And all your fears for your child are well-founded. There's so much ignorance in the world. So much fear. People with ignorance and fear inside their hearts have to put those of us who are different inside boxes because they fear what they don't know. Ironically enough - what they don't know is the very thing that would set them free. It's so interesting to know your thoughts while your little "berry" was still inside your womb.


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