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Does Anybody Else Look Like Me? A Parent’s Guide to Raising Multiracial Children

By Donna Jackson NakazawaPerseus Publishing; $25

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Donna Jackson Nakazawa’s new book offers advice from both parents of children with multiracial or transracial adoption backgrounds, and from the children themselves. The rest of the world sees our families’ differences first, she says, and makes comments that range from the innocent to the asinine. We can’t change the world singlehandedly, but we can arm our children with a strong sense of self and a selection of quips. (Mine respond to “What are you?” with a blank stare and “Human.”)
Nakazawa, a biological mother of half-Japanese, half-Caucasian children, assumes that the same parenting techniques will work equally well for mixed-race adoptees and biological children. As any adoptive parent raising a child apart from their ethnic heritage knows, it’s harder when there are no family members to act as role models. And as I know from raising my son, it’s particularly hard when you don’t know precisely what the child’s racial background is. This is a common situation for mixed-race adoptees, but it’s ignored here.
Nakazawa has an interesting section on choosing where to live and school your children, recommending that parents stay in the same place as long as possible---friends who’ve known a child a long time will see him or her as an individual rather than a question mark.
A mixed-race family lives on both sides of a racial divide—and if you who don’t believe such a divide exists in America, walk around the mall as a blonde, then walk with a black teenager and watch the security guards perk up. No child should have to carry the burden of society’s ills, but our kids are our best hope of bridging that divide, and we need all the advice we can get on raising them to be strong. This book is a start.
Reviewed by Isolde Motley, who lives with her family in the suburbs of New York City.

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