Why It's Not Cool To Tell Interracial Couples They "Have" To Have Kids

Photographed by Natalia Mantini.
Since my boyfriend and I began dating three years ago, I’ve encountered a lot of comments, often from strangers, about how we must have children because they will be gorgeous. Now, I love a compliment, but it’s often clear that these comments have nothing to do with my or my partner’s appearance. Rather, they’re inspired by our race. I’m Italian, and he’s Black, and according to the people pressuring us to have a kid, mixed-race babies are soo cute!
One time, after we’d been together for a year, my partner and I were at a luncheon, and the woman next to us kept bringing up our hypothetical interracial children. I wasn’t even sure if I wanted kids at the time (and actually, I’m still unsure), but when I tried to end the conversation, she began to tell us how she wished she had a mixed race kid, because they are just the best. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but something felt really wrong about what she was saying — it was as if she was ranking skin tones, and by combining ours, my partner and I were giving our (again, hypothetical) children some sort of competitive edge. The conversation didn’t leave me feeling angry, though, since it seemed like she was trying to be nice. I mostly just felt weird.
Of course, it hasn’t just been that one conversation. This has been a recurring theme whenever the topic of kids comes up. It comes off as if some people think interracial couples have an obligation to procreate, or that mixed-race kids are some sort of novelty. And that doesn’t really sit well with me. I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be flattered or offended (or neither). I just know that if I do decide to have a baby, it’s going to be adorable because, duh, babies are adorable.
In speaking to interracial couples I know and others via Twitter, I found I was far from alone. Through their stories, I was able to pinpoint just why these comments were so problematic.
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It presumes one racial makeup is better than another.

“It does bother me, not because of any pressure to have children, but because of all the implications of saying biracial children are the most beautiful. My husband is a biracial Black man, and I am white. On a weekly basis, we are told that we ‘will have the most beautiful children.’ I should clarify that I only ever get these comments from other white folks. Usually, I can see that they intend these remarks to be compliments. Their tone and emphasis suggest they are trying to let me know that they aren't racist, but I don't think they are aware of all the beliefs underlying those statements. To be blunt, it seems that they think biracial babies are the best because they are exotic without being too exotic. Their hair is a mass of curls without being coarse. (‘They have the best curls, defined and soft.’) Their skin has color without being ‘too dark.’ (‘It's the perfect shade, like a beautiful latte.’) This deeply bothers me, because these comments invalidate the beauty of my dark-skinned friends and family. These comments establish a beauty ranking based on race, which is not just ignorant but extremely harmful. They are comments which result from a long history of racist thinking and practice, which is not acknowledged. Furthermore, I don't want my future children to grow up feeling superior to the darker-skinned kids around them, because they have ‘good skin’ or ‘good hair,’ according to these racist standards of beauty. I don't need anyone to validate our interracial relationship or our future children, no matter how positive their intentions. I married the man I love. Our children will be beautiful. So will theirs.”

-Katie, 25

“My mother tends to pressure my wife, almost begging her to have kids, because she wants her ‘light-skinned grandbabies’ as soon as possible”.

-Jerome, 28.

“When some people find out my child is half white, 1/4 Korean, and 1/4 black, they get all excited for me and say, ‘Oh wow, he must be gorgeous! What an amazing gene pool.’ I once had someone specifically list the physical characteristics of each race that they liked (and didn't like — it was so incredibly racist), and then they proceeded to tell me that my child was lucky because he would have the good traits that they liked. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. What if he was just white? Would he not be as amazing? Do they think I somehow helped develop a super race?”

-Virginia, 33
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It turns you into the token interracial couple — rather than two people who just, you know, love each other.

“I am married to a woman of Haitian-American descent, and I hear it all the time from family, friends, co-workers, you name it. When I start to hear it a lot, it does bother me quite a bit. My wife and I don't necessarily think about each other's race when we are boning, and neither should others. I think it's cute when people are complimenting us and saying they think our babies will be beautiful mixed babies. But, once again, when you start to hear it over and over, in a short time span, it can become quite annoying. I guess what it comes down to is that we don't look at each other as Haitian-American (Black) or Italian-Iranian (white); we consider each other as two people that love each other for what's inside. People talking about our mixed babies is just another variation of the, HEY YOU GUYS ARE INTERRACIAL, ISN'T THAT WEIRD OR COOL OR SOMETHING VERY STRANGE, which we have been hearing since we started dating.”

-Carlo, 29
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It’s weird and fetishistic to judge the appearance of a baby.

“I don't find any of this cute at all. I am Filipina and my husband is Spanish, and I honestly find it bothersome that the comments about us having to have a mixed-race child come from the Filipinos. It’s like being just plain Filipino isn't good enough. The Philippines was colonized by Spain for a little under 400 years, and then was under the U.S. for about 50, so there's a lot of colonial mentality still present even up to now. People who have lighter skin and less Southeast Asian features still have an advantage, and people who are half-white are always seen as ‘better’ than Filipino-looking Filipinos. While I understand the implications of having a child that appears more white, it also makes me bleed a little when people comment that I should have babies because they will be cuter because they won’t be 100% Filipino.”

-Cam, 38

“I think it fetishizes interracial dating and interracial kids. It’s the same way people fetishize Black people, like when people assume all Black men have big dicks and can play basketball. As a Black man, that’s hurtful. Assumptions in general are hurtful.”

-Austin, 34

“I’m Asian and my ex-boyfriend was white. While his family was outwardly loving and kind, there was a lot of obsession about how our kids would look. It bothered me tremendously. It felt like the legitimacy of my interracial relationship was contingent on making beautiful children. It was like, if we didn't make amazing babies, then it wouldn't have any merit.”

-Grace, 29
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Race aside, it’s no one’s business whether or not you plan to have kids.

“I’m white and the hubs is Indian. Before we had kids, people would tell us how beautiful our biracial babies would be. When I got pregnant, people were dying to know what this biracial baby would look like. After our first kid, we were told to have another, and that we ‘make beautiful babies.’ After our second, we were asked if we were having more for the same reason. It bothered me a few times after I had an ectopic pregnancy. I was devastated and literally a co-worker asked me if I was pregnant one day, because I had just come from the doctor. So the reason I minded had less to do with my interracial relationship and more to do with how brazenly people would ask and think they were entitled to our personal information. I never felt pressured, because I always wanted to have kids. The thing is, you never know if someone is experiencing fertility issues, and unless the woman is in labor, it's not a good idea to ask if they're having a baby.”

Dawn, 39

“Sometimes, I think the people who are obsessed with interracial kids are the ones who feel guilty that interracial marriage used to be illegal. But no matter their race, just don’t ask people if or when they plan to have a baby. When or if I have a baby is none of your business, unless you plan to pay my bills.”

-Melissa, 39
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Unfortunately, these comments aren’t the worst things interracial couples hear about their relationship.

“I have three mixed kids. The comments regarding how my children would look didn't bother me at all. Some people would rave about my children's tan skin. The positive remarks were welcomed, because I dealt with so much negativity — initially, the racism was overwhelming. It was bothersome when people made comments speculating about how difficult [my kids’] lives would be as a result of their mixed races. My aunt told me when I was pregnant that I was having a ‘n- word baby.’ My grandmother wouldn't allow me to bring my infant in the house, because she was afraid the neighbors would see her. Even to this day, one of my parents still makes racist comments regarding my kids. They're grown now.”

-Meagan, 40