MEET THE KISSIEDU-GREEN FAMILY
Naomi Kissiedu-Green, age 36
British and African
Matthew Green, age 38
Caucasian and Australian
Kobi, age 4
Ebony, age 2.5
Savanna, age 9 weeks
The children are Multiracial
WHERE DO YOU LIVE?
Perth, Australia at this moment (we move all the time due to hubby's work).
HOW DID THE TWO OF YOU MEET?
In London. Matt was on holiday for a short visit. We met for a quick coffee. We then kept in contact via email until I came over to Australia as part of my around the world trip. We caught up a few times and then traveled together. After nearly a year of traveling and living together we decided we wanted to continue our relationship. I went back home to the UK. Matt came over and we then continued our travels to the USA and then finally I moved to Australia….
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN YOUR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
In the beginning occasionally my husband and Dad had trouble understanding each other due to their accents. They now are hearing and understanding each other a lot better.
WHAT TRADITIONS DO YOU CELEBRATE IN YOUR HOME?
Being born and raised in the UK, the culture difference between Australia and British is almost non-existent. We both celebrate Christmas, Easter and other Christian holidays. The only other difference is to do with sporting allegiances when Australia is play Ghana or the UK in any sport.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CULTURAL FEATURE/TRADITION OF YOUR SPOUSE'S RACE?
The Australian outdoor lifestyle which is more of a result of climate than culture.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN DIVERSE?
Not as diverse as other places, but slowly getting there. There aren't many multiracial families like ours so we are sometimes looked upon like an anomaly.
DO YOU OR YOUR PARTNER SPEAK IN MORE THAN ONE LANGUAGE IN YOUR HOME?
Neither of us speak another language a part from English. I wish my parents had taught me Ghanaian… I would've loved to pass it onto our children. I hope our children get to learn another language in the future.
ARE YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR MULTIETHNIC RELATIONSHIP?
Yes. We haven't had any issues. They have always been supportive.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR PARTNER'S ETHNIC-CULTURAL BACKGROUND? My husband loves the cultural music which we play in our home and the strong family connection my family have regardless of where each of us are in the world.
DID YOU FIND BIG DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY YOU GREW UP VS. YOUR SPOUSE DUE TO DIFFERENCES IN RACE?
I feel the African side is more extended family oriented and a little less formal.
WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING/UNEXPECTED THING YOU'VE LEARNED ABOUT EACH OTHER'S CULTURE?
My husband had never heard of or taken a bucket bath.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
My number one pet peeves has to be…”Are those your kids”? / “Are you the nanny”? Why can't people assume someone is the mother unless told otherwise! My other peeve is “can I touch it?” ( my children's hair) but they would already have their hand in my child's hair!
WHAT ACTIONS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO TEACH YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT EACH OF YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
I wrote books called The Colourful Life, Same but Different and Surprise Baby which teach kids about diversity and acceptance. We also take regular trips to London which ensures exposure to both cultural sides of our family. I keep in constant contact with my family almost every day through Skype with the children talking to their uncles, aunties and grandfather almost more than I do. We have been fortunate enough to be able to make regular visits back to London, sometimes spending up to six months during this time they get to bond with all of my family (we have a lot of multicultural family members) while also embracing and celebrating our Ghanaian culture. My Dad enjoys speaking Ghanaian (twi) with the children which adds to the cultural link. All this has helped me expose my children to mine and their heritage. I also do this through my traditional cooking like rice, stew, plantain (when I can get it) and other African recipes. I like to dress in traditional Ghanaian outfits made with modern styles for the kids and I to wear. I make sure they celebrate their difference by letting my daughter wear her hair afro and other styles like cornrows while always ensuring she / he knows how beautiful it is.
HAVE YOUR CHILDREN ASKED ABOUT RACE? AT WHAT AGE?
My son mentions about our different skin colour / shade about 4 years old, but because we were proactively on the subject we already had the resources and started reading him our books and others books that related to the subject. We always tell our children that they are a beautiful, unique mix of daddy and mummy.
DO YOUR CHILDREN IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
At their age they don't understand. They are just children. Not black, white or mixed. Just Kobi, Ebony & Savanna.
HOW DO YOU RAISE YOUR CHILDREN TO HONOR DIVERSITY IN OTHERS?
Making sure they treat everyone with respect. The teaching starts at home. I want our children to be children of the world. Exposing them to all sorts of different cultures and experience. By being opened minded. We do this by introducing them to other cultures within our social groups of friends, encourage them to develop a culturally and racially mixed social circle. Playing music, and watching videos from our heritage and reading books.
WHAT UNIQUE CHARACTERISTICS DO YOUR CHILDREN HAVE FROM YOU AND YOUR PARTNER?
We believe they are the perfect mix of both of us.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOUR CHILDREN?
By embracing all that they are and their culture. Having them know unconditional love….all of this will help them foster pride and positivity.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR YOUR CHILD'S FUTURE IN REGARDS TO RACE?
For them to know both sides to their culture and feel comfortable in their own skin. For them not having to define themselves!