The Decolonial Parent

a continuous work in progress

person holding outlined map

Where we’ve come from

As we look forward to raising our child in this complex and confusing world, we think it’s important to have a clear picture of how we ended up here. Coming from completely different worlds ourselves, we’ve somehow navigated our way to each other to build a life that reflects our values and nurtures our dreams. Our backgrounds inform both our values and our dreams, so understanding where we started is crucial to mapping out the paths we want to take.

It is important that we know where we come from, because if you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.

Terry Pratchett, I Shall Wear Midnight
  • My grandmother was born diaspora in her country of birth, albeit in a majority diaspora culture, while my grandfather was an immigrant from the homeland.
  • My mother was born diaspora and child of an immigrant in her country of birth, whilst the majority status of her diaspora culture was rapidly fading. She migrated to a completely different culture where she was a clear and visible minority with extensive language and cultural barriers.
  • My father was born privileged majority in his country of birth, child of two parents who shared privileged majority status. Although he migrated to a different country, as a white man from a European country he still carried significant privileged majority status in spite of experiencing extensive language and cultural barriers.
  • When my parents had me, the first mixed child on either side of their families, my mother deferred to my father’s comparatively familiar culture as the norm, because it was the closer point of reference to the country I was born and raised in. Although she did her best to share traditions, customs, and language of her own, hers were already hand-me-downs from generations of diaspora.
  • As a privileged majority, my father took the prioritization of his culture for granted. He expressed disdain for my mother’s culture, in a fully colonialist manner, and always assumed she would defer to his culture but took very little interest in sharing customs and language of his own accord.
  • As a fully immigrant child, my sense of belonging in my country of birth has always been complex. I’ve migrated multiple times in my life, and ultimately as a mixed person it doesn’t really matter where I land because I’m always part of a minority.
  • My partner is from a significant and established minority culture in his country of birth, where diaspora as so established that they’re no longer referred to as diaspora and few people continue to have ties to their country of origin.
  • Both sides of his family have mixed with indigenous culture, but neither side has assimilated indigenous culture. Mixed relationships are very rare, and no-one on either side of his family has migrated to a different country on another continent until now.

Our families have very little in common, and yet we find so much common ground. Our life stories have differed wildly, and the worlds grew up in are a planet apart, but we hope to build a home and family culture where our child feels safe and supported, free to make mistakes and learn lessons throughout his childhood and beyond.

  • We’ll be raising our child in a country where both of us have extensive language and cultural barriers.
  • I grew up in more similar circumstances, as a mixed immigrant kid with second-language speaking parents, but that’s really where my experience ends.
  • Our child will be brown in a white majority country, and as a white-mixed kid I had a relatively easy time navigating a similar space. I have a lot to learn about what it’s like to have more melanin in this world.
  • His father grew up in a big family with strong community, in a country where difference is accepted as a part of the fabric of society. We are the only family that looks like us where we live, and our cultural community is both small and fragile. Our tiny family unit will be all the more important because of it.


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