Welcome to Naomi, who is sharing her family’s story as part of our Mixed Race Family series! I “met” Naomi through a mutual friend, Alex Barnett of the Multiracial Family Man podcast, and learned of Naomi’s great efforts to ensure our kids see diverse families depicted in the world around them (particularly books) and to incorporate her heritage into the beauty products she has developed.
My name is Naomi Kissiedu-Green, I was born in the UK to Ghanaian parents. I at present live in Perth, Australia, with my Australian (Caucasian) husband who is a Navy officer, and our 3 multiracial children. Kobi is four, Ebony is almost three, and Savanna is 3 months old. We move all the time due to my husband’s work.
I run my own beauty brand – Shea Purity. I am a retired model and now author of “The Colourful Life” books, which I wrote with a mission to help parents of multiracial families and families that want to embrace diversity and acceptance, and help families address identity with their kids. (You’ll be able to find links to Naomi’s products and books at the end of the post.)
How it all began
Matt and I met briefly through friends in London. Matt was on holiday for a short visit. We kept in contact via Hi 5 (it was similar to Facebook – I’m showing my age!), and then I visited Australia as part of my around-the-world trip. We bonded through our humor and banter (and maybe also the fact that he had a six pack at the time!). I loved that Matt was very worldly and had a lot to say on the world he’d seen. I think Matt liked the idea of flaunting a then-model on his arm!! He then realised he had fallen for my fun-loving personality also. After a year-plus of traveling and living together we decided we wanted to continue our relationship, and I decided Matt was worth moving over to Australia for.
Thoughts on being a multiracial, multicultural family
Being a multiracial family makes me look at life differently. In some aspects, it makes living a bit more difficult. The most difficult part is not the challenge of accepting ourselves for all that we are, but figuring out how the next person is going to perceive us and our family. I am constantly thinking about my children and what they will go through identity-wise.
I want my children to know they have two parents who are proud of and secure in their ethnic and cultural identities – that way the they will be taught to value each side of their culture and should feel proud and comfortable in both environments.
Our children get to be a part of both sides of our families, British-African and Australian. It is beautiful to be able to have our children fit into both sides and embrace it. They are so much a part of each family. They feel comfortable in each situation and that may be one of the best aspects of being in a multiracial family.
Raising mixed race children in Australia
It’s difficult not having the resources that help with not only the understanding and growth of my own children, but also the children they will have contact with at school. Multicultural/multiracial families are undoubtedly still in the minority in Australia. While we are unable to change this, we can increase the understanding, awareness and overall acceptance of people that come from a mixed background. We need to start to present a different idea of family!
Since having children I’m more aware of this, and I don’t want them to feel excluded. I want them to be able to have books that they can identify with. I want them to be portrayed more in the media – e.g., more multicultural families on television and children’s programs.
I decided to write a book for my children and other families that want to embrace diversity and acceptance. The book is called “The Colourful Life.” I feel I have started the process of getting everyone to be more aware that we need to make the environment more inclusive, more reflective of the diverse society in which our children will live. We need to start assessing the physical/material environment around us. I make sure my children have these things in their home as well as in their environment.
As Australia’s multicultural mix grows in diversity, the questions of race and skin colour are questions that should be addressed and in a way that is fun and easily relatable. I have had some wonderful feedback from people that have bought the books. Now they have a starting point to help discuss and tackle the topic of difference, identity and belonging for their little ones.
Keeping the kids in touch with their British and Ghanaian heritage
Coming from a very diverse society in the UK, I wanted to make sure that I could still embrace my cultural heritage with my family while over here in Australia. We do this through our cooking and dressing in traditional Ghanaian outfits. For my Shea Purity Products, I use Shea butter sourced from Ghana and use it for my whole family’s skin and hair care needs, especially to help maintain those tight curls!
I keep in constant contact with my family through Skype and the children talk to their uncles, aunts and grandfather almost more than I do! During our visits to the UK, they get to bond with all of my multicultural family while also embracing and celebrating our Ghanaian culture. My dad enjoys speaking Ghanaian (Twi) with the children, which adds to the cultural link.
Being a mixed race family around the globe
There is still plenty of discrimination in various countries based on skin colour and being a multicultural couple / family. Traveling as a family to different places, I have felt this no matter which country we travel to.
Being born in the well-known diverse London, I grew up in a place where there are so many people / families that are “mixed” – the mixed race population is the third-largest and fastest-growing ethnic minority group! Mixed marriages and mixed race people are not seen as controversial and the people living there are considered more “tolerant.” But in saying that, when I travel over to London with my multiracial family, I still get the strangers staring and the odd disgusted look of disapproval!
When we traveled through to Asia the people seem more fascinated by our family situation. They would stare at us constantly, take pictures and even come up to us and ask for a photo with them and our family. They would ask us about our child’s skin being so light. We were seen more as an anomaly. It was a more intense feeling, like you’re constantly be stalked! I did feel that they were giving us more positive vibes though.
Being a multiracial family you deal with your fair share of ignorance from both the white and the black communities.
I’m just hoping that one day this won’t even be a topic of discussion. Raising mixed kids will just be seen as “normal.” No matter what we experience, we are always positive and will continue raising confident children who are not “mixed up” and confused, but are proud and embrace their cultural identities!
Resources from Naomi
You can learn more about Naomi, her books, and her products here:
- “The Colourful Life”: Books for purchase and Facebook page
- Shea Purity Products
- The Stream: “Being Multiracial” (a Youtube video from Al Jazeera’s The Stream, interviewing individuals, including Naomi & Matt, about the multiracial experience)