Despicable and so disrespectful. There really isn’t a day that goes by that I can’t find an example of a racial slur. I struggle with- Do I point it out or tell my girls (8 and 9 AA girls) EVERY time I come across one OR do I pick and choose what I think they can handle- which is kind of silly to think I can insulate them forever (my instinctive protective reaction as their white adoptive mom) I imagine if i was their black mom I wouldn’t be as protective as I would be instructive- I think I’d really know- having lived it- that i need to use these examples to educate while they are young. Having raised some ither kids- I learned that my parenting style was effective when it came to role modeling, sharing values as a family, educating my kids on how to think- and at times what to think- this period ends at 11. After that there are SO many other influences to compete with!
Though Ive learned a NEW reaction instead from working with THIS amazing group of ‘TR’ – transracial – families. I NEED to SHOW my girls how to manage it. SO hard when Ive lived with white privilege. At times, I walk away and think- if my child made this transaction or had this encounter with another person ALONE- would it be different for them because of their race.
Yes. Because my eyes are wide open as I pay attention to all the people around me and I watch that we are treated equally, but we often are not.
I don’t love to be confrontational but I am when I find it necessary. It’s just in the matters of race- I find that I’d be fighting about one instance or another- every SINGLE day. If you experience racism, It must be either utterly exhausting – Do I stand up and make an issue about this or not? OR mind-numbing – where you just choose to ignore most of the hate and ignorance that is around you. It’s living halfway- always being on the alert, ready to be disrespected. Because you are- often, being treated differently. I suppose you choose your battles- what’s worth fighting for? Everyday?
When can you truly RELAX? (I imagine that’s why it’s still hard to break into the clique at church:) The superhuman, strong bonds of the black women at a church I’ve been attending for 9 years. Its a cultural thing to be relaxed in numbers. And their trust needs to be earned.
But I’m persistent, in a nice way, and I’m tougher than my 8 and 9 year old. I suppose I’m going to have to feel out how THEY FEEL- what to take a stand on and what to leave alone. But doesn’t that take guidance from me- and I’d be so subjective- but I’m still their WHITE mom.
Everything in this world will be different for me than it will be for them.
I might take issue with something that a black mother might not or vice versa. In fact- it might be pretty clear in their racial group – how to handle various situations. THOSE nuances of parenting a black girl are why I need so much help:)
I often wonder, if I was a black mother- would I be expecting my girls to handle things in a different way than I do as a white mother?
So for instance, I assume that if they take a racial situation to the principal- I would expect them to be heard and some disciplinary action taken.
Without my knowledge or presence, however, I think they’d get patted on the head and sent back to the classroom. As their white mom- who is accustomed to being heard and respected, I would be upset by the latter and I would call out the principal about how this was handled.
Now does a black mother handle it differently? That’s only ONE of the LENS I often use.
Would a black mother expect to make waves or would she want to avoid or ‘ignore’ such situations?
It’s SUCH a hard way to live- feeling disrespected so often, in so many blatant and subtle ways. And until the adoptions if my two youngest girls, Ive walked by it for most of my life, knowing of it but never truly FEELING it. It’s shameful for me now as I believe because I did nothing to affect ANY change, I was a part of the problem. And what a life of wasted time, that I didn’t use my time to raise up amongst us, those that were not on equal footing. I have no right to be here and live in a world where there are such vast inequities. Unless Im here to help create more balance. So I have a debt to pay, work to do- which has nothing to do with the goals, dreams and plans I have for my kids.
It’s the most painful experience – to feel discrimination through my kids. Several times- as my child has grown to not hold my hand or be constantly by my side- I’ve witnessed derogatory behavior from a shop owner, passerby, and salespeople. I’ve always called them out on it. Hoping that just drawing their attention to their poor behavior would correct things- but I know Im not winning the battle over things like this.
I’m really just teaching my kids to recognize when and if they are being treated differently when they should be treated equally. Would they call out the shop owner? If they have brave, strong personalities- they might…
I’m often shocked about how ignorant I was to the racial tensions that exist in our society. The sheer weight of it overwhelms me.
I now see racism daily. And for those who experience it, I imagine they’d scoff at my new awareness- as they know of racism every hour and every encounter of their day.
Since I believe I really can only command my kids full attention for a couple more years – I think we’ve got to talk about what I see, what they see and hear- about racism- several times a week!
I can hear my white privileged friends (and I DO know why the term is so offensive to them…another post!)
complain and suggest that all this attention to racism may place a chip on my young children’s shoulders before they may have experienced it on their own. Perhaps there won’t be these issues in a few years, they don’t see it do much anymore. Haven’t they always said that they don’t see color?
Doesn’t leave too much time for having an easygoing childhood, but helping my girls develop their instincts about people, learn to be aware of their surroundings, what actions can be taken in various situations- it’s NOT TOO EARLY to learn. At 12,13- they will be distracted- parents have LESS impact just due to kids and their stages of development. They also begin to need and use other guides, friends- and their parents, coaches and teachers and they consult them as well, even unconsciously. Then, our parental opinions are weighed along with these other influences. We have competition!
We think we will be around for helping them handle everything until they move out- and we CAN be ‘around’. But the influence we hope to have on them for a lifetime is really planted and nurtured in that first decade. We love and build trust, provide experiences and education- and THEN we get to bond through our shared beliefs and values- which is easy in the absence of other beliefs and value systems!
I suggest we take the time we expect to be actively parenting – 20 years or so and cut it in half. We get the first half to get it all in there- our values, our beliefs, how to love and respect and help and work – they are watching us SO closely in those few early years.
What I take a stand on, the racism I chose to see or ignore matters so much. And that Ive taught them to handle themselves despite the inequalities that glare at me everyday- this will be my greatest parenting challenge.
All this thought and worry and working outside of my ‘white girl privileged’ box- wont even show up in my children until the next decade or two. If they have respect for themselves and for one another – I think I will have worked this out right!