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I'm Uncomfortable With That

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm going to give you a little personal background before I get to the point. I have eight kids. Six of my kids are adopted. Of those six kids only one is white. All of the other kids are black, or black and white.

When we went to adopt for the third time, we were adopting a beautiful, ebony skinned, six year old girl through the State of Washington. The state suggested we attend diversity training, our black friends suggested we didn't.

Since Nikki's adoption could have been on the line we attended. It was taught by radical social workers that seemed to feel it was their duty to let the white parents in the room know they were dooming the children they were adopting to hell.

I thought it funny at the time that all of the people in attendance, that were adopting, were white. All of the children being adopted were black. We were told to expose the kids to "black culture," "black food," "the black lifestyle." We were told that "African-Americans" and "European-Americans" were fundamentally different.

When a lone parent had the courage to ask why there were only white people in the class the instructor got in a huff. Her exact terse words were "It's not in our culture to adopt. European-Americans adopt." So why in the hell was she berating the parents that did want to adopt kids that needed parents to love them?

After she ranted on the vast differences between "African-Americans" and "European-Americans" for several more minutes, the same courageous parent from earlier politely said he wasn't "European-American," he was white. That's when she really got aggressive with her "diversity training."

I left the meeting in tears, my husband was pissed. That night we spoke with some friends, black friends. I asked them what "black culture" was. Mike looked at me like I was an alien. Then he asked, "Have you been talking to social workers?"

"Yes, we attended a diversity training class so that we could adopt Nikki."

"Teri, forget everything they told you. I grew up eating at McDonald's just like you did, I went to 7-11 and shopped at Safeway. I suppose they told you to give her ribs too?"

"Yes they told us to make sure to feed the kids ribs, chicken, greens and pork chops. When they said that, I thought it sounded a little stereotypical."

"Teri, those people only have one thing in mind and that is to continue segregation."

"Mike, the trainers were all black."

"I assumed so."

I was feeling better after our talk, and his encouragement. I spoke to other friends. They told us the same thing. Something else each of our friends mentioned was to ensure that our children knew they were American.

We followed the advice of our friends, after all they lived the life and had no agenda. Our kids know that they are first a child of God, then an American and then a member of our family.

A couple of years ago my daughter, Nikki, was at a friend's house. The parents had friends over and when Nikki walked into the room the mother introduced Nikki, not as her daughter's friend, but as her daughter's "African-American" friend. Let's see, what if I was being introduced? Would she have introduced me as her "European-American" friend? I don't think so.



My daughter said, "I am NOT African-American! I've never been to Africa and I never plan to go to Africa. I prefer that you don't disrespect my pride in being an American by hyphenating my heritage."

The mother sat there speechless for a few seconds before she said, "I'm just not comfortable with calling you that."

WHAT? My daughter wants to be called American and you're not comfortable with calling her that? What kind of Kool-Aid have you been drinking?

With that little revelation Nikki gathered her belongings and left their home.

Before you all jump on the "evil white parents indoctrinating their black children" bandwagon, you have to know that our kids are well-rounded. They've been taught history, ALL history, not just the type you read in school these days. They have friends of varying backgrounds, they've been exposed to the world, not just one small section of it, and they are comfortable with who they are.

I took the long way around to bring you to this. I was at the pediatrician's office Friday and saw this print hanging on the wall.



I realize that many of your opinions regarding this print will vary from mine. Many of you would have never thought anything of it and there's nothing wrong with that. I'm on the other side of the fence. I've had people try to shove my kids into a box for 20 years.

I think that the radical social workers would be proud. My kids were offended. To me this screams "stereotype" and continued segregation. How are people supposed to get along if there are those that continually find a way to put a wedge in race relations? Uh, tell me that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, tell me that.

By the way, that stereotypical list of "black" foods on the menu are all culturally southern foods, not African foods. That's what I ate while I was growing up and I still do. All of my kids eat those foods, even (GASP) my white kids.

Stop trying to keep my kids at the back of the bus!

So that's my second rant in two days. I should be good for several months, unless someone pisses me off before then.

Kisses to you all,

56 comments:

Mommying On The Fly November 21, 2010 at 7:32 PM  

I truly wonder if they do the same classes for the hispanics or black couples adopting white kids etc.. bwaahahaha ..what about a bi-racial couple to begin with.. truly find that ridiculous.. soooooo Hispanic babies only eat tacos, or rice and beans?? I would be offended.. ribs??? REALLY, and they were African Americans??? on another note before I rant the HELL out of your comment box.. GOOD for your daughter.. I would be soooo proud of her.. KUDOS..

Nicole November 21, 2010 at 7:34 PM  

THANK YOU for saying that! First all of - the food, you are absolutely right - it's not "black food" or "soul food" it's Southern Food. (I live in Alabama and grew up in Georgia.) As a woman married to an African (Egyptian to be exact) - I agree with you and my husband would - African stands for a continent and she is from America. Because my husband is not black - people say he is not an African-American. Crazy stuff. You guys are doing great things! Keep up the excellent work!

Dazee Dreamer November 21, 2010 at 7:38 PM  

Good for you. And good for your daughter at the "friends" house. People like that are just dumb. You can tell she was raised by a mother that loved her.

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 7:45 PM  

I didn't know meatloaf was an ethnic food. I guess I'm black. I eat fried chicken, ribs, and meatloaf.

EmptyNester November 21, 2010 at 7:51 PM  

You would think by now the ignorance (stupidity?) of some people would be virtually nonexistent on matters of race. When will it end?

JoJo November 21, 2010 at 7:53 PM  

Thank you!!

I'm completely with you! Society is doing nothing, but worsening the issue of racism and its pathetic.

I'm appalled by the teachings of the social worker and I'm disgusted at that woman for categorizing your daughter like that. I'm proud Nikki got the hell out of there!

~Onreeone~ November 21, 2010 at 8:00 PM  

Did I read right in that this was hanging in the Dr.s office? OMG- Im repulsed to say the least Teri and yes, I find it offensive. Very offensive!

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 8:00 PM  

You all are bringing tears to the Diva's eyes. I was so afraid that I'd get torn apart, I still may...yikes!

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 8:13 PM  

Aunt Teri, If you must offend, offend in every way possible. Even though the founders hated slavery, they couldn't abolish it in one generation, so they built the constitution in a way that it would be able to over time. There are people who won't let us transcend this thought process, because of FDR, and other socialist agendas.

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 8:40 PM  

Andrew, I wasn't on the offending end, I was on the offended end, and damn it so were my kids. And you should be too! I mean are you forced by anyone, other than your mother, to eat gyoza and sip miso soup? Or forced by anyone, other than your mother, to eat bbq and tex-mex? Now people reading this are all messed up wondering what the hell I'm talking about. But you get it.

pengboo November 21, 2010 at 8:42 PM  

Why can't we all just be one race? HUMAN! A big hug to you for providing your children love, understanding, trust, and the knowledge to stand up for themselves.

Gucci Mama November 21, 2010 at 8:49 PM  

Brilliantly, perfectly stated. You're so right on.

Nikki is stunningly beautiful, by the way.

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 9:05 PM  

Aunt Teri,
What I was saying is, Conservatives offend everyone cause they are right. The truth is offensive to some. :) Also Truth doesn't make a noise. I am offended that people would try to put people in a social class.

Or make others follow social rules.

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 9:06 PM  

Well, Thank you Gucci. Now where's that wolverine?

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 9:14 PM  

Andrew~ social class? Sweet, dear nephew, Diva is a social class. Social classes are everywhere, they will continue to be, hopefully, or we'll be living the communist dream....oh wait a minute, never mind.

As for social rules, maybe I'm misunderstanding your meaning on social rules. Many of our social rules are with good reason. You know, elbows off the table, respect the space of others, have respect for those that deserve it (papa there), no sticking your finger up your nose in public, etc.

Maybe you mean that people should be judged by their character instead of their "race." In that case I totally agree.
Now tell your mother to get me your grandmother's recipe for Gyoza! I WANT some of Tomi's gyoza!

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 9:20 PM  

Nah I mean like, when a comedian does a bit on mental retardation, it's offensive. But Tom Hanks can run around for two and a half hours going "Ner Ner I love you Jen nay." and he's a genius.

Or like when I make a joke about aids.

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 9:28 PM  

Andrew, how much pain medicine have you had tonight?

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 9:31 PM  

not enough. was that last bit offensive?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JitDWQI9qc

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 9:45 PM  

It was shocking Andrew, but I had to consider the source. You are damn near a taser!

Andrew November 21, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

I tend to shock and awe.

Christina November 21, 2010 at 11:11 PM  

laughing at the banter with you and andrew...but as for your blog, i would be seriously offended as well. my 3 year old daughter is 1/4 black, her father is mixed with black and white, and our daughter was born with red hair and blue eyes, i get alot of mean comments from stupid, ignorant people about how theres no way she belongs to my husband and whatnot. i try my best to ignore it, but it angers me as well! and i say you are a GREAT mom that your daughter learned values and deep respect for herself that she wouldnt let her friends mother disrespect her by calling her an "african" american! kudos to you and Nikki !!!

The Bipolar Diva November 21, 2010 at 11:20 PM  

Thank you Christina! And yes, my little Nikki does indeed rock!

Rob-bear November 22, 2010 at 12:19 AM  

I guess I'm some sort of social misfit, but I don't do "hyphenated" Canadians, unless the other person insists (which is really rare).

People are just people; lets not impose categories on them. Please.

Oh yes; we eat all kinds of different food. Never tried catfish, but I've made and eaten lots of meatloaf. I didn't know it was an "ethnic" food; we just ate it. And rice. And. . . .

Diva (in Demand) November 22, 2010 at 12:25 AM  

I feel comfortable letting you know that at 2:23 in the morning (with blurry eyes) I kind of zoned out after reading "ribs" and began thinking about food.

In the meantime I am confused as to why the print is offensive and actually.....why the hell it was in a pediatrician's office. Let me go back and made sure I read that correctly.....yeah I did. I don't know if my opinion varies from yours or not because I am so freakin confused as to what the print has to do with kids and medicine! Explain that part to me first and then I'll come back with an opinion.

Copyboy November 22, 2010 at 5:02 AM  

Wow! What's amazing is how many small minded people there are in the world that want to keep segregation/hatred alive and well. And then there are those with big hearts (like you) who want to end it. Thanks for the emotional lift this morning. :)

MarkD60 November 22, 2010 at 5:53 AM  

I really dislike the term "African American" The only African American I ever met was from Zimbabwe, and was white, with blonde hair and blue eyes. He had his green card and immigrated to the USA.
I think Nikki hit the nail right on the head.

Aunt of 14 November 22, 2010 at 6:05 AM  

I also noticed that that what was on the menu is NOT on the plate in that print.

I've encountered lots of people who are so diversity minded that they just go too far! They feel that they're promoting understanding and are being helpful, but they just go too far sometimes. Kids are kids... and just look at Nikki. She is knock out gorgoeus and looks happy!

Tricia November 22, 2010 at 7:10 AM  

Kudos to your daughter for standing up for herself politely and respectfully. Black, white, green, yellow, polka dots - it's just nice to hear about an articulate teenager! :)

Christy November 22, 2010 at 8:03 AM  

I find this absolutely repugnant. That is not cultural diversity, that is actually reverse racism and it is not acceptable at all. I mean, period. What they were really doing was setting up a scenario for making those kids "different" in the families who adopted them. And if I'm not mistaken, that is not the intent behind the adoption.

The fact that the parent found it offensive to call Nikki and American is even worse, in a way. I'm sure she was devastated to learn that someone she spent time with truly felt that way.

I've spent a lot of time in Memphis TN and I can truly attest to the fact that they are very definitely southern foods.

It is absolutely unacceptable.

Suzie November 22, 2010 at 8:18 AM  

Wow kudos to your daughter. What guts it would take as a young woman to do that. You did good raising her mom!

Nolie November 22, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

I think you got some competition for my love. I am totally loving Nikki. Way to stand up for herself. Keep doing it and shut up the ignorant. You have done your mom proud.

Monkey Man November 22, 2010 at 8:56 AM  

This just has my jaw dropping. Social workers perpetuating the stereotype. How regodamndiculous. I was taught to look for the similarities, not the differences. I am dang near speechless.

Daisygirl November 22, 2010 at 9:32 AM  

Like you I do feel that print is stereotyping. I think its sad being almost the year 2011 that this is still happening.

I was clenching my teeth as I read. First of all you are amazing for adopting. My middle son is adopted from Guatemala, hardest thing I think we have ever done.
I can't believe you had to take a diversity class...BS I say. I would have gone postal. And how can someone teach a class on diversity who doesn't even understand the word. Had she adopted before? Ugh angry!

Your awesome and your daughter is beautiful!

Jen G-son November 22, 2010 at 10:01 AM  

What a well written and informative post (as I'd like to adopt one day). As a person who lives in Hawaii surrounded by different cultures, I do find that there are some strong truths to stereotypes, but black people being the only ones to eat cornbread? A fallacy. I love cornbread! Hell, I'm having cajun food at my wedding!

Good for you for adopting kids though. I bet that can't be easy!

Holly November 22, 2010 at 12:00 PM  

I AGREE that we need to band together as HUMANS at let people enjoy, like, love and DO as they please... within acceptable realms of, course... meaning nothing ILLEGAL or downright purposely RUDE/CRUDE... What they are doing IS WRONG!! GAH!!

I have to say that you have obviously done a WONDERFUL job teaching your kids. I am so proud of Nikki for her courage in standing up and SAYING something!! How many kids would have shyly half-grinned and said nothing only to internalize the feeling until the opportunity was gone. What a WONDERFUL GIRL!! And hopefully that woman will think a bit on the subject and hold back before she let's her ignorant tongue FLY, again.

You RANT ALL you WANT!! It's ALWAYS the GOOD STUFF!! ;D

Andrew November 22, 2010 at 12:21 PM  

Why isn't there an African Canadian?

Mimi November 22, 2010 at 12:39 PM  

All I've got to say is Ho-lee crap! Can't believe stuff like this is still going on.

I'm sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you must have seen.

Hugs & love,
Mimi

Allyson & Jere November 22, 2010 at 1:07 PM  

Ok, I totally meant to comment on your last rant, and then, well something happened and I didn't. So, that first. YIKES! I'm mortified and terrified that a questionnaire like that is handed to CHILDREN! I'm proud of you for what you wrote on it. Those people are idiots!

Now, todays rant.

Ummm, WOW! I mostly just sat there stunned at all I read. It is mind boggling how absolutely STUPID people are and continue to be. I don't understand the need or desire to stereotype like that. And I'm highly impressed with your daughter and the self confidence she possesses. That says not only a lot about HER, but about your parenting as well. Speaking of, her friends Mom...total adn complete IDIOT! Can't even form better thoughts than just...IDIOT!

Reckmonster November 22, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

Dear Diva, first and foremost...allow me to say that I, as a Social Worker, am truly disgusted and ashamed by the "agenda" presented by the Social Workers who facilitated your "diversity training." I apologize on behalf of decent Social Workers everywhere, but I won't lie - there are way too many radical nutbag-assed Social Workers in the profession. It's a shame. I applaud your daughter's reaction to her friend's parent's statement - proof that she is raised in a decent environment, instilled with well-rounded values, and most importantly - has the self-security to express her opinion without fear - you don't get that being raised in some f-ed up family. I also hate the whole retardo-racial-stereotyping that goes on (because I happen to be mixed or "triracial" - as the radical Social Workers would demand I classify myself! LOL). God Bless people like you and hubby for giving extra love to kids who need it.

The Bipolar Diva November 22, 2010 at 4:20 PM  

Reckmonster,

Thank you SO much! I hope I didn't put a smear on social workers in general. We've had wonderful ones that far outweigh the bad. But those with their class certainly had an agenda!

Classic NYer November 22, 2010 at 4:21 PM  

I was so afraid that I'd get torn apart, I still may...yikes!
Oh, I'll tear you apart, Diva, but I promise you'll enjoy it. ;-)

But seriously though, folks...

I once had a conversation with a black guy whose parents were from down south (so... American) and asked him if black was a color or a culture. He said it was a culture. (Of course, making it a color would exclude Huey Newton and Michael Jackson, and we just can't have that.) I said "if black is a culture, I'm not black." He looked at me strangely. But if black culture comes from down south (as ribs, cornbread, etc do) then that doesn't involve me at all. I don't even like watermelon and fried chicken and everybody who thinks I'm black looks at me strangely when I say this.

Furthermore, my mother was very offended to be called "African American" when she first came to this country on a student visa. "I'm neither African nor American," she said. And yet she's still "black"... because, let's be real, black is a color, not a culture, and African American is a euphemism for "dark-skinned." Nikki's friend's mother should have introduced her as "her daughter's dark-skinned friend." That would have been more honest.

Classic NYer November 22, 2010 at 4:23 PM  

I truly wonder if they do the same classes for the hispanics or black couples adopting white kids etc..

Why would they? It's unnecessary. There's no such thing as white culture. It's just a blank slate... right?

The Bipolar Diva November 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM  

Ms. NYer you rocked those comments! I love you more each day.

Classic NYer November 22, 2010 at 5:21 PM  

I love you too, diva. :-*

In defense of the social worker, though, there are one or two things that white parents should be schooled on before adopting black kids... like hair grease and cocoa butter. I can see an otherwise well-meaning white parent just not knowing what to do about naps and ash and resorting to sending their poor little child to school looking like a tangled ashy mess...

But Nikki's hair looks good from what I can see, so kudos to you, mom. :-)

The Bipolar Diva November 22, 2010 at 8:42 PM  

Ms. NYer,

Nikki LOVES her cocoa butter, as do my other kiddos, but she's never used hair grease. I buy her high dollar shampoo and a wonderful high intensity conditioner and she does great. She does have her hair relaxed a bit from time to time. But her shampoo and conditioner are as much as mine....$47 a bottle, girl needs to start buying her own!

The Bipolar Diva November 22, 2010 at 8:44 PM  

FYI everyone, Nikki just informed me at dinner tonight that her friend's mother won't speak to her, or even acknowledge her. Nikki said she's always respectful and says hello anyway. Nikki also said she had second guessed her actions that night and you all made her realize that she did do the right thing. Thank you!!

Levonne November 22, 2010 at 9:56 PM  

Wow Bipolar Diva, that post was a mouthful! My education is in social work and I worked as a social worker for many years, giving diversity trainings and teaching the history of diversity and oppression to social work students. And I am multiracial. Both of my parents were of more than one race. I was raised in the south on those foods on the poster. Professionally, I have found families for and placed kids for adoption. As a volunteer, I worked for over a decade to get the government to allow people to check more than one box when racially identifying themselves on government forms beginning in the year 2000. It seemed absurb to me that people were forced to lie about their racial heritages. I've experienced just about all that you mentioned from varied and multiple perspectives. Given that I was born in the 50's and spent the first seven years of school in segregated southern classrooms and the rest in integrated classrooms, I've learned lots about race relations. I've lived in the south, the west, the northwest and the southwest. My life experiences with race matters have shaped my view of the world. What feels important to me is that your children learn at age appropriate times about history of different groups (racial, cultural, religious) in our country and in the world. And it feels important that their sense of self-confidence is nurtured. I hope that they know that they can speak from their hearts. And that they can change their minds over time about how they reference themselves racially based on what they feel is important at any given time. You are obviously smart and passionate and committed to parenting. Thank you for taking care of our children. They need you and obviously you need them. I hope for you ample stamina and resources to raise your children to adulthood. I hope for them that they feel safe and laugh heartily every day.

Levonne November 22, 2010 at 10:06 PM  

Bipolar Diva, I just spent 30 minutes responding to you and the comment was deleted because it was too LONG! Darnit. A summary, I am a multiracial social worker who has worked in the adoption field. I was raised in a segregated southern town on those foods from the poster. I have given diversity training and taught diversity courses on a college level. You are obviously smart, passionate, committed to parenting. You need your children and they need you. What is important is that they feel safe and loved and at age appropriate times learn about the history of different racial, cultural and religious groups throughout the world. Who does race exactly right in this country? Very few people. I hope your children understand that they have a right to change the way they think about themselves racially as many times throughout their lives as is needed or desired. I wish you and your family peace and a heavy dose of laughter every day.

Florida Dom November 23, 2010 at 7:34 AM  

Just discovered your blog and love your attitude but what is the secret of keeping it all together with all the kids while coping with a serious illness. You go girl.

FD

Erin November 23, 2010 at 7:40 AM  

You always make me smile! AND yes Nikki yu did the right thing! xo

Cheeseboy November 23, 2010 at 4:10 PM  

I love your description of their place in the world 1. a Child of God 2. an American 3. a member of your family. So awesome.

I am 100% with you. Every word of this post was perfect. I am so glad those kids have you as a mother. I am disgusted by her friend's mother's behavior.

The Bipolar Diva November 23, 2010 at 6:08 PM  

Cheeseboy~ Thank you!

and...

Her friend's mother is an idiot!

Candace March 25, 2011 at 8:28 PM  

'"It's not in our culture to adopt. European-Americans adopt." ' Ugh. I hate it when ignorant people are in charge of things. Would she rather all those children remain in foster care then? You know, cuz black people don't adopt? Ugh. I'm SOOOO glad you're daughter is confident and smart and stands up for herself. I am so glad that you were offended by the picture in the pediatrician's office. (WTF). I also love that the guy was like, "I'm not European American. I'm white." I am like him. I'm black. Still an American. I have so many reasons to be jealous of your daughter's confidence and the way she was raised. I love my parents, but they emphasized my differences more then anyone else in my life, which made me extremely sensitive to the discrimination I did face later but completely unable to speak up and claim my ground as an awesome, unique individual who is black and american and loves being black in america no matter how many ignorant people I meet who are not black and black. I'm proud of you and your daughters.

Candace March 25, 2011 at 8:37 PM  

I also loved this comment "What feels important to me is that your children learn at age appropriate times about history of different groups (racial, cultural, religious) in our country and in the world. And it feels important that their sense of self-confidence is nurtured. I hope that they know that they can speak from their hearts." Something that was totally missing in my life...and I love that you have given that to Nikki! (Sorry for the second post!)

The Bipolar Diva March 25, 2011 at 8:48 PM  

Candace, thank you so much for the incredible comments! We've tried hard to raise our kids to embrace, and accept, differences. That people are people first. I ♥ you!

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