Tuesday, March 29, 2011
I don't do controversy much because, well, because I have enough shit in my life that raises my blood pressure and makes me consume Xanex by the handful. I certainly don't need to add to it but I got an interesting comment on my post "I'm Uncomfortable With That." If you haven't read that post you may want to give it a quick look through. It's brilliant, really. And to know what this post is about you really need the background.
The comment came from a friend of mine that went to school with my oldest daughter. Her name is Candace. She also has a blog that you can find here. Candace is beautiful, smart, funny and she's black. You may wonder why I even mentioned that she's black. Well because it has everything to do with her comment on my post. The post was on raising black children in a white family, racism and ignorance.
So here's her comment:
'"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.
And then she left a second comment:
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!)
Then we began messaging via Facebook. Here's part of one of her messages to me:
I really liked your friends comment about teaching children about history and the shared history of American people, the good the bad the ugly and to be proud of who you are every day as a member of this country. I don't think schools do this too well (there is just soo much to teach and not enough resources or time) and I think that was a missing component in my home. My parents wanted to protect me from people (all people, but mostly white people) whom they thought would treat me differently because the way that I looked (tall, black, dark skin, thick hair, kinda chubby, non athletic). I think this is odd, because usually in households like this (or at least I think so) there is usually an equal emphasis on the origins of those differences (ancestry/family history/genetics/etc) are awesome and that you are awesome.
I think ancestry provides an important frame of reference for the founding of our country and our individual family histories. I think that there is a lack of education that as Americans, we share our ancestry because we share our history. Slavery belongs to all of us, persecution of the Catholics belongs to all of us, women's rights belongs to all of us, the emerging men's rights movement belongs to all of us, Japanese internment camps belong to all of us. I don't know if this is the way things are now, but its how I want things to be for my kids. Does that make sense?
Candace brought up some awesome points. We share history. Good or bad, it belongs to us all. Most of us had nothing to do with that history but we have everything to do with continuing the ignorance. We CAN stop it. We CAN educate our children. We CAN make a difference. We segregate ourselves, we segregate our children, we segregate our lives. It's not always someone else separating us, a lot of the time that responsibility falls on our own shoulders.
My kids have had an advantage I have to admit. They were raised in a multi racial family. They accept our differences and know that people are people and that there's good and bad in everything in life.
Like my friend Andrea said "embrace your differences with your friends.
They may be the most solid foundation on which you stand.
Give a damn."
Oh, and if you haven't yet visited Andrea, go check her out. She's awesome!