I was wondering why I was spending time on my silly video when the thoughts rolling around in my head were so very serious and inconclusive…
I guess they needed to “stew” awhile longer…
When my husband and I were in the process of becoming foster parents there were a lot of forms and a lot of questions. I wasn’t troubled by any of it…perhaps only troubled by the length of time it was taking to have some wonderful child come to our home for love and care…when we were asked about race if there were any children we would not feel prepared to care for, we said absolutely not…nonissue…could you imagine??? if it was really that easy…to just say it is a non issue and make it so? What we were saying and thinking is that we wanted to love and care for children…any children…all children. We had the same response but perhaps a bit more concern about drug exposure…how funny, that we were wondering if we were capable about the easier part of the situation. When there are complications and residuals that children deal with because of drug exposure, there are so many experts you can go to and support networks to help the child through and heal and comfort and meet the need. Funny how that was where our concerns lay…
A friend of mine I reconnected with on Facebook gave me such pause…reminded me of what a thoughtful, thorough person he has always been – and now what wise and thorough people he and his wife are…they were talking about adoption and I was so quick to ramble though our amazing experience and his response gave me the think time I should have had before…he said that he and his wife didn’t think they would be able to adopt a black child…when I first read this all my mama pride and snap judgements reared their head, but he continued to say such a wise thing…he said, for whatever reason, geographic location perhaps more than anything else, there just weren’t black people in their realm of friends, neighbors, etc. I was stunned…my friend had been more thoughtful about the future and comfort and connectedness and wellbeing of my children than I had…wow. big quiet moment for me.
If you hear someone saying that race doesn’t matter…it is usually a white person. I didn’t come up with this, I’ve heard it at many workshops and I know it to be true. When most people look like you, textbooks are written for you, and unwritten rules conform to your childhood experiences, there is not much to consider. We don’t even get to have an ethnicity on a form, or you might say we are not forced to label ourselves- either way. Peggy McIntosh wrote an amazing article about white priviledge. (http://seamonkey.ed.asu.edu/~mcisaac/emc598ge/Unpacking.html). I’ve heard her speak as well, and the wonderful thing she does as she speaks is creates this ease around the topic…a topic that is so very taboo and touchy that some may never click this blog again…she says when we are having this conversation, there is to be no blame, shame, or guilt…just learning and understanding. I urge you to read if you are interested, and if those two powerful words put together really bothered you, I’m sorry to have caught you unaware, to have snuck in something pretty tough when I’m usually pretty silly. I just attached the article in case anyone was interested. I learned a lot from her. I can easily follow with undoubtedly knowing that I have learned much more from my children’s passing comments, and that is saying a lot if you know Peggy McIntosh. Here’s a bit of what I’ve heard:
when CNN was very little she talked a lot about the fact that she is brown and her dad and I are white
when we went to the grocery store, which I thought was very diverse, she said quite disgustedly, “there are no brown people here!” now, there were many hispanic people, but not many brown people like my daughter.
when we started going to the bus stop when she was in kindergarten she was frustrated that everyone at the bus stop was white
When we drive east of 71 highway to pick up our Goddaughter, she noticed that all the people over here are brown and at our house they’re white
she has come home from school and told me that a friend said that white was pretty and brown was ugly, and other days that she didn’t get to be in the club because she didn’t have blue eyes, or that they said I wasn’t her “real” mom because we didn’t look alike
she wants her hair like mine, not like hers
MC told me that brown people get in trouble – he’s seen them on cops (MR.Z!!??? – they watch Noggin with me!)
he also saw a man that I noticed in a car drive by…what I noticed was a beautiful light blue jag with a man dressed to the nines – even a cool hat…what my son saw was a bad guy getting away…I asked why…he said he was brown and he was wearing all black…I said, but you’re brown, and you’re not bad – you’re wonderful and brilliant and perfect – how could you think that brown was bad? – MC is quite savvy and saw the pain on my face – so he quit speaking truthfully and tried backpeddling for damage control, but I had heard his truth loud and clear
CNN and MC both told me when they were listening to dance music that this was music for brown people where girls in swimsuits danced on cars and shaked their bottoms (now I KNOW that MR.Z does not let them watch music videos and we switch the radio station regularly due to lyrics) Even the chipmunks movie has that song, don’t you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?
I thought that whatever deficits there were in our day to day life for our children in supporting their culture, we could just create experiences and opportunities. It is not that I don’t look into programs or cheer when someone who is not white moves into our neighborhood, but daily tasks take over and the priority of cultural relevance and support and nourishing has just taken an embarrassing back seat – as I hear in their words…they are so loved and cherished but it is not enough…it is not all that they need…and there are networks that I can call on and perhaps I am at a point with their emotional health where all other fires are banked and the homefront is holding strong…now I need to feed them the nourishment their words tell me they crave, they deserve, and I crave as well.
Dear Mr. President…I am so glad you are here…it is so very long past time…a beacon of hope and an example of greatness for my children who deserve more than I have given. People had your image likened to a super hero. They do expect that much…they will not be let down…expect miracles, create magic, create synergy, and be not all things but many things to many people treating each as if they are the most important on your list and in their moment, they are…this is what effective teachers do day in and day out with a smaller support staff, no cook,and a little salary:)
Your words are so frightening…SNARK will speak of how demanding nation to live a life of service is not freedom at all…but the louder people protest, the closer they are and more fearful they are of change sometimes…and diminishing a request is just an avoidance tactic… asking for someones’ best self is a leader requesting a tall order…it is absolutely terrifying to look inside yourself and really examine why you are here and what gifts you have to develop and share…exactly where you are called to serve, and not by the President…it is such a vulnerable position to be in…to try to live your dream, your destiny, to push barriers within and see what greatness you have to offer…failure is attached to this and that is very scary…I’ve failed, twice actually in a professional way…but really what it was, what it gave me was new boundries and more clarity to where I wanted to be to begin with…each time I came to the other side better, stronger, with so much more to have as well as to offer…I know I’m not done…I’m just trying to listen and absorb the journey –
oh my goodness, a cynic would have a heyday with that paragraph, wouldn’t they?!
If we do what the President has asked, authentically, we will be so very grateful that he made the request, and will receive so much more than we have given…that is always the case. This is a very exciting moment my friends!
this is me stopping:)
Give(first to your spirit and the rest will just unfold)