Saturday, February 28, 2009

Race Ramblings

If you're new here (ha! as if there's anyone reading this who isn't my mom or best friend, but just in case), we're adopting a baby from Rwanda.

I think it's time to state the obvious:
  • I am white.
  • Ben is Indian (for those from a previous generation, that would be dots not feathers).
  • That would make Sy and Taly a beautiful mix.
  • Babies from Rwanda are black.
We are a mixed-race, multi-cultural family. I think that's obvious, but you'd be surprised how many people don't notice. And do you know why they don't notice? Because Ben is brown, not black. So, you can bet that all of the people who never noticed will probably start to notice when the white lady is breast feeding a black baby (I haven't decided yet, we'll see how old he is when we get him).

I have been one half of a (quite amazing, I might add) inter-racial marriage for over 7 years, and I have been the white mom to Indian children for over three years, and yet, I think it is also obvious that I'm not very qualified to lead the race discussion. (As evidenced by the dots/feathers description)

Now that all obvious statements are out there and all disclaimers are made, let's talk about race.

I am proud that I am part of this generation - that I can walk through the mall with my family and not be stared at. I know there was a time where that wouldn't be possible. I also recognize that there is a lot of ugliness out there - some I've yet to experience, and some I've experienced but been to naive to realize.

Simon has yet to notice that people come in different colors. He still describes people as "black" or "blue" or "pink" based on what color shirt they have on. But he has learned that horrible song, "Jesus loves the little children."

You know, the one that describes Jesus' precious kids as "Red & Yellow, Black & White?" In our house the lyrics have been changed to "Brown & Tan & Black & White," so that one day Simon doesn't question Jesus' love for him based on the fact that he is neither red, yellow, black or white.

I recently read some great posts by anymommy, and her thoughts, along with my own secret musings have reminded me it's good to talk about this stuff. To admit that I haven't got a clue. That I love imperfectly. That my brain is the house to sinful thoughts. That my heart fears the judgments of others. That things aren't ever as clear-cut or as easy as they could be.

I have recently realized that though I am adopting an African baby, I will be raising an African-American boy, who will some day be a black man living in a racially-charged world.

And I am all too aware that I am underqualified.

But I believe. I know. I have faith.

That love isn't for the easy times. That it's rarely convenient. That it always reaches across walls.

That babies need mommies. That big brothers need little ones.

That there's more I can do, more I trust God with, more I can hope for.


I'm sure I said lots of things wrong here. But as a white woman navigating multi-racial motherhood, I'm betting that's going to happen again. And if we can't talk about it, we'll never get anywhere.

So thanks for putting up with my thoughts. I'm sure there will be more to come.

4 comments:

anymommy said...

I'm sure would some would disagree, but I don't think you can say anything 'wrong' as you navigate your feelings about your family and how you'll deal with the world and how the world will deal with you. I strongly believe that the more we talk about these subjects, with each other and (age-appropriately) with our kids, the better off we are.

What a pleasure to 'meet' you - and thank you for reading and for your comments. I hope we'll get to chat more!

DAVID MAINE said...

Hi Susie

Sorry this is not a comment about your post but about your comment on my blog... Wanted to let you know that my reading/lecture is TONIGHT (Tues Mar 3) at the U of Cin. There is a link on my blog (2 or 3 postings back) that gives info. I hope you can make it. Otherwise, I don't know, maybe we can meet for coffee or something... Cheers, Dave

Kirsten said...

I too am a white girl married to an Indian (dots not feathers) man. We never refer to our children as bi-racial. My twin girls are six and a half and are just now starting to ask questions about their race. People often mistake me for the nanny.

"I'm sure I said lots of things wrong here. But as a white woman navigating multi-racial motherhood, I'm betting that's going to happen again. And if we can't talk about it, we'll never get anywhere." -- Loved this statement.

I look forward to reading more about your adoption.

cosmic flyer said...

I love that you posted your thoughts on this. We are an Asian family adopting a little boy from Rwanda (AWAA--waiting to get our homestudy back). My husband immediately went out and bought at least 5 books on race-relations. What is it with not talking about the obvious. You stated it so well: we will raise Rwandan males who will be viewed under the African American moniker. We can't ignore that our child will be black and pretend that the world will always be ok with that. You go!