Tag Archives: Awareness

Reflecting on Trayvon and My Son

Not all families look alike, nor are they created in the same way. This is true of mine, and although I am always aware that my family doesn’t match, and that my kids are at risk for prejudice and racism, the murder of 17-year-old hoodie-wearing Trayvon Martin, shot and killed by self-appointed neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman (Hispanic) on February 26, 2012 in Sanford, FL, on his way to visit his father in a gated community from the 7-Eleven, armed with only Skittles and ice-tea, hit close to the bone. Trayvon was black.

The tragedy begs that I reflect deeply on the prejudice and racism that contributed to horrific event, and what these factors, as they stand now, portend for my children in the future. I attempt to assess how my Hispanic son will be seen by others, perhaps looking suspicious, as Zimmermann stated about Trayvon, because the assumptions may be that he does not “belong” where he lives. Or works. Or plays. All because of the color of his skin and the ethnic features that scream his heritage.

Raised by white parents, our son reflects our values and attitudes. He has also acquired a case of “white privilege,” courtesy of us.  He is comfortable being anywhere, among anyone, and that could be a detriment in the future when he is in the company of others who are not comfortable with him, because he is a teenager or a young man or a man who exudes confidence. And he is Hispanic.

Adolescent boys are targets for law enforcement. Add in some color and they become a bigger target. I was taught by my parents that the police are my friends and protectors; Hispanic and Black parents teach their kids to fear them, and often for good reason. Look around you. Observe who’s pulled over in the communities in which you drive through…

How do we “hammer” it home to our son about how he is viewed outside of his safe and loving family and circle of supportive friends? How do we, with our “white privilege,” help our son who has absorbed it, understand the seriousness of being treated a certain way by people because of his appearance? How do we teach him to “take it,” while also standing up for himself?  You see, we can talk the talk, however we can’t walk the walk… We are not of his race or ethnicity, and so we rely on others—peers, role models and professionals of his race and ethnicity.  Will it be enough? I pray daily that it will be.

Trayvon’s murder is a senseless tragedy.  As a parent and a human being I hope you are sickened by what has happened and are watching the events as they continue to unfold. I hope you use his murder as a springboard for discussions with your children.

There was no need for Trayvon to die. This sad truth has brought the ugly national history of race and racism into the spotlight. As humans we need to address these wounds; we need to talk about race and racism. We need to cry, together. We need to pray for Trayvon, his family, friends, and for the countless others who believe and act in such ways because they are ignorant, fearful and weak. We need to work towards healing, and that begins with all of us.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Growing Tweens & Teens, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Multiracial Families, Racial Identity, The International Mom

Global-Mindedness and Action

“The people of the world see each other and can protect each other.”

~ Jason Russel, “Kony 2012″

Joseph Kony has been the hot topic in our car-conversations since last week. At the constant urging of my kids I watched the 30-minute “Kony 2012” video this weekend, produced by filmmaker and activist Jason Russell. Released on the Internet on March 5th, “Kony 2012” has already been watched via YouTube by more than 74,000,000 at this posting. (There are no numbers representing how many times the video has been shared.) This is impressive.

The International Criminal Court indicted Ugandan guerilla group leader Joseph Kony for war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005. The documentary was made for the group nonprofit Invisible Children, Inc. for the purpose of bringing attention to the mind-blowing and ignored atrocities that have and are said to continue to happen in Uganda, DR Congo, South Sudan, and Central African Republic, and arresting Kony and bringing abducted children home. (There are reports that Kony is no longer a threat and that his army numbers several hundred.)

Our youth are part of the campaign, demanding justice for the hundreds of thousands of people that Kony and the LRA (Lord’s Resistance Army) have emotionally and physically maimed or killed, many of them children (over 30,000 of them), who have been kidnapped and forced into becoming sex-slaves (girls) and child soldiers (boys) who have often been forced to kill their parents.

For those of you who may still be unaware of what our youth are rallying around, and the scope and power of social media, watch the embedded video or go here to learn more about the plans.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Advocacy, Cultural Awareness, Family, In the News, Multicultural Families, Multiracial Families, The International Mom

Love Your Daughter, As She Is: Take it A Step Further

I felt the need to piggy back onto friend and colleague Christina Katz’s post from yesterday: Love Your Daughter As She Is Day! A Call For Society To Confront Our Obsession with Anorexic-looking Women (read the full post here).

In summary, after viewing the Academy Awards with her daughter, Christina put out a call to moms everywhere to stand up to the image that Hollywood projects to our impressionable daughters, that of thinness—to the the extent of sometimes resembling expensively-coutured living skeletons. (The sometimes-sometimes-not revered Angelina Jolie looked like hell, reminiscent of the emaciated Lara Flynn Boyle during her Jack Nicholson days.) We need to be having conversations about healthy body image with our daughters.

With all of the focus on “Who are you wearing?” and the major brown-nosing, the spotlight on the Red Carpet and during the Oscars was on unhealthy “beauty,” thinness wrapped up in ridiculously expensive clothing and jewels, with “perfect” hair and make-up, that mere humans can’t even begin to dream about. They can covet it though… And our young daughters can be easily persuaded to covet Holocaustic thinness, because it considered “beautiful” by the obscenely rich and famous.

My girls have gone there, as Christina’s daughter has, comparing themselves to what they see in magazines, on TV and online. They notice. How can they not with all of the images pounding regularly into their psyches?

What do I tell my daughters? I tell them they’re perfect just the way they are (same for my sons). They should have and demand respect for themselves and their bodies. They should love the bodies were given and appreciate their uniqueness. And, of course, as their mom and a woman, I can be part of the problem or the solution.

Christina states, “We can change our daughters’ futures by raising our own awareness about self-abuse among women and talking openly and honestly about how to love and accept ourselves instead of further dis-empowering and abusing our bodies.”

I agree. And so I take it a step further. What am I modeling for my girls? How do I feel about myself? My weight, height, body type, how I’m aging? And more importantly, how do I address it? Do I run to a plastic surgeon, diet, and/or bemoan the unjustness and effects of time and gravity? (NO!) How do I take care of myself (eat, drink exercise, relax, play)? What are my friendships like? How do I treat others? How do I honor myself?

You get the idea. What are your ideas for empowering our next generation of women? Share here and pass it on!

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Growing Tweens & Teens, Parenting, The International Mom