When parenting a transracial family, you quickly discover that it is best to embrace all ethnicities, races and cultures, not to just focus on those of your child (children for us). Focusing only on those of your kids, in a way, separates them from each other, calling too much attention to differences and possibly making the child uncomfortable. **As a note, we all should be working on this and I’m not directing this post to whites only…
Just as important is the fact that by embracing everyone, you model to your child an expansive perspective. Sometimes it is very hard to embrace everyone, but as a parent whose family is woven of three races, it is imperative that I do. I must find the “love.” Trust me…
I experienced a prime example this morning. Without me going into what happened, I can say that nothing merited the explosion of hate-filled profanity-laced words lobbed at me. The fact that they were preceded by “white” and “honky-ass” underscored the racist intent. Was I uncomfortable? You bet. Miserably.
I did attempt to calmly talk, to diffuse the (read: VERY LIBERALLY used here) gentleman and his female companion, but they were off and ranting like…well, a storm of epic proportions. And when the woman got going, there was no stopping her. I wasn’t going to be intimidated, of course, but I wasn’t going to engage either. And I think that is what made them even more hateful towards me. In fact, they are probably still at it.
So on top of all of this, my Asian daughter was sitting in the car. I had stopped to meet Holden and give him my gas card. He was driving “on fumes.” (He began to open his mouth, but I gave him the “don’t” wave. Holden was very shaken up over this.) Fortunately Josi was hidden from their view, because I have to believe that as vile as they were, they would have started in on her. The barrage was that bad and, sorry folks, this mom isn’t going to let that happen in her presence. Ever.
So upon pulling out and driving away from the gas station, I turned to Josi, “Did you hear any of that?”
“How could I not? Why did they act like that? You didn’t do anything.”
Shaking from the adrenaline, I answered, “Racism, sweetie.”
“How do you know it was racism?”
“Because they pulled my race into their foul words, time and time again, using it as a qualifier. The only thing I did wrong was that I am white.”
I know my daughters and son will experience racism. I know that whites can be targets as well. Today only reminded me of how hate can simmer just below the surface for some, ready to boil over in a rage of verbal abuse that can quickly lead to deadly violence if encouraged.
When things happen I often ask myself, “Why?” How can I grow or change? What can I do? What lesson did I take away? We talk about racism a lot, but the time has come to step up our game, seeking out more examples of history and situations to discuss and role play. Although we talked more about this event throughout the day, I’m sure we will be discussing it tonight over dinner.