Tag Archives: Racism and kids

A Lesson in Racism

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.

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Filed under Adoptive Mom's Perspective, Multicultural Families, The International Mom

The Race Thing

Josi is heading off to Mexico with her classmates shortly.

Excited? Is she ever!

Am I? Yes and no.

P9050043By traveling without me or her dad, she is fostering more independence. Granted, she will be under the watchful eye of her capable and trustworthy teachers. Being a very seasoned traveler, she is ready and poised to travel.

While in Mexico for ten days, Josi will be immersed in the culture of Mexico. This is not new to her. As a family we seek immersion when we travel. We believe it enriches the travel experience, opens our kids up, and teaches them about the world outside the U.S. In past years she has traveled with us to areas in Mexico that are not inundated with tourists.

Josi has had a taste of the rich beauty of Mexico. She has also experienced racism. I know because I was there to witness it – the gawking stares, the stunned expressions upon seeing her, the pulling of the corners of the eyes to point out the shape of her eyes. And the talk. What they didn’t realize was that she understood every single word they said. She handled it by choosing to ignore it. But I, well my feathers were more than a bit ruffled. Without language skills, I was not able to be proactive or reactive.

Protective mama needs to take a deep breath and remain confident that Josi’s teachers will handle it well, if it occurs. They are all native speakers, two are Mexican and one is Spanish. They are wonderful compassionate human beings.

So, I again need to gently open up the race dialogue with my daughter, one she doesn’t have much interest in. It isn’t a comfortable conversation, but it is necessary. Racism exists everywhere on the planet and only by talking about it will she have the ability to navigate it.

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Filed under Adoption Issues, Adoptive Mom's Perspective, International Adoption, Multicultural Families, Parenting, The International Mom