mixed race families – part 3

April 24, 2010 at 7:59 pm | Posted in adoption issues, race | Leave a comment

What follows is Part 3 of the continuing conversation regarding some things we are doing as we raise our kids in a mixed race environment.

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We have loads of African art in our home.   Now that I think about it, just about all of the paintings hanging on the walls feature black faces.   We have black dolls and books with illustrations including children of color and books that show mixed race families .   We talk about Uganda.   We pray for friends in Uganda.   We thank God (out loud) that He allowed our boys to be begin life in such a wonderful country and from such a wonderful people.

And last week, I did something that made me really nervous.    I wandered over to the information booth at the church we were visiting and waited in line to ask a question of a handsome black man behind the counter.    I said (wondering if this was a ‘stupid-white-person’ question),  “Since I have black children, I’m wondering how you, as a black man, feel about the racial climate in this church?   I mean, when i go to the Mall of America, it’s really diverse.   But when I go to churches, not so much.    What’s it like for you as a person of color being a part of this church?”   (Thankfully, he was more than happy to answer my question and even told me it was a really good question.)

It’s important to us that we raise our boys in such a way that when they look at their world, at least some of it looks like them!

I’m really new at this.   So I’m still hoping that these are good racial awareness moves and not bad (racist) moves.    Hard to know when all I’ve ever been is white and all I’ve ever known is my own culture through  my own eyes.   It’s that old question of, ‘does the fish even know he’s wet?’

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mixed race families – part 2

April 18, 2010 at 8:15 pm | Posted in adoption issues, race | Leave a comment

My boys are black citizens in a primarily white place.  I need to be very aware of that, otherwise my own obliviousness to the world I live in may allow their perspective to be overwhelmed and swallowed up.   Since statistics say that Minnesota is 85% white persons  and less than 5% black persons, we’re going to have to make an effort to ensure that P & Z don’t end up being the only brown faces in every environment they find themselves in!   And around here, that doesn’t ‘just happen’.

Just like it’s my job to make sure they are given nutritious foods and it’s my job to create a safe environment for them to play in and it’s my job to ensure their health is regularly evaluated, it’s also my job (because I’m the grown up and they can’t do it for themselves yet) to help create a racially diverse  experience for us all.    Regular ole ‘default settings’ in the area of race aren’t good enough.

So ~ Here are a few things we’re doing to try to darken the complexion of the world we live in.  They are not spectacular.   They are just faithful ~ faithful to the effort to be consistent and comprehensive in the best way I know how to be.

1) As we look at preschools we ask is, ‘How many non-white children do you have per class?”      And, “Do you have any non-white teachers or staff members in your school?”   I think my little guys can learn their ABC’s just about anywhere.   But they need to do it in an environment where they will not always feel the constant awareness of being different.

I’ve had some people question me about this one.   In response, I’ve simply asked them…. ‘would you put your white child in a school where he is the only white child in the whole building?  How might that make him feel?’  Funny how when it’s flipped, it opens a different level of understanding.

2) I’m looking for professionals in our lives that are non-white people.    Our pediatrician our dentist….. etc.

3) The town about 10 minutes north of us is much more racially diverse than our own town is.    There’s a very large Somalian population there so, as often as I can, we choose to go to that Target instead of the one closest to our house.    When we’re there, we are surrounded by other shoppers of African decent.

more to come………..

mixed race families

April 17, 2010 at 7:40 am | Posted in adoption issues, family, race | Leave a comment

An old high school acquaintance recently looked me up to reconnect and to ask some questions about interracial adoption.   Here’s what he asked me to explain:

…… how will you approach the mixed race issue with your boys as you raise them?

Truth is, I wish I had more of a plan.    I wish I’d spent years living in a mixed race community or doing more to be aware of racial arrogance than just watching Roots or reading Martin Luther King Jr. speeches or enjoying Corina, Corina .

But, it is what it is.   At least for now.

What I AM trying to do is to celebrate Philip and Zach  ~  their history, their color, their ethnicity, their previous citizenship and their current citizenship.    I want to do the mixed race family thing well, but I think we’ll have to figure a lot of it out as it comes.

Sometimes I forget we’re ‘mixed race’.   I look at them and just see my sons.   Yep, they’re dark.   It’s their look.   Just like our other son looks pale with a shock of yellow hair on top.   When I see P & Z, I see expressions and personality and runny noses and long eyelashes and soggy diapers…. just baby stuff.        It’s not until we’re all out in all mall or a restaurant that I actually remember that we don’t all ‘match’.   And that’s only because as a conspicuous family, other people notice us and then I notice them noticing us.   And then I remember.   It’s a non-issue at home.   And it seems like a ‘others-issue’ when we’re out.  (Which is why we need to have intentionality about this in the first place.)

So, raising my boys as minority children in majority culture seems like the real question to respond to.

I’ll add to these thoughts over the next few days, but I’m wondering about you…..

What have some of you done to be more intentional about raising children in a mixed race family?   Anything?

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