This blog post from The Stir has me REALLY stirred up. It is entitled “Racial Sensitivity Courses Should be Mandatory for Adoptive Parents”. Um…WHA? The article asserts that adoptive parents should have to learn about the culture and community that corresponds with whatever race of child they choose to adopt. The writer says that by the parents not knowing about the culture from which these adopted children come from, makes them less “who they are” and that they won’t know their “personal history”. The author also goes on to say that no matter how badly we all want an “ethically ambiguous utopia where we are all raceless faces appreciating one another for the people we are inside”, that it’s not going to happen.
This makes me incredibly hot because in this country we are bombarded by people screaming for equality. I personally don’t see color. A person’s skin tone means less to me than the color of their hair. Saying that White America (let’s be honest; that’s who this article was written about), will never not see race is like saying that blondes and brunettes in Germany would never live in harmony after the Holocaust, which certainly isn’t the case.
Furthermore, the children being adopted from other countries by parents of different races are being given a new “personal history”. When a child moves here with an American family, no matter what their race is, they are now AMERICAN. Their personal history, despite the color of their skin, involves the landing of The Mayflower, the pillaging of Indians, the purchase of slaves from Africa, the use of indentured servants from Europe, the Civil War, Prohibition, the industrial age, the segregation and then desegregation of schools, the KKK, the landing on the moon, and everything else that involves US History. These children’s new personal histories include Baseball games, Basketball, American Football, 4th of July Celebrations, Memorial Day, Labor Day and all of the other US holidays in between. Their personal history means that they are now American, no matter the shape of their eyes, the color of their skin, or the coarseness of their hair. These children do not have to live in bondage to their original places of birth, their original financial situation, or their original demographic. These children are given new beginnings to their lives and I don’t see what a racial sensitivity course would do for these children and their parents but help to divide the races even further.
Why can’t we live in a world where skin color is just as insignificant as the color of someone’s eyes or hair? Why does the fact that my great-great grandparents owned black slaves or the fact that my great-great-great-great grandparents were indentured servants have to mold who I am today? Why does the fact that my mom went to a segregated school have to have ANYTHING to do with me?
I’m not at all saying that we should ignore history. Many horrible things have happened in this world that are noteworthy, but we are where we are today because of the strength of a few people including but not limited to: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Rosa Parks, Booker T. Nelson, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela, Susan B. Anthony, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. These people suffered, pressed on, and stood up for their personal beliefs bringing forth the life of a new country, the death of slavery, the beginning of desegregation, the birth of racial equality, and the commencement of women’s rights. These people endured hateful oppression and stood up to their oppressors so that we wouldn’t have to have ‘Racial Sensitivity Courses’ when we adopted children from different countries or ethnicities. Correct me if I’m wrong but Martin Luther King Junior’s dream was that his “four children would be able to live in a nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” And that one day “on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners would be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.” How does requiring a white adoptive parent to take “Racial Sensitivity Courses” do anything to further this dream? Are we supposed to teach Japanese American adoptees that their Grandparents bombed Pearl Harbor in December of 1941 and that they will be looked at differently than white or black people whose grandparents helped to initiate revenge? Do we need to teach American Indian adoptees to hate white people because they raped their grandparents’ way of life and pillaged their land?
It is my experience as a white woman who was raised in southeastern Alaska that my history involves American Indians as much as it involves European settlers as much as it involves African American slaves. The color of my skin should not dictate the way that I speak, dress, or eat. It should not affect the way I view my place in society, my education, or the success of my career. As a northern-raised woman who went to college in the South, I can also attest to my experiences with racism. I’ve been called horrible names by African-American women because I was hanging out with “their men”. I’ve heard Caucasian men kick a beautiful half African-American woman out of a party because of the pigment of her skin. Racism is not unilateral. Where does it end and how can it end if you, yourself, aren’t willing to part with the past? (And by you, I mean YOU reading this, whatever your heritage may be).
I believe that until we, as individuals view ourselves as equal, our world will continue to be a place filled with bigotry and ignorance. You are no different than me due to the amount of melanin in your skin, the shape of your eyes, or the language spoken by your birth parents. We are equal in my eyes and it saddens me to think that you, whomever you may be, may feel differently.
I have a dream that my three little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin or the shape of their eyes, but by the content of character. And it is my job as their mother, to help mold their characters to be worthy of judgement.
-Written while my eldest “little child” plays outside with two little Asian boys, one African American boy, and one Caucasian boy in complete harmony, no one aware of the fact that they all have very different skin tones.