Friday, October 27, 2006

Racism

Jae Ran of Harlow's Monkey is a wonderful, informative blogger whose thoughts on race and adoption I have found very enlightening. She mentioned the following terribly unfortunate fact in one of her posts this week:

There are still adoptive parents out there who believe that racism
doesn’t exist. There are adoptive parents who believe that when we adoptees talk
about our experiencs of racism we are just “whining” or attention-seeking.


Elsewhere this week, I participated in a discussion that centered around an article written by a transracial adoptee about his experiences growing up in his adoptive family and their culture. I would love to spend some time focusing on some of the issues that have been brought to adoptive parents' attention time and again, through the powerful spoken and written truths of adoptees, but for now I am going to basically vent about how the adoptive parents' discussion proceeded after reading the article. There is heavy, careful censorship in most areas that APs congregate on-line to discuss "issues" - or the quick threat of censorship as soon as a view is expressed that might 'hurt' someone (an AP - not an adoptee, of course) and I find that so stifling and just plain wrong. So I thought I would use my own space to replay the discussion a bit.

Early up was an AP responder who disagreed that our country is a racist society. Also wondered if perhaps our children of Asian heritage might not face the same issues as a black/African American TRA (the author of the article), since the historical racial stereotypes and problems of the two groups are so different. (My translation: Our kids are white enough to pass through life without too much trouble, so we don't need to concern ourselves too much with figuring out how to help our children face racism). Score one for those in denial.

Next up was someone who thought that the author had some 'major issues', not the least of which was the fact that part of the black heritage he has chosen to embrace includes racism against whites. Of course this particular commenter has also met black people who were racist towards ALL whites. Score one for the 'reverse racism' battle cry....

Next - Well, this guy (author) is a big, fat racist, of course! AND a crybaby!! He can move to a place called 'Victimland' and the world will be a better place.

Then a repeat-offender who had to bring to our attention the fact that there are People of Color in high positions of authority in this country - and even went on to name a few! So, well, of course that proves what great strides we are making.

An adoptee tried to interject that she could really identify with the experiences of the article's author.

Next up - a reminder (from an AP) that not all adoptees feel the way the author does.

Shortly thereafter, the threat of having the discussion locked down by a moderator. Yay. Oh, and of course, that was proposed NOT as a reaction to all the racist crap that I've mentioned above. That didn't need to be said until after the adoptee had tried to speak.

Repeat offender who reminded us all, with a fabulous misuse of the term 'racists', that all racists aren't white. Anyone at all can be 'racist'.

Then the discussion started to dwindle into whether or not it is okay for APs to say we are 'color blind' (because of course most people don't mean that they don't 'see' a person's color...they mean something different).

**

I can't even really wrap my brain around each different person's perspective enough to be of any assistance in helping people see things differently - but I do know that I'm sooo tired of not being able to have any discussion, to learn, to find common ground and help one another, that I fear we APs, collectively, will be stuck here forever. EVERY discussion is stifled or detracted from by people who - I don't even know - live in fear that their family structures, their love for their children, will somehow be invalidated by acknowledging and really 'seeing' racism in this country and admitting the difficulties inherent in living the life of a TRA?? I think fear has much to bear on this situation.

To me, what will eventually 'invalidate' TR adoptive families, is the fact that white people have chosen to bring children of color into their homes and then proceed to raise them without trying to understand their hurts, fears, issues, feelings, opinions, and without doing anything to help prepare them for what life doles out in this racist society. As (mostly) white folks, we can't give our transracially-adopted children all the skills and understanding they will need. But to deny their experiences is the worst trespass, in my opinion.

Jae Ran also rejoiced this past week,

We are no longer going to be relegated to the “adoptee panels” and the “personal
essays” in the adoption field. We are now what I term the Authors of our own
stories, the Teachers, the Experts.


I'm not a much of a crier, but that brought tears to my eyes when I read it. White APs, social workers, the general population, are *not* the expert voices in International Adoption - adoptees themselves are the Experts. Their voices speak the truth, and I beg my fellow APs to listen.

7 Comments:

At 5:35 PM , Blogger Kahlan said...

I *just* logged on to write on this very subject, but you beat me to it. You also put into words what I want to say much better than I ever could, so I will just say thanks. I am so disappointed at how that discussion turned out. I think all we can do is continue educating ourselves and others when possible. Most won't ever waiver from their views, but maybe one or two will listen and change can begin. It just makes me so damn sad.

 
At 5:10 PM , Blogger Third Mom said...

Well said. But take heart - voices like yours are slowly being heard. Keep writing, keep talking, it makes a difference!

 
At 7:49 PM , Blogger cloudscome said...

Thanks for that article link. It fits right into what I have been reading/posting about lately. I am sad to hear of the discussion. It is discouraging, but not surprising. But yes - keep writing and talking. It does make a difference.

 
At 7:42 PM , Blogger Mo said...

I like to look at this discussion from a positive angle. Remember that twenty years ago the conversation would not even have been possible. Open dialogue can be incredibly painful sometimes, but it can also promote change. It starts with a whisper and, when all the voices come together, the message becomes loud and clear.

 
At 8:30 AM , Blogger zoe said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:36 AM , Blogger zoe said...

Thanks all for the encouragement - and thanks for commenting on our blog, Mo.

I just have a huge dislike for the apparent belief that if our children are negatively affected or have any sense of disconnect or dual identity as a result of the racism they might experience while growing up in our families, they will be perceived by some (the majority in the case of this recent AP discussion) as taking on a 'victim' role.

I would hate to see my son struggle with identity issues, as I know every AP would. I just don't think that he has to 'buck up' (pretend racism doesn't exist or doesn't affect him) or be labeled as a 'victim'. That's really sad. Most of all, I would never want him to be victimized by my refusal to believe his experiences.

 
At 8:37 AM , Blogger zoe said...

BTW - the deleted comment was my own that I was attempting to edit. Oops!

 

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