When I made the decision to adopt children from countries in Africa I was not color blind. I knew that raising African American children in a Caucasian family would sometimes be a challenge. I knew that my children would at points in their lives be judged by the color of their skin. We live in a fairly conservative community and it is not at all rare for us to walk into a store or a restaurant and get full blown and obvious stares from people (usually younger or older white men).
I have learned to ignore it, but I often wonder what is going on in their heads? The reason I bring this up is that I am very conscious of teaching all of my children not only about Ethiopian and Rwandan culture but also African American history. I believe that their identities depend on it and then they can make the choices that they need to make when they are ready.
So today we attended a MLK celebration organized by the University of Northern Colorado. It was moving and thought provoking but what was missing was a large number of people. We live in a community highly affected by racial tension, primarily targeted at the growing Mexican American population and we also have a growing number of refugees from various African countries now competing between minority groups for jobs. The tension is sometimes obvious but to often the racial divides are hidden or ignored by those of us who live comfortable white middle class lives.
Is this why there were so few people there? I think the messages and progress that Dr. King made are still very relevant today. Not only do I dream that my own children will someday not be judged by the color of their skin but I also dream of a world in which people are not hated and persecuted for all the other things that define us. Research has proven that we do not choose all of these things, they choose us, by the families that we are born (or adopted) into and the genetics that we are unwillingly handed. When I took my first class in my masters counseling program on multicultural counseling I was openly asked to identify one of my own prejudices and to write about it. That was not easy but it was the first step to teaching myself and developing tolerance. This would be a really great activity for MLK day, to identify a prejudice that you still carry and to research and learn and work towards tolerance and acceptance. Just something to think about.
On another note, I am pleased to see that some of the orphans in process of being adopted from Haiti have already arrived to the US on humanitarian visas or their cases are in process. Tonight while watching the local Denver 9 News they featured a family from Loveland, CO who was in Florida and just last night received custody of their two children from Haiti. If anyone in CO knows their contact info, drop me a line as I am trying to connect with as many Northern CO interracial adoptive families as possible. You can see a separate video from CNN with a update on children being moved out of BRESMA orphanage at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/world/2010/01/17/tuchman.haiti.orphans.cnn
I don't think the same little girl that they speak of in this video as going to CO is the same child who I saw on the local news.