I was reading this article in Brain, Child. Wonderful magazine. It was written by a woman who is raising two black boys – and she is white. She was talking about all the things she agonizes about: how to teach them about their culture, whether or not she should live in a black area of town, etc. etc.
The article itself didn’t really touch me.
Don’t get me wrong, it was a fine article and it hit on some key worries, etc. What got me was one of the comments in the next issue of Brain, Child in response to this woman.
The one response told her that she was doing a great thing and in the same breath told her that she was doing her children a disservice by not living in a black area, not raising her children in a black environment…etc.
And it got me thinking.
Race is a color of skin.
Not a culture.
This is not necessarily true. But in most cases, who you are raised by decides your culture. And shouldn’t that always be the case, even if your skin tones don’t match?
I am thinking out loud here. But there are a few things I know.
I am very light skinned. And I am adopted.
My brother is not.
When people see me, they think I am white.
When they see my brother, they think he is black.
We are family – we are siblings who love each other.
We both identify ourselves as the children of the children of slaves from the south. We both like soul food. We have the same cousins and traditions. We have the same cultural identity.
We were also both raised in a very white environment. This means that neither of us has many black friends. We both married white spouses. And our children are very light skinned.
Is this a bad thing?
Is this anything other than what it is?
I am loved by my parents for who I am. So is my brother.
But in raising us in a culture that had very few black people in it. Didn’t they create children who were not very “black”? At least culturally?
And is that a bad thing?
I am asking. Truly.
I was raised by parents who love me in a culture that was vastly different than the one they were raised in – and is that a bad thing?
Is it actually culture and not race that makes this obstacle to cross-racial adoption?
Because if so, I say bullshit.
Do white couples who adopt children from China and Russia agonize over raising their children to understand their culture? Do they think about whether or not they should live in China town to make sure their child understands their heritage?
If they do, I don’t see it. I also don’t hear about it.
Why is this different?
How can we change it?
Why should these children here at home sit in foster care when they are just as adoptable, just as lovable, and yes, just as physically different as some of those children abroad?
I am asking.