Updated: Jun 29, 2020
The recent tragic events surrounding the murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery have gotten me to thinking again about views of race and skin color in this country. Particularly, on a personal level, it’s caused me to reflect on being a white dad who has brown children.
Have you ever known someone who was so altruistic in his or her interactions with people of other races and skin tones that you would describe him or her as “colorblind”? I know I have. I actually thought I was one of these people until my wife and I adopted our first child from India. Usually, we remark about this person, “You know, Mary doesn’t see skin color or race, she just sees who the person is ‘inside.’” Mary would likely be the first to say that this is not possible. You can’t see the “inside” without first noticing the obvious outside.
Recently, I’ve been reading Cheri Register’s thought-provoking little book, “Beyond Good Intentions—A Mother Reflects on Raising Internationally Adopted Children.” Register (who also wrote the excellent book, “Are Those Kids Yours?”) was mom to two children from Korea who are now adults. In “Beyond Good Intentions” she discusses the ten pitfalls of well-meaning White adoptive parents who have children of color. One of the pitfalls she explores is “Race Doesn’t Matter.”
Race DOES matter. I will personally admit, I did not think about how much race mattered until my Indian son came home very upset from school one day—he was in third grade—and when I asked him what was wrong, he replied, “Another boy told me to go back to my country where I came from.” My first impression was to find out who that other kid was and go down to the school and drop-kick him. Thus, my first encounter with racial prejudice through the experience of my own child.
Trying to be colorblind may be a noble thought, but no matter how well-intentioned, it’s just not possible. I will share in my next couple of posts what IS possible, along with some practical parenting suggestions on this topic. Thanks for reading!