Friday, February 20, 2009

Not Another Racism Post

I'm quite sure my friends get tired of hearing about racism. So, fair warning, this is a serious post...a sort of rant. If you are not in the mood skip this one.

Since adopting and becoming a interracial family, I have made it a point to learn as much as I can about racism. What it is. How to fight it. How to react. What to do. All that. Sounds kind of silly to a lot of people, but I found that about 80% of the whites I know don't have any idea that this is still a big problem in our country. We are literally able to go about our daily lives and never be touched by it in a significant way. We live in a bubble. And in this country, that is very easy to do if you are white. That is just wrong. That is white privelge.

So I read web sites. I read books. I watch programs.

I try.

I want the best of the world. I want the best for my daughter. I don't want to ignore or shrug off any racism she deals with in life. I might not be able to empathize, but I want to support, fight and sympathize as determined by what she needs of me.

To learn these things you need a voice of experience. Hence all the reading. Adoptee blogs and websites abound. For 4 years I have read them. And its not easy. Having anger directed at you for an issue you did not cause is hard. Having anger directed at you for the privilege of living in a bubble...once again something that was provided for me, not by me....is hard. But it needs to be recognized and torn down.

I've fought the racist comments in my own family...even the "well meaning" use of word deemed unacceptable by other races. I've had these conversations with other adoptive parents. I talk to my friends about it. I point out to complete strangers when they say something that is racist. I'm not 100% right on ... but I am actively taking steps and striving. But you know what? I can always chose to step away from this and return to a world where race is not an every day issue. White privelge. That's wrong.

First, let me say to all those who will say this...... being picked on, singled out for a feature, and made fun of for something...IS NOT RACISM. Racism is so much more than that. The fact that you have never been in that position does not mean it does not exist. Racism is soul deep and can be life destroying. Racism is being thought of and treated like you are less than human. You are sub-par. You are kept from things and oportunities based on nothing more than your skin color. You FEAR for no other reason than what can be done to you because of the color of your skin.

Now, many people will ignore what I just said. Because I'm white, I'm not talking with a voice of authority. It's all second hand. So, in order to get resistant, ignorant (not stupid, just didn't know) people to listen, you have to have a voice of experience.

And there's where it all breaks down.

In the last four years this is what I've run up against at almost every turn.

1. The victims are not responsible for being our teachers. Yes. This makes sense. Do you really think people of color want to spend all their time dealing with white people trying to learn about race? They already live under it...why should they spend even more time on this mess by teaching whites what they don't know? Can you imagine how you'd feel? Dealing with ignorance or hate is not a pleasant thing to do on the best of days. Especially when you did nothing to bring this on.

I'd also like to point out that the biggest changes are usually made by victims. They are vested in the outcome and will fight harder. The horrible death of Adam resulted in the show "America's Most Wanted" which removed many criminals from our streets. The victim made these changes. I'm sure that you can think of other examples to support this.

So no, the victims should not be required or expected in any way to be our teachers....but they are the most effective ones to make the changes we need. The victims also happen to be the experts.

Breakdown. And I don't see any fix for this one.

2. The adoptee's I have read (notice I did not say ALL ANGRY adoptees) that are against interracial adoption do not appear to be interested in solving the problems. They are having their say and trying to find others to relate to. They tend to be angry about the racism where they grew up and the lack of support from their white parents or peers. A good thing to be angry about. They tend to want all interracial adoptions stopped because of these conditions. And adoptee's that don't feel this way are often told that they are just burying the truth inside of them or lying to keep from hurting their parents feelings.

Then they turn around and use all the tactics, language, and finger pointing that they accuse the the whites of using. Things like "all adoptive parents". Isn't that the same as saying "all blacks or browns"? Lumping them all together and erasing individuality? They tell us we CAN'T learn. It's an ISM. I am a racist because I adopted a child of another race? I'm a racist because I disagree or ask questions about a brown persons actions or words that are the same as white racist use?

When I've ask how its different.....I've been called a racist and told I'm too stupid to understand or just flat out not capable because I'm white. But I'm asking. I WANT to understand. I WANT to be able to make others understand. I'm asking the voice of authority on this. And you know the most common thing I hear? Seeking power for colored people is not the same thing as disenfranchising whites.

So its about wanting power? Ok. All people should have power...or be on the same level with the same oportunities. Too bad that as I ask questions, their use of power is to respond in the same ways they complain about being treated. It's wrong from either side. It looks like they want to do to others all that has been done to them. All I'm seeing so far is abuse of power. And yes, I believe that non-whites ARE the authority or power on the topic of racism.

And yes, I'm very sure there are many whites that ask questions that are really being hateful and resisting. To drive away all the others that are actively trying to learn and make changes...and need to know how something is different when it looks just the same. Huge Breakdown.

3. After the name calling, being told I can not understand or change or whatever..... THEN there is the complaint that the whites always just throw up their hands and say nothing will ever change so why should I even try.

Knocked down at every turn. Treated in the manner we are told/know it is wrong to treat others. Dismissed as stupid or unable to learn. Treated with contempt.

On the other hand, walk away from it. Sink back into the oblivion of white privege.

What do you think most people are going to do?

As for me, I'll keep reading. I'll keep trying to fight the powers that be on issues that are racist. I will do my best to be vigilant in my area. I will do what I can to support my daughter and the things she will deal with. I will support whatever fight she wants to bring on - and how much involvement she wants me to have.

And its not enough.

PS - I will also do what I learned from these adoptees....I will use the delete button on comments that don't support my views. (Not.) Just watch your language please, its a family blog.

5 comments:

  1. What a honest, well-written post. And an excellent point that the victims should not be put in the position of being our teacher. I had truly never thought of that but I totally agree. You've given me a lot to think about here.

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  2. Call me ignorant, but I didn't realize that children from Asia were considered of a different race. Yes, I live in a box. ;)

    But what do I know?

    Don't know as I'd ever look at your daughter as anything but adorable, and I'm sorry you deal with this issue. Until you opened my eyes about it, I would've figured adopting a child like yours (being that she's foreign in her background) would be a walk in the park. I remember you writing something quite awhile back about the stares you have to put up with. Me? When I see sweet children, esp. when it's obvious that they're adopted, I just want to applaud the parents.

    Guess ignorance involves an innocent attitude sometimes too, doesn't it?

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  3. please see the link >

    http://about-orphans.blogspot.com

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  4. I totally gree! thanks for speaking!

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  5. "Having anger directed at you for the privilege of living in a bubble...once again something that was provided for me, not by me....is hard. But it needs to be recognized and torn down."

    Absolutely.

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