I will be honest and say that Walter and I were very naïve when we embarked on our adoption journey and decided to adopt cross culturally. We didn’t give too much thought to the challenges and prejudices we’d be faced with, or how we’d raise our children in a world so inherently prejudice. But my children have opened my eyes and taught me so much about prejudice and racism and how subtle and yet lethal and prevalent it is in our society. It is a blessing to raise these children, we have grown as individuals and I believe, become better people for it.
Over the years, my ability to deal with other people’s prejudice, from the subtle comments like “But you don’t need to tell anyone she’s mixed race/ coloured, because she doesn’t look it!” (and this statement, so carelessly & innocently thrown about by people, smacks of prejudice for me, because in a sense you’re saying we should keep her race a secret like it’s something to be ashamed of), to much more blatant comments, has improved tremendously. Previously, I would have flown into an indignant rage and not handle the comments or commenters very well and probably did more damage to the situation.
But as the years have passed, I’ve learned to contain myself and my responses, and to be far calmer and more rational when dealing with these types of people and comments.
Earlier this week, I saw a commentary about a young child who had asked if white people were allowed to marry “brown” people and the parents response had been that it was a tough question for her to answer.
It immediately made my blood boil. I had to close FB and step away from my phone. Because in my mind, this is not a tough question to answer, not at all. It’s very simple really. Any two people, regardless of colour, gender or gender preference, should be allowed to marry, because marriage should be about two people loving each other irrespective of ANYTHING else. And my daughters are beautiful, intelligent human beings from a good family and they should be and are, according to the laws of our country, allowed to marry whom every they like. Black, white, brown, male or female and any family would be lucky and blessed to have them included into their family circle by marriage.
I agonized over whether or not I should respond to this commentary and what my reasons were for wanting to respond. Was it just a matter of wanting to be confrontational? No. Was it my responsibility as the mother of “brown” children, to respond, to (hopefully) educate and defend the idea of my children’s “brownness”?
I discussed this with Walter as he’s the level headed one in our relationship and I’m the hot head. He’s the calm and I’m the storm. And he said I should respond, that we had a responsibility as an enlightened cross racial family, to share, with love and kindness and in a non-confrontational way, from our own experience of raising “brown” children.
So I did. And I do.
And now my question to all of you is this…. If you were in our position, or if you ARE in our position, a mixed race family, how do you cope with these types of situations? Do you/would you respond? Do you/would you ignore?