Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Judge not

When I picture my future daughter, she looks like this.

Like so many others I have been thinking a lot about race and the Trayvon Martin case. When the story first came out I found myself getting scared over people jumping to conclusions about race, and the media sensationalism of the case. And those issues till do bother me. But as time as progressed, I've found myself thinking more and more about racism. On Monday night I watched the first part of the CNN special on how children view race, and found myself absolutely astounded at what the children said and how they reacted.
I find racism abhorrent. Period. There is never an excuse for racism. I do find that I will fall into "profiling" without realizing I am doing it. Not necessarily racial profiling, but more image or cultural profiling. "People who dress a certain way want you to treat them a certain way." I'm trying not to do that, and really have worked hard to correct my own assumptions and shortcomings in this area. While it isn't as harmful or bigoted as racism and racial profiling can be, I deal enough with people looking at me and making assumptions about the type of person I am. I look considerably younger than my age, and thanks to the blond hair, people do have a very annoying habit of treating me as if they expect me to be young and irresponsible. Again, it isn't harmful or bigoted, but I do know how annoying that can be. I figure what I am dealing with is 1/10th of what other people deal with when it comes to racial profiling. I can't imagine how awful that is to deal with.
I have never made it a secret that I plan to be a foster parent someday. Hopefully sooner rather than later (see yesterday's post on goals). And along with that, I have no expectations of getting a little white girl from an upper class family. All racism and profiling aside, that just almost never happens in the foster care system. I expect to be given the privilege of parenting a child of another race and background. As I have said many time before, I expect my children to be every shade and color of the human race. And so when I hear President Obama say, "If I had a son he would look like Trayvon," it resonates with me. Because even though it hasn't happened yet, I hope to someday have a son who looks like Trayvon. (My dear friend Lindsey at the R House blogged on this same subject today. Her 2 adopted sons are not Caucasian, and she is rightfully scared.) 
There are moments when I get angry that people jump to conclusions about race. And yet there are moments where I completely understand where Pat Buchanan is coming from. But more than anything, I want to get mad that boys like Trayvon live up to the stereotype. I want an end to racism and profiling, but I also want to hear that Trayvon wasn't suspended from school for marijuana possession. I am scared for Lindsey's boys, and my friend Sara's 2 adopted children from Ethiopia. But then, there are moments my conflicted heart isn't worried about them, because I know that their dear children will not be raised in a culture and home where crime is glorified, or certain activities and appearances even allowed. I with boys like Trayvon didn't say what he said in his Twitter feed. I wish more mothers were like Lindsey and say that their boys won't wear hoodies so they won't be mislabeled and stereotyped. (No, I don't think the hoodie is at fault. Read her post.) I wish more mothers cared about the culture and image her son portrays.
I love to travel the world for the eye-opening experiences, and for the education I get when it comes to accepting other cultures. Sometimes it can be hard to accept other cultures here at home, but when traveling abroad you learn to love those cultures. I fully support cultural identity and colors. But my heart is torn about supporting this growing African-American culture in our country. I want them to hold on to their culture and roots- I truly do. But I don't agree with this thug and crime lifestyle that is glorified in some aspects of it. If you don't want your boys to be mistaken for thugs, stop promoting the culture that encourages them to look like thugs. If you want to be treated equally, start treating your own equally. (Have you seen the comments by the New Black Panthers?)
I keep wondering what can I do? How can I help stop racism? And how can I continue to improve my own shortcomings in this area? I am scared because, like Lindsey and Sara, I worry that someday a child that I haven't even met yet, but will be mine, will be stereotyped and profiled for the color of his or her skin. I'm scared because I know that someday someone will think the worst of my child because of the color of his or her skin. And I think it is even worse that someday someone will forgive the child who didn't do anything wrong when they see that mommy/I have white skin. And maybe even worse yet, someone will be proud of me for "taking on" a child of a different race, as if it is a hardship.
A child is a child is a child. The only thing that should matter is that the child is taught right and wrong, and is prepared to live a life defined by right and wrong. There should never have to be a justification for what is right or wrong based on skin color.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Erin!

    I've been following your blog for a long time, since I found you on Peace Corps Journals. I don't know if you can see the inherent racism within Pat Buchanan's article, but it is there, and it is appalling. Have you ever thought about the fact that people live up to stereotypes because that is the only thing we give them in life? And more people than just African-American teens use and abuse weed?

    I think you should do a lot of readings into race and power into American society. I'm not saying that you are stupid, because I find you highly intelligent, I just think you don't clearly see the place of privilege from which you come. Trust me, as a white woman, it hurts to look at, but with the knowledge comes the power to help overcome it.

    I hope this comment doesn't seem rude or out of place; I really just want you to examine further where you are coming from. I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!


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