Race in America is still a touchy subject. Despite the fact that many will claim that racism no longer exist, and that America is a melting pot, if you talk to someone, other than a white middle or upper class American, they would most likely disagree. I will say that America has made huge strides forward. I won't tell you what my political views are, but I did cry when I held my daughter and watched a biracial man take presidency. It was a huge day for race relations in America.
So four years ago when Jason and I told our parents that we were going to move forward with the adoption process we also let them know that we were open to any race, special need, or older child. We felt like God was telling us we would have a black or biracial little girl. So we read books about race, talked to people, and eventually brought home a black little girl. (A little side note: I choose not to call her African American because first of all nobody refers to me as Welsh American, and second of all I don't know what her lineage is.)
We did not walk into this blindly. Despite how "progressive" America now is, we were well prepared for the stares and comments that would probably come our way. We live in a town (and a neighborhood) who has a fair amount of black and whites in their population (with a few Latinos, Asians, and others). Overall I do not feel much animosity when we are in public with our daughter. We have gone to a few other places where we quickly felt uncomfortable by the stares.
Before Abigail was born I had numerous people tell me that black people would be mean to me about adopting a black baby. So I was prepared to defend with how her birth mom chose us despite the fact that we are white. I have NEVER once had a black person say anything mean to me. NEVER. I have had a black lady hug me and tell me God bless you for adopting her. Our black neighbors tell me I'm doing a good job with her hair (which is a huge compliment to me), that she's beautiful, and lots of other things. Never have they condemned my husband or I for adopting a black baby.
On the flip side the only two blatantly horrible things that people have said have come from white men. We get stared at way more by white people when we are out. (I do know that some people are looking because they are curious...I tend to stare when I see other interracial families). For some reason people think that it's okay to share prejudices if they start it with "I'm not racist but..." When I hear this I just go ahead and prepare myself for their "vaguely" racist comment that is coming.
However my three favorite things that have been said to me all came from the mouths of babes. Oh the beautiful innocence of children. The first was a niece. She was telling me how much she loved Abigail's curly hair. I responded with something about how I have always loved black people's hair and been envious of all the cool braiding and things they can do. She looked at me and said, "Why do they call them black? They aren't black they are brown." The second comment came from a second grader at church who said something to the likes of, "Black people's hair is different than ours, I'm not trying to be mean, they just do their hair different." My favorite though was a girl at the doctor's office yesterday. She was asking me if Abigail was a niece or a friend. I could tell she was confused by the race difference. I asked her if it would make more sense if I said she was adopted. She laughed and said, "That does make more sense because your skin is two different colors." I think her mom was a little embarrassed (especially since the waiting room was filled with both black and white people), but I loved it. I wondered how many adults in the waiting room had been wondering the same thing and been too afraid to just ask.
This girl summed up so many things for me. It's okay to notice a difference in people. I notice people with red hair because it's not very common. I notice people who are extremely tall or extremely short. None of these things define who these people are, they are just features that are very noticeable. People notice other people's skin color. That in and of it's self is not bad; it is what you do with your thoughts about their skin color that makes the noticing either normal or prejudice.
So glad to have a child who makes me think about these things,