Wednesday, February 2, 2011
He asked if we could pretend that he was white.
Sadness, bewilderment, helplessness were the emotions I felt as he said those words. Kaden wishes his skin was white. He tells me that often..and he means it. He tells me that he has to smoke when he is older because that is what black people do. He is afraid he can't be a train driver, because he doesn't think Black people drive trains. He tells me that he wishes here were just like me.
I don't know why this child has been given this struggle to fight so fiercely within his mind. While all of our children of color, being raised in this white home have had moments of struggling, none have had such a battle with perception of what it means to be white..what it means to be black. Forgive the pun, but Kaden see all things in black and white. He has limited ability to accept the reality that not all things are not as he perceives them...and there is no convincing him of something different. Kaden filters his world experiences through his brain that is not able to process things in the way that we do. He gets stuck.
But, I am praying that the teaching of spiritual truths that we so want him to grasp, can bypass his brain dysfunction, and reach his heart directly. What can I say to him about being black? or being white? There is little I can share...
I am not black. I barely feel white..as majority culture in our society, we have the luxury of rarely ever having to confront our color. We just are who we are. Not because we have done anything on our own to accept our racial identity, but because we are the majority. We call that "white privilege" although I find that white people don't want to hear that. As able bodied people (our cultures majority), we don't walk around with the thought that we have two arms and two legs all day long, but if we had lost a limb, we would have that in the back of our mind most all of the time. So to with race.
I know that I have asked my kids of color to take on something that I don't have to deal with everyday. Our community is not diverse. And each day at school, my kids of color are reminded of that. When they step out that door, they represent their color whether they want to or not. There is no blending in with the crowd. We didn't adopt transracially naively. We recognized that we didn't have the answers...but we knew as clearly as God was directing us to walk this path, that he would provide a way for us to navigate the racial climate of our world. All of our kids have handled this in different ways. With openness and acknowledgement, we do what we can to help find their place in this world.
But more importantly, we give them what it is we know. That race is not who we are. It is a piece of us. But we are so much more than our race, our size, our culture, or our ability. We are made in the image of God...and God loves diversity.
at 9:20 AM