Thursday, December 3, 2009

At Harlow's Monkey: Culture vs. Racism

As promised, Harlow's Monkey has another post, Culture vs. Racism, analyzing the Evan B. Donaldson report Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption. She focuses on the study results relating to cultural socialization and preparing kids for racism:

It shows that parents are likely more comfortable with the "cultural socialization" duties, including things like going to ethnic restaurants and attending culture camps or culture schools (especially if the cultural socialization is more about the adopted children socializing and the adoptive parents socializing). What it says in my interpretation is that adoptive parents don't mind so much the fun cultural stuff, what they don't like, and are uncomfortable with, is the preparing kids for racial bias aspect of transracial adoption.

Talking about race is scary stuff. It's scary in my own household, when I talk about it with my teen and my tween, and it always has been. I mean, who likes to tell their children that there are people in this world who might dislike them or even try to hurt them just because of the way they look? But what's scarier to me is thinking that they'll come face-to-face with this on their own without any preparation or understanding of where they can turn to for support. And not only that, I can role model for my kids what to do in situations. When I encounter certain racialized situations, we talk about them at home and talk about my response, and they get the chance to talk about what they would do in those situations.

This is going to be tougher for white adoptive parents with kids of color, since their experiences with racialized discrimination is going to be different. This is why it is so
important that white adoptive parents are part of a diverse community, with trusted friends that can help them navigate some of these harder areas of parenting children of color in a racialized world.
Yes, talking about race and racism can be hard. But the evidence is plentiful that transracial adoptive families can't ignore it, or take the color-blind approach. No matter how "color-blind" you might be, the rest of the world isn't. Since I cannot model how to deal with racism in the same way that Jae Ran can with her same-race children, I am a firm believer in talking explicitly about race and racism with my kids. You might want to check out my post, Being Explicit about Race and Racism (brag, brag, Sapphire, the author of Push, which was made into the movie Precious, commented with approval on that post! (Doesn't take much to make me happy, does it?!)).

And here are some links that might be helpful:

5 Ways to Talk to Your Child About Racism

Love Isn't Enough (formerly Anti-Racist Parent)

Talking to Our Children About Racism & Diversity

Talking to Young Children About Racism

Teaching Tolerance

Young Children & Racism

Don't let the worry about whether you'll get it right keep you from talking to your kids about race and racism. The most important thing is to begin the dialogue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Here's another nugget to chew on:

Will our daughters ever yield to racism themselves? In our highschools, the diversity matches that of the K - 6 population, with 70% of kids being a visible minority, but within that group, kids from continental Africa and the Caribbean are routinely discriminated against. They're dropping out faster, they're streamed differently, they're more likely to be injured or killed in gang violence.

And quite frankly, I watch the dynamics between the Korean family that owns the local general store on the corner and the Black customers and I shudder. My daughter appears colour-blind but I agree, one's own sensibility is not enough to consider. Perhaps I may talk to her about what goes on in the general store one day. (Of course, her only experience in this store is being greeted with the sweetest, loveliest smiles from the owner and her mom. . .) This could be a post, come to think of it.


Thanks for your steadfast coverage of this issue.