Friday, November 18, 2011

Love is NOT Colorblind

At the Livesay[Haiti]weblog, an exploration of that troublesome phrase, "Love is colorblind." It's a long and important post, so you should go read the whole thing, but I find THIS paragraph to be THE point:
When your adopted minority child looks in the mirror he/she sees black, brown, peach, yellow, tan, etc. skin looking back. For that child to hear us say that our love is “colorblind” can be far more hurtful than any of us would dream. What we mean is that our love for them transcends color and ethnicity. But what they often hear is “I don’t see part of you.” We so desperately want to affirm our children in the security of our unconditional love that we miss the point. What if Tara came to me tomorrow and said, “Amie, I’m going to overlook the fact that you are a red-headed freckle factory and continue loving you anyway”? Besides how completely ironic that would be given our shared features, it would also hurt me deeply because the very nature of such a statement implies that my traits are unbecoming and undesirable and something to be overlooked in order to find me acceptable. Our children want to be accepted because of who they are –inside and out- not in spite of it.
YES! This is the same point I was trying to make, though not as eloquently, in the post, Parenting While Not Noticing Race:
You're essentially saying to a child, "I don't think of you as Black or Asian or Latino," when you refuse to acknowledge that race exists. You're denying part of your child. How can that be good?

* * *

I just don't get it -- how can parents adopting transracially ignore the race of their children? Do your love your child because of their race or in spite of it? Loving your child because of his or her race is loving ALL of your child, not just some parts of your child. Please love all of your child, including the color of their skin. Please.
So let's all agree to strike that phrase from our vocabulary.  Love is not colorblind. Love sees and revels in ALL colors! As Amie says at the Livesay blog, "Love that overlooks is belittling. Love that acknowledges is accepting." Show your child accepting love, acknowledging love:  "I love you because of your race, not in spite of it."


Anonymous said...

thank you - this is why i read your blog. stuff like this. i hope you get back to more of this and less of how bad adoption is. people need post adoption parenting info not how bad we are for adopting.

Anonymous said...

Anon1- I couldn't have said it better myself about the getting back to less of how bad adoption is.

As for being "color blind" I don't love my daughter because of her color. To me, that is just as superficial as loving someone in spite of their color. But I do accept her for who she is. All that she is. Turned around, I do not think my daughter looks at me and says to herself, "she's white. I love her for being white" But she DOES look at me and say to herself, "She's my mommy, and I love her for being my mommy". And I would NOT expect her to love me for being white, either.

Anonymous said...

This is anon2 again...
IMO, Love IS colorblind as well as being physically blind. I met my husband on the internet, and we chatted for a year before meeting each other in person. I already loved him before I met him, and in fact, I loved him before I saw his picture (one month after chatting began).
When we actually met, the color and physicality of it was just additional info. But "love being colorblind" is different from acknowledging and accepting the color or physical nature of someone else. Love IS colorblind...but love is not physical.

Amanda said...

That was a great post!

Anon #1, first you said she talks too much about how "bad adoption is" and then "how bad we are for adopting."

Did you know those two things are not the same?

Adoption is an institution, not a person. Adoption impacts the world's most vulnerable people! We need to pick it apart, critique it, and call it out when it does bad things....ALL without taking it personally. Saying adoption needs to be fixed is NOT the same as saying adoptive parents are bad people.

If we stop talking about the problems in adoption, the bad parts about it can never be fixed. Malinda is a rarity among AP blogs. I am very appreciative of the ones who focus on the issues as well as include adult adoptees in their perspectives.

Amanda said...

Anon #2

I think you're misunderstanding what the concept of "colorblindness" as it pertains to issues of race means. "Colorblindness" has been termed by sociologists as the "new modern racism." The most notorious form of racism is biological determinism--meaning, that the color of your skin determines your behavior saying that people of color are genetically inferior.

The "answer" to this in our society has been to go to the opposite extreme and say that instead of noticing skin color, you're "blind" to it. Another word for this is "erasure." It means that you "erase" or "ignore" what makes someone different in order to award them the status of the racial majority (White people) as though it were an upgrade.

The fact of the matter is, if someone really thought that a person of color was equal to a White person, they would accept them for who they are, period. They would not have to be "blind" to the color. To be "blind" to someone's difference means that there is something wrong with it and therefore, it's good to ignore it.

The ability to claim colorblindness is a large part of White privilege.

I love is not blind and it does not erase. "Tolerance" and "acceptance" are also weak gestures. I appreciate all around me and am thankful when they appreciate me for what diversity and difference I bring to the world.

Anne said...


Thank you for sharing your opinion as expressed in your comments. They are well thought out and beautifully articulated. I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

You articulated my thoughts better than I could have done.
Anon 3

Pix said...

Oh, super super great post! I've had this same conversation with other family members who say they "don't even see his race". I vehemently stated that we are proud of him and where he comes from and his race IS part of him. Therefor, to deny or ignore that tells him that his race is something to be ashamed of.

One other source for a great insight to how children view race--the book Nurture Shock has a chapter on children and race. Through evaluations and testing with children, they determined that kids start to acknowledge race as early as 6-months old. The way to help children start to understand and appreciate the beautiful color spectrum is to incorporate race into everyday life and daily discussions. Learning to have empathy and understanding for all races will help children (especially minority children) understand more about what race is.

Pix--Cheese Curds and Kimchi

Anonymous said...

amada - of course i know they aren't the same. adoption is a process (AP'S/orphans are people in the process) and this blog finds the process corrupt and i'm sick of hearing how bad it is. it's also an attack of ap's and that sickens me. i'm sorry i voted for the blog on adoptive families. can't you focus on post adoption issues that we face every day? the negative spin on the posts saddens me. i agree, some corruption has been there (mostly in the past but probably some now), however adoption is a GOOD thing.

LisaLew said...

Great post, thought provoking.

Meia said...

I find this phrase jarring: "I love you because of your race, not in spite of it."

I think I understand your intention behind it and it of course meant well. However, the phrase "because of your race" excludes other things (reasons to love) in a weirdly grammatical way, and puts the focus on the race factor unnecessarily.

I think neither of those words - "because" and "in spite of" work here. It is something in between the two. I think the phrase "I love you for you" is adequate - and nothing else needs to be factored in. Just because race is a factor and is not mentioned does not mean it is simply being relegated to the side.

The issue about colorblindness feels a bit overly politically correct to me though I'm not really familiar with it outside of this post.