Thursday, December 15, 2011

Culture Isn't Enough -- APs Must Address Race

From the Kansas City InfoZine:
Parents tote their children to ethnic restaurants and cultural festivals, but are often oblivious to the biases and racism their children sometimes face.

“What we find is that parents are pretty good about the culture part, but not very good about the race part,” Victor Groza, professor of parent-child studies at Case Western Reserve University, said. “They don’t recognize racism.”

Groza said parents generally don’t create an atmosphere where it’s all right to talk about race as their transracially adopted children grow up in what are typically white communities.

* * *

Susan Cox, vice president of public policy for Holt International, said the agency, which places about 600 children a year for intercountry adoption, tries to advise parents about potential risks, but the message rarely hits home.

“You could talk about all the things that could be and the things that will happen, but it’s really difficult for a family to relate to that,” Cox said. “When their child is small they think, ‘Oh, that won’t ever happen to me.’”
The piece addresses Jane Jeong Trenka's important memoir, The Language of Blood, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute's report, Beyond Culture Camp: Promoting Healthy Identity Formation in Adoption, and includes quotes from JaeRan Kim of Harlow's Monkey.

And here are my pleas for talking about race and racism with our transracially adopted kids:

Being Explicit About Race and Racism

Parenting While Not Noticing Race

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

This really relates back to your Dec. 14 posting.

The colorblind notion is so strong, it's hard to see past it (pun intended.)

Reena said...

What I have noticed is that white families tend to be somewhat insulated from prejudice. If you are a white parent to white children living in a predominately white area and are not racist-- race rarely comes up as an issue. You don't consider 'race' because you are not racist and racism doesn't really enter your life because you are white and part of the majority.

If you are part of a multi-racial family, racism does effect your life because those members of your family will encounter racism.

When I have mentioned some racist things that have happened to one of my bi-racial stepkids-- I have heard comments from more than one of my mom friends (white- all white family) that they never encounter any racism where they live.

The live in the 'same' area that we do. It is simply that racism doesn't enter their life because their entire family is part of the majority.

Yes, it is vitally important that we talk explicitly to our children about race.

Reena said...

What I have noticed is that white families tend to be somewhat insulated from prejudice. If you are a white parent to white children living in a predominately white area and are not racist-- race rarely comes up as an issue. You don't consider 'race' because you are not racist and racism doesn't really enter your life because you are white and part of the majority.

If you are part of a multi-racial family, racism does effect your life because those members of your family will encounter racism.

When I have mentioned some racist things that have happened to one of my bi-racial stepkids-- I have heard comments from more than one of my mom friends (white- all white family) that they never encounter any racism where they live.

The live in the 'same' area that we do. It is simply that racism doesn't enter their life because their entire family is part of the majority.

Yes, it is vitally important that we talk explicitly to our children about race.

Reena said...

Sorry for the double post.

oneinchofgrace said...

I agree with the comment about colorblindness. people tend to think that if they don't address race, it's a sign of tolerance.

choose joy said...

We've lived in British Columbia for the past 10 years of parenting our ethnically diverse children. It's very hard when every Canadian I talk to tells you, "oh, no, we're not racist. That's strictly an American issue." So what my children tell me must be figments of their imaginations! Ugh...we talk a lot about it among ourselves but no one around us validates our experience, which makes it hard. Side note...we are moving back to the US this month...to an area that reflects better the diversity of our family.