As she prepares her son for school, the mother peeps out the front window and watches the pregnant storm clouds flow across the dark sky. She checks the local weather report and her favorite weatherman says there is a 95% chance of a severe thunderstorm for the viewing area. He also states there is an 80% chance the rain will turn to hail.
The mother hugs her son as he walks out the door to begin his quarter mile trip to the bus stop. Her son seems out of place as he joins his friends who accompany him every morning to the bus stop. They all have on rain coats, hats, and are carrying umbrellas.
The mother decided not to prepare her son for the weather. Instead, she believes if I don’t fed in to the thought of bad weather it won’t happen.
I have written this blog several hundreds of times in my mind. I have wrestled with writing it or ignoring it and I have finally decided to address it.
My fear has been if I address this many will get frustrated and not return to my blog .
So up to this point I have been able to skate around it with the collateral damage being minor; minor for me.
Today, I received an email from a transracial adoptive mother asking me to write more specifically about what is necessary for white parents in raising black children.
I get this question a lot and have been answering it in the most politically correct way I know how. But my real answer is much more one sided. The short answer is, “love is not enough.”
I have found there are two schools of thought with transracial adoptive parents. One school says, “Color doesn’t matter, as long as we give them a loving place to live they will be ok.”
The other school says, “In today’s world, love isn’t enough. We must prepare them for the world we live in.”
I strongly side with the second group. It is important that children of color be prepared for the world they will live in and although love is important, it is not enough.
Often, I get the argument that racism still exists today because we allow it to. If you teach your children about racism and that they may be treated differently because they are of-color this is feeding in to racism and will only cause racism to grow.
This is like the mother who sent her child in to a hail storm with no protection because admitting there is a possibility that there will be a hail storm only causes the hail storm to be bigger.
Whether we want to admit it or not, racism exists and it is important you prepare your children for it. Ignoring racism in your household only makes it disappear in your household.
Once they step out in to the world, it is there whether it is in your face or behind your back.
So how do you prepare them?
Talk about the possibility of them being treated differently simply because they are black or of-color.
When do you talk to them about it?
Studies have shown children notice racial differences by ages three or four and have some type of racial encounter by age seven.
You can be the one who introduces this to them or you can let the world do it. You have more control over what gets heard and how it is presented if you do it.
A few weeks ago, I spoke to another transracial adoptee and she told me about her experience growing up. She lived in a rural area where she was one of the only blacks. They never talked about racism or being different in her house but when she went to school she was treated and felt different everyday.
One day she came home and poured several gallons of bleach into a bath tub and got in it. She said she was trying to bleach her skin so she could be more like everyone else around her.
Her parents were shocked when they found out what she did because she never said anything about how she was being treated or how she felt.
The collateral damage to me means nothing if I can prevent such a horrible experience from happening.
After school the little boy returned home, soaking wet with bruises on his arms and head. Just as the weather man said it poured with golf ball-sized hail. The boy was angry at his mom for not preparing him for what could have happened, but he held no harsh feelings against the hail and rain that inflicted the damage.