Thursday, April 1, 2010

Racism - Do we "get" it?

I have been feeling kind of fired up about race relations recently, after reading about a white racist gang at a High School in the Madison area.  I hope by sharing my journey, I can be part of the solution, not the problem.

As many of my readers know, we began our adoption journey to Michael in 2003.  For those of you not familiar with adoption, there is a lot of parent training and preparation involved prior to placement.  If you are open to adopting a child of another race or ethnicity, that training includes cross-cultural training.  This training is intended to prepare you for what you might encounter as a cross-cultural family, and to give you an idea of what it may be like for your child to be in your family.

I was resistant, and I didn't get it.  Michael was home a year before I realized this.  As a person who grew up in largely minority portions of a large metro area, I thought I knew what was going on in the world of race relations.  I thought that because my friends and family of color didn't talk to me about racism, that it wasn't happening to them.  I truly beleived that the US had done a lot of healing in the 15 to 20 years that preceeded my high school experience.  I thought that white priveledge was a thing of the past.

I was wrong.  I can pin point just the time that I realized that. As cross-cultural parents, Pete and I have continued to focus on learning what it would be like for our children as they grow up in a race concious society.  To that end, we have attended far more training than what is required by the adoption agency.  It was at one of these sessions that I finally got it (or at least understood better than before).  I let myself hear the adoptive mom's stories of racism that she and her children had faced.  Not before my time, but now, recently.  I let myself hear her story of being attacked by a druggie in a church, in a minority neighborhood, and that the police had to be called multiple times only to respond when they were informed a white woman was being attacked.  I let myself look through the eyes of the minority room mate on an episode of "The Real World" that she shared, and understand that a white man would have been handled differently by the police, and see that the room mate's white friend clearly didn't get it.

If there is a part of white priveledge that we can give up, it would be ignorance of racism.  This is when I gave that up.  It is a white priveledge because people of color don't have that choice.  People of color can not choose whether to be a victim of racism, just as victims of other aggregious acts don't choose to be victimized.

I am going to ask a very special favor of all the readers of this blog.  Readers of color, please share your experiences of racism by commenting on this post.  I moderate the blog comments, so your stories won't post immediately.  I intend to keep this a safe place for you to share, and will reject disrespectful/hurtful comments.  White readers, please allow yourselves to open up and hear, without pre-judging, stories of racism posted.  Remember, each of us experiences life differently.  You may have to try to view stories through the tellers eyes to understand where they are coming from.

Thank you, in advance, to everyone who chooses to participate.