Archive | January 10, 2010

Guess who’s racist?

Me.  I never really thought I was – oh, I have my prejudices, I know I do and for the most part, I don’t think I’ve hurt anybody.   Til I hurt my husband.  We were talking about the baby and I told him that I had my doubts that he would bond well with him because he was black.  I also probably meant “cause he doesn’t even remotely resemble you at all”, but that’s not what I said.  He doesn’t even remotely resemble my husband and when he goes out in the world, he’ll have to deal with other people’s reactions and perceptions.  He brought up the fact that months ago, when we were thinking that we may not get matched with a mixed race child, that we should open it up to other races.  I was also willing to let go my preference for a girl, but I was pretty adamant that I did not want a white child.  Meaning if we received a profile for a caucasian child, I wasn’t going to submit our profile.  Now when I said that it wasn’t because I hate white people, obviously.  I had a few things in mind.  One thought was  that I didn’t want anyone to think that I wasn’t the mother but the nanny.  Another thought was that there were so many black children that needed a home, and being that I was black, I had a pretty good idea of how to raise them with  a sense of pride in their racial heritage.   Knowing that this would be our only opportunity to adopt a child, due to a variety of factors, I was pretty hellbent on this. Hubby was okay with my decision.

It never occurred to me that I had offended him.  Wounded him.  And when I made the careless remark that I wasn’t sure that he would bond with him because he didn’t share his race, it still didn’t occur to me.  Know if you knew DH, you’d know that I always call him a redneck cause he pretty much makes racial remarks about everybody – he always has and frankly, I’m always taking him to task for it.   His best friend of 30 yrs is Nigerian.  He’s a sports kind of guy and when you see him with his friends or former teammates, I can’t believe the way they talk to one another.  I wouldn’t have any friends left if I ribbed them the way he does.  My point is that it takes a lot to offend him.  And disappoint him.  But somehow I had managed to do it and I can’t really say that I blame him. He takes all people pretty much at face value, all anyone has to do is sit down and talk to him and he either likes you or he doesn’t based on personality not race.  If you offend me however, he will punch you in your face.  If any of his friends or member of his family offends me, he will surely take care of it.

So when he asked me why wouldn’t I have taken ANY child if I truly wanted to be a mother, what did I have to say?  I didn’t have anything to say.  Cause I couldn’t take back the fact that I would have not CHOSEN a child that was not black or of bi-racial heritage. Now, if we had not been chosen because of race, that’s one thing.  I had no control over that.  Yes, there’s the school of thought that a black person can’t be truly racist because of the history, power and privilege. I’ve never subscribed to the school of thought.   Yes, I’m sure had someone said here take my white baby please, I would have come around to my senses and opened up my mind and my heart, but that didn’t happen.

And I did feel ashamed that I could have even doubted his ability to love this child at all based on the single fact that he couldn’t share the “black experience” with him.  I apologized deeply and sincerely and am still rather upset that I could have hurt him that way.  Cause what if he had said that he did not want a black child?  I would have ripped him a new asshole and probably filed divorce papers.

I tried to explain my reasonings, but frankly I had a hard time understanding them myself.  So permit me to explore them here.  Growing up as a black female, I had a really hard time finding my features being portrayed as beautiful, preferred, desired… aka this society’s definition for beauty.  So most of the time I felt ignored or only highlighted because I stood out in a crowd for negative attention.  You know like being trailed around a store cause I might steal or ignored for customer service.  When I was younger, I’ve applied to rent apartments and then shown up and the place was rented10 minutes later.  I’ve called about open job opportunities, then shown up to find the job was taken.  Growing up, I often felt like I was on the outside looking in.  Of course, many people have felt like that, but it was because of my race, not my class or social status or physical appearance.  It’s just kinda like I had an awareness that I would always be judged differently than my friends.  Even if I wasn’t.  I would always run the risk of being excluded and I never knew when it was going to happen.   Is that person rude to everyone or just to me?  Because of my career choice, I was surrounded by artistic types who were more tolerant but I often could only audition for small parts, the servant or part of the chorus.  Do you know how many nurse roles I’ve done?  Rarely the wife, the love interest, the best friend.   Never the main character, never the lead.  I was always reminded that there was only rare opportunities for me to shine and I had better be perfect or it would be a long time before I would get another chance. That lack of opportunity leaves a mark on the psyche of an actress.

So when it came to adopting, I was still holding on to the dream of that child that would be part me, part DH.  And I held on to that because I didn’t want a conspicuous family.  Hubby and I were already conspicuous.  Frankly, I did my best to make that a positive thing.  When we travelled through Montana and other parts of the U.S. , and of course, people stared at us (blacks and whites), I’d just tell hubby to relax, it was because we were so good looking, such a striking couple. I didn’t get upset, I was used to it; he was not.

I knew what it felt like to be conspicuous and I didn’t always like it.  So many black babies looking for forever families, white babies were always wanted by someone. I could be wrong, I don’t know. But I knew that I would work hard to make a biracial or black child feel wanted and beautiful and confident.  I knew how they might feel.

Again, that’s not what I said though.  I should have said  any child, no matter what race.  If I had a doubt, I should have said it might have been because the child was not biologically his own.  But I didn’t.  I didn’t.

My halo thudded to the ground.