Friday, August 15, 2008

Adoption Thoughts: Its not always so Black and White

Newsflash: Being black in Canada is a different experience than being black in the USA

Some statistics from Wikipedia

  • Nearly 30% of Black Canadians have Jamaican heritage.[4]
    • An additional 32% have heritage elsewhere in the Caribbean or Bermuda.[5]
  • 60% of Black Canadians are under the age of 35.[5]
  • 60% of Black Canadians live in the province of Ontario.[1]
  • There are 20,000 more black women than black men in Canada.[5]
  • Compared:
    • Black Canadians – 783,795 (2.5% of Canadian population)

Yes, that's right. only 2.5% of the total population with most black Canadians living in major centers, and most in Ontario.

In case you didn't know, we live 6 hours from a "major" center and around 3000 Kilometers, at least, from Ontario. In other words, where we live, being black is rare.

Canada is an extremely diverse country with a wide range of nationalities represented in most communities, but the majority of the visible minorities are of Asian or South Asian heritage. Our home community is diverse, but not diverse in a "Black-White-Hispanic" stereotypical American way.

30% First Nations, 10% South Asian, 3% Asian and less than .5% black. In a community of 12,000 that's not very many people.

But its not no-one. We are very, very blessed to have close and intimate relationships with our black community members. Today's post isn't about how we have adjusted and coped with the reality of being a minority family, when that minority is in fact minuscule, but rather how I, as a mom, watch my son's identity as a black man develop outside the realm of being the son of white parents.

Greg is away in another city at a hockey academy program. I didn't drop him off. No one there knows that Greg was adopted. No one there knows that Greg has white parents. He is simply a kid who plays hockey well who happens to be black.

This is his first experience of any long term significance of being just GREG. Not Greg, Shel and Jen's son.

It was reported back to me that of the 15 boys Greg shares a room with, there is another African Canadian child. They chose each other as bunk mates.

I was thrilled.

  • That Greg had a same race peer and wouldn't, once again, be the "only" child of color .
  • That Greg had been comfortable enough in realizing the support offered by a same race peer and initiated a relationship with the other child HIMSELF understanding their similarities, without my help.
  • That Greg, as a young black man had the chance to make a friend with another young black man without the "but he has white parents" label.
  • That Greg had self identified and internally acknowledged his blackness and sought out others like him as a positive experience. At 13, this is a big deal.

These are all thoughts that most white parents of most white kids never have. They never have to wonder or worry if their child feels "white" enough. If their child feels like they can have positive relationships with same race peers. If their child will be the only identifiable minority, a novelty, again.

I secretly gloried in the maturity of my son. What a good job I have done. What a fine young man, what a fine, young, strong BLACK man he is becoming.

And then Greg called me. I asked about his friend.

Adopted. White Parents. Born in Houston, Texas, immigrated to small town Canada.

Almost the same story as my boys. And I laughed.

This child was not dropped off at camp by his parents. Neither boy knew when they met, and yet they shared their story and found a sameness.

Its not the story I imagined, but its the story that happened. I am glad they have each other. And I wonder if there is another mother out there also happy that her son found my son and for these two weeks they have each other.

White Mothers. Black Sons. Good Friends.

I think he is going to be ok.

1 comment:

The Szareks said...

that is so awesome, I am sitting here crying. I think about these kinds of things and my Liberian daughters are only 6.5 and almost 4.

thanks so much for sharing.