Friday, September 11, 2009

The Things We Do

There are many things transracial parents do for their kids. We might pull out "ethnic" art like I have done in the picture above in the girls' bedroom. Instead of pictures of Barbi or Poo Bear, I framed pictures from a Native Artist and bought dream catchers.
We might change the tone of our holiday celebrations, where we spend our vacation times, or where we worship.
All those things are a step ahead of simply dressing our kids in their "national costume" once a year, or worse, pretending that race, culture and nationality don't matter and we can be a happy multi-racial family without ever examining what that means.
I do not just consider myself a white mom of black or brown kids, I consider MYSELF now part of a minority family. It is MY responsibility, and mine alone, to make sure that our home is a sanctuary from the pervasive cultural messages my children will receive outside our front doors that White is Better. It means I never put my black child in a tshirt with a white super hero on the front. It means I have consciously put myself into situations where I would be the minority so my child could be the majority sometimes. It means I address and discuss difficult and uncomfortable racial realities with my children long before I want to. It means I bring my children to hear the voices and stories of those like them, knowing that no matter how much I want to, I can never truly understand their experience as young,black men.
Somethings are easy. I made conscious decisions about the books I buy, the music I listen to, the history I teach, the art on my walls in order that if reflects the diversity of our family and lays the foundation for the kids so that they are confident in the history of their people, their place in this world and that their sense of self as a minority person is not erased by having white parents.
Obviously as they grow up this becomes their own doing, but I know that they have learned the rich history of the African American experience. They know black inventors, musicians, artists, scholars, warriors, politicians and pastors as children while it was my responsibility to lay that foundation.
And now we are a tri-racial family. I have always thought that it would be very difficult to adequately support more than one culture in a home. My efforts have always been vested into the African American and African Canadian experience. My girls are Chilcotin . A history as difficult, as rich, as amazing and as tragic as any I have ever studied before.
I know I am not their adoptive parent, but I AM parenting them. My girls deserve all the dedication, respect and honor that the boys have received. And so today I take a huge step and start a university level language course in Chilcotin. Considered a language at risk, only 1200 people speak it today. But those 1200 people are my girls' people. Their grandparents and aunts, uncles and cousins. They lose so much by being away, they don't need to lose their language as well. So I will try, hard, to learn what I can and then pass that on to them.
I am terrified.


Unknown said...

Beautiful. I love your heart for your family and the wisdom that you have.

Kristie said...

I often wonder Jen, if I would have the wisdom and the strength to do what you do for your children. You truly are someone that I admire and look up to. You are a hero of mine.

Unknown said...

I to took a University Language course for my boys, but it was Carrier,from just a little north of you. What a lot of fun it was to be with their people!

Thanksgivingmom said...

My God you are awesome. I swear, you never cease to amaze me with parenting techniques, your thoughts, and just your general approach to so many things!

Anonymous said...

That's so amazing, Jen! What a blessing to be able to draw close to a special culture like that and learn the language. I had always assumed your girls were Hispanic!