This is what Precious Williams wrote back to me

Dear Martina

Thank you so much for writing to me. I'm up against a deadline right now so can't write very much but I just wanted to say hi and touch base with you. I had a quick peak at your blog and saw the absolutely adorable photo of your daughters on there!

I actually may be visiting South Africa later this year. It will be my first trip there although I've previously visited Zim and Botswana. If I do visit I'd love to meet for a coffee or something. But will write more soon.

All the best


and me of course can't stay quiet for 5 minutes had to reply immediately....

Dear Precious

I am so happily surprised and moved by your warm and positive response. I hope you don’t mind me publishing your email on my blog as I want more people to know about you and am so excited with the prospect of possibly starting some sort of dialogue around color, adoption, parenting and the joy and angst of it all!

One thing I am struggling with as my daughters get older is to get positive female role models into their lives. South Africa – especially Cape Town – is still very much a separated society and “black and white” don’t mix much except maybe in Johannesburg. We have many families amongst our friends with all different kinds of colors in them but mostly white parents. I find it sad and often downright embarrassing when my girls assume that every African face they see belongs to either a nanny or a cleaning lady. There has even been an incident where my friend’s adopted daughter Thandi asked her (african) friend at a party: where is your mummy. The girl pointed out her mother and Thandi said: no I don’t mean your nanny, I mean where is your mum? (everybody: who wants an ICECREAM??????)

Movies and books don’t help much either –the only female princess I came across so far who has dark skin and dark hair – is Nia from the frog story, which I haven’t managed to sustain until the end (and don’t have the ambition to either…) I struggle to find dark skinned dolls for birthday cakes and the main qualifications for princesses still seem to be blonde hair and blue eyes. A subject I am sure you are only too familiar with – but which I must admit has never occurred to me until recently– having spent most of my life amongst pale German people.

I also struggle with the terminology “black” and “white” as in my opinion this only serves to sustain the separation between races instead of bringing us together through our similarities. I am certainly not blind towards racism and have been known to be quite fierce and intolerant in my reactions towards prejudiced, ignorant or plain stupid opinions – but to be classified and filed away as white or black– as if this is some sort of reference to our character, background or culture, does not sit well with me. I don’t want to be defined by the color of my skin and certainly don’t want this for my children.

In the past – maybe until as recent as 30 or 40 years ago – when people mostly stayed in their birth countries unless they had to escape from violence or poverty – it might have made sense to allocate cultural background to skin color.( It also depends what your definition of culture is – a whole new subject this). As the world gets smaller every day, people don’t stay within their cultures, they make friends and children with people from other “cultures” (imagine that  ) and soon (I hope very soon!!) we won’t be able anymore to make cultural assumptions based on skin color anymore as we can conclude somebody speaks German because they have blonde hair.

Both my girls are strictly speaking not “black” as in this country people distinguish between “black” (mostly Xhosa or Zulu culture), “colored” (a mix of the original Xhosa and Zulu population and the white colonizing nations – I hope I got this right and please anybody correct me if this is wrong) and “white”(mostly English and Africaans) – my girls are a mix of at least two of them. The racism between “colored” and “black” people adds a whole new dimension to the color confusion all around me and I can’t write “black” or “white” without hesitation unless it’s in connection with my handbag or shoes.

I am most interested to hear your perspective on this issue – as I understand from reading some of what you have written that you feel quite strongly about having been labeled as “not really being black”.

I am going to end here for today and hope to hear from you soon! As for your visit to South Africa, my invitation still stands: I (and Alan and Leah and Kala) would be honored and happy to welcome you into our home for as long as you stay in Cape Town. In the meantime I am looking forward our correspondence! A LOT!




BeeYou said…
Hi Martina
In our immature relationship I can already tell that by quietly observing I will learn so much from you. It warms my heart when I read about how you have embraced who you are - I can really relate to "inviting butterflies into my cacoon". I discovered that photography allows me to carry my cacoon with me at social events :). It is sad to say that out of all the countries in the world, South-Africa is probably the most unforgiving when it comes to racial issues, but all the more reason for you to be here. You are most defenitely making some people think about there pre-conceived ideas. I strongly believe that simplicity should always be my main objective as I work through complicated matters. Leah and Kala are very fortunate to have you and Alan as parents and I am sure they bring an unmeasurable amount of blessing to your lives. To me that quite simply is all that matters. x Bianca

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