Precious comments on my post about "the race issue" that she does not understand the reluctance to "describe ourselves as black or white" as she sees it simply as a fact of life, pretty much like describing a person as a man or a woman. She also adds that many people who have written to her - adopted by families with a different ethnic background - feel that it is mainly the "white" community who shows a reluctance to call their "black" kids black and instead emphasises that color does not matter whereas they feel it does. (If there were more cases of cross cultural adoption where the parents are "black" and the children "white" we might have a different perspective altogether but as it is we do not have the privilege of another side here).
I have been thinking about this over the past week and as much as I see her point and want to come around to it for the sake of my children ( if this is what it's going to come down to), I am still reluctant to call them black. . .
And I admit: this reluctance is not only coming from an intellectual space, where I can make a good case against stereotyping and labelling. It is also an emotional issue. The one thing I know for sure is that it does not come from a place where I think it is "bad to be black" -
So why does it feel wrong to be calling my children black?
Partly it might have to do with my growing up in a country where we did not firstly distinguish people by their skin color - simply because there was no one but white people around - I naturally learned to refer to people by other characteristics and it does not come natural to me to say "white woman" or "black man". OK, I could rise to the challenge and relearn my cultural conditioning - if only it made sense to me...
I don't see why we should continue with a terminology that has been invented and used in order to suppress and alienate people for centuries. Having said that, at least in the past there was no middle ground - you were either black (african) or white (caucasian). This has changed with cultural boundaries melting into each other and more and more children being born with multiple heritage. Isn't it strange that as soon as somebody has any obvious traits of African/black background they are automatically labelled black - even though their European or Asian or Other heritage might be predominant. If those children were to identify with their "white" parent and call themselves white, people would look strangely at them as somebody who has a major cultural identity crisis (probably caused by a white parent in denial....).
Why is it more acceptable or some might even say "healthy" for a person of dual heritage (I read that this is the term used now in England) to be labelled black than it is for them to call themselves white?
Is it maybe because there is still a residual air of supremacy about the so called white race which we unwittingly support by continuing to define people - and mainly people who are not white - by their skin color? Is it because black really means any shade of non-white? And do only people with two white parents and grandparents with no hint of "black" in their features qualify as white? My skin - white or not - crawls as I realise where this is going.
What I want for our children, especially for those with dual or triple heritage, is to break free from being labelled at all and challenge this system of sometimes open sometimes subconscious judgement and stereotyping.
I want to ask you this (Precious and whoever can answer me) : If you have a black and a white parent - as some of my children's friends do - why should you be forced to identify with one side over the other? What is so healthy about labelling a child black or white and thereby denying her to grow up into a future where this terminology might not make sense anymore thereby allowing them to simply be beautiful (my daughter recently referred to an African woman she had been talking to as the "beautiful lady with the jewellery" - and yes, I was proud and happy that she can be part of a world where people are simply interesting and beauty comes before color....).
What I am trying to say is this: Being black is not as clear cut as being a woman (or a man or being tall or short). Nobody can be tall or short at the same time or in their mid thirties and end thirties (except for you of course P :-))) - but many people - and there is going to be an ever growing number of them in our future - are not just black or white. To determine what their exact background is by just looking at a person will be more and more impossible. To call them black only because they are clearly not white is something that does not sit well with me - my cultural background and the connected fascist history might also play a part in my emotional stalling whenever I am forced to refer to somebody by the color of their skin.
And Precious, or anybody out there who is reading this with a fresh perspective: if you have a definition of black and white embracing all the shades in between (and NOT excluding my children) that we could go into the future with, I am open and willing to learn - but I desperately want to know why it is necessary for anybody to grow up with these labels. I see how they made sense 30 or 40 years ago where being black was still very much a disadvantage for your future and as you put it, you would have been better off if somebody had prepared you for this sad truth. But if there is only the slightest chance that this might not be the case for our children - I want to latch onto it and prepare them for a better world than the one we come from.
Maybe it is time we changed the world a little - even if it's only within the circle of our family and friends - and as I am writing this, somebody sends me a mailer, with the perfect end to this post ,thank you !
Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come (Victor Hugo)
What if the time has come and we continue to ignore it?
What will this make us in the eyes of our children 30 years from now? I would rather argue my point and possibly apologize for not having prepared them sufficiently for a world who mainly looks at them as black than to have to explain why I kept hanging on to an outdated notion of what defines us as human beings.
I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them
I don't believe in miracles - I rely on them
You found my blog and as I am experimenting with the weird and wonderful world of cyber publishing, let me explain what a gunna is: it's a word for all things desirable, something that makes us happy and warm and comforts us when we feel tired or sad or lonely. a gunna is the best gadget in the world! it was leah s first word for all things she wanted. Or you might also know it as: dummy, schnulli, pacifier binky, schnuller...... and so on. So this is for my beautiful