Racism in a Multiracial Family
My heart is so so incredibly heavy today.
After watching the presidential debates last night, I literally could not sleep. Sorry for everyone who has to see me today all puffy eyed and disheveled hair. But I just felt overwhelming sad for the state of our country/world and how evident it is we need help.
When I started my website and my blog earlier this year, I wanted it to be a place for families who were thinking about adopting to see the realities of adoption, dig into the process more and have a place of community for families who have adopted as well.
Being a multiracial family can be a reality of adoption, and unfortunately right now, racism and racial tension is at an all time high since the 1960s.
Social media right now is not a great place to be living in. I took a step back to think and pray what God wanted from me and this platform. Did I hear what He wanted from me incorrectly? Was He sure that I needed to put myself out there so publicly?
As I was praying this, more tragedies in America happened. Alton Sterling's and Philando Castile’s deaths happened, and the police shooting in Dallas all happened in a 3-day time period. Total chaos ensued. And the amount of hate just oozing out of social media is just so overwhelming. I even decided to delete my apps and just step away. Then, when you just thought it couldn’t be worse, more tragedies erupted with Terence Crutcher's and Keith Scott’s deaths. Violent riots and looting are erupting throughout cities and curfews have to be enforced. I don’t care what race you are – this is some heavy, scary stuff going on.
I have had people from all different walks of life approaching me and asking my take on the matter. Some asking out of curiosity, wanting more perspective or wanting to understand, and some demanding quite frankly. Because I am a mom to a white son and a black son.
After last night, I felt like I wanted to share a bit of my perspective. Because I think more than ever it is clear that we cannot put our trust & reliance of change solely on our government.
First of all let me say – I am not a journalist, a historian, or a political expert. I do not spend all of my time pouring over facts, statistics and legal documents. *FYI – neither do most of the media outlets and bloggers that post their opinions on such things. And usually when real news outlets or statisticians do share these facts, we ignore them and share what fits to our opinion, but I digress.* I am simply a mom and a marketing director – so please keep that in mind! I can only share with you my experiences and expand my knowledge of other people’s experiences as well.
However, as former President Bush said at the Dallas Memorial for the fallen police officers recently, which I think captures my sentiment about our world so perfectly – “Too often, we judge other groups by their worst examples while judging ourselves by our best intentions.”
Let that soak in for just a minute.
Do I think that there are bad cops out there? Absolutely. Of course there are so many who are not and just want to protect and serve. Do I think there are bad politicians? Ummmmm… I am going to have to say 90%. (RIP 2016 election.) Do I think there are criminals and terrorists out there with the intent of doing harm to those around them and to our country? I think that is an obvious, yes. Do I think there is racism, favoritism, and injustice. Unfortunately, yes, I do.
But all white people are not racist and not all black people are thugs! (So sad we still have to say this in 2016 in America).
I have read blogs/articles and the like, all chronicling different experiences. I do like reading them to get all different perspectives – no two are alike. And it does help me grow by understanding where different people come from, whether I always agree or not.
Well – here is my perspective as an adoptive momma: I have personally received racism on both sides of the black & white war. BOTH sides.
I have heard people say they don’t agree with mixed families, I have known people who do not believe any race should mix in worship, I have met ignorant strangers at work events asking inappropriate questions about my son’s birth mother because he was in the CPS systems, and I have had people tell me I am not raising my son “black enough,” or “white enough.”
I have even had an instance in high school where I was racially profiled by 2 black cops who pulled me over for a tail light out of my dad’s car and searched me and my car for over an hour. They tried to say I had been drinking, had drugs, and a fake ID – none of which were true and ended up with only a warning! It was late, I was 18 years old, they wouldn't let me call my parents, and I was very, very scared. No, I do not fear for this happening every time I am pulled over and I know this is probably the minority – but I can actually understand how scary that is! So to think about either of my boys having to go through this (or worse) now with all sides being on high alert..... I just don't even want to think about that.
Being an adoptive mom brings all kinds of hurdles, including racial issues, and so much more than I ever dare to share publicly out of respect for both of my sons. I know I have fought for Nathaniel since the day I started the adoption process.
I so wish I could bury my head in the sand and say race doesn’t matter and it will not affect my sons. I love this stage of their life because it truly doesn’t affect them right now. They do not see color. My older son still identifies race by saying that a person has hair like his brother! I wish our world were more like that, and I know I have learned a lot from my children and their innocence, faith and love.
But, I know that won’t last forever. That is why we have very consciously aligned ourselves with other adoptive families, mixed families, black families, social workers, our church & school – to make sure my boys grow up in the best environment that they can. I fear for both of my boys future – but I also am preparing for it the best way I can.
And at the end of the day, I am just, "momma" to my boys! I am not mom to a black son or mom to a white son. I am a mom to two beautiful sons and I am just daily trying to teach them to have a love for God and those around them.
Our adoption has opened our eyes to so many things – such as how race does impact families, generational poverty, red tape systems, and the world of social work, neglect and abuse. All things I am personally passionate to work towards making an impact.
On the flip side of the negativity we have received – I have so many more people who love, embrace, encourage and support my family and me every step of the way. We actually had a handful of amazing social workers during our process – several of whom I still keep in contact with and I 100% consider part of my family. We have had dozens of families, strangers even, from all races come up to us and thank us for adopting and pray for us.
I can’t let the handful of hateful and/or ignorant people overshadow the amount of people who love and embrace every thing about my little blended family and me. In fact, I have got to share with so many people the story of how God gave Nate to us and share about His love more than any other time in my life.
But here is where we can come together.
I daily strive to make my life’s message to all those around me that I do not agree with the way our world is – and me and my family will not conform to ANY preconceived notions of what people think we should do – but what God has called us to do.
Remember that song you used to sing in Sunday School, “Red & Yellow, Black & White, they are Precious in His sight.” Let’s not lose sight of that.
Hatred never produces anything real and never fixes anything. Me stating my opinion does not fix anything, although I hope it does bring a little awareness. And just because you have not experienced something does not mean it does not exist.
See an injustice or deficiency in your immediate city or state – contact your elected officials (find their contact information here https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials).
Serve your community. There are places in our area our church partners with like Attack Poverty to make an actual difference in real people’s lives (https://attackpoverty.org/).
Love those around you. Listen to what others have to say. And as our family motto says: BE THE LIGHT.
Jesus came at a time of hatred and chaos too. He loved all of those around Him. The tax collectors. The leapers. The prostitutes. The Pharisees. The Sadducees. You. Me.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.” -1 Timothy 1:15
I love the last part of this verse where Paul says – "of whom I am the worst."
We don’t all have to have the same experiences. We don’t all have to have the same causes (Although the sanctity of life is cause for all). But we can listen, we can try to understand, and above all can love each other and point each other back to our creator.
I would love to hear ways that you have worked to impact your community!
Holly Nicole James