Tuesday, August 12, 2008

A Thought

I was reflecting on our time in Ethiopia today and remembering one of the hardest things: the feeling that we drew attention wherever we went because of the color of our skin. The attention was not negative or rude, it simply became draining. As though, no matter how hard we tried, we could not fit in. And then in struck me in a way like never before:

Is this what Noah has to look forward to?

Now I do fully understand that we have chosen to be a conspicuous family and am fully confident that we are up to the task. But just as the shock of new parenthood occurs, I find myself in the midst of the reality that we are a conspicuous family and am waking up to the fact that we are raising our black son in a white culture.

We have a lot of work to do. Any suggestions? Thoughts? Advice?

10 comments:

elisa said...

I think it is beautiful. As an interracial family, we have vowed to expose our son to many many cultures, but not to teach him race. I'm sure somewhere in life, he'll here "black or white" but why corrupt our children so young? Just love him, expose him and surround yourselves with people who look like him, and colorful families like yours. My husband and I both felt this in our childhood lives, he at all white schools and me at all black schools. We feel that the most important think is balance. Don't make it an issue. For example...saying things like, "i just love my little chocolate bunny." lol...to me it's just common sense....love!

Kellie said...

I think it would be helpful for you to move to a place where it is more common to see mixed race families... such as Tennessee :)

Janine the Bean said...

Kellie,

I think Jodi and Josh will do just fine here. It's more of a challenge. ;)

I was thinking about this after we talked at the park Jodi. You will have challenges I"m sure, but as Elisa said, love is the key. And I don't think it's wrong to try to find families of color (or we could just make it easier on you and he could have cousins of color).

Here's the thing: Do YOU stare at black people here like the Ethiopians stared at you? He won't be foreign as you were foreign in Ethiopia. Maybe minority, especially in a smaller town...but not strange and stare-worthy. :)

Just a few thoughts from your sister.

Love you.

J. Balsbaugh said...

Yea, love is key, but you really should move to a big city ... like ... Minneapolis!

The Six of Us said...

All such great reasons for location. I think what would really help us make our decision would be the addition of an Ethiopian cousin. ;)

Ana said...

People always stare at my family. My dad is white, my mom Aleut, my brother Eskimo, my other brother Athabaskan, and me a Heinz 57! I say that because I've been told before that I'm the one that looks adopted out of the three.

We were vacationing in Hawaii once when we were young, and a bunch of native Hawaiians walked by, pointed and very loudly proclaimed: "What's that haolie doing with that nice family?" Then there are other times, when a child in my dad's class will say something along the lines of, "You're just picking on me because I'm a native (or hispanic or black or asian or whatever)" when in all reality the child just didn't do his/her homework and is trying to get out of it. Over the years my dad has learned that when something including race happens in his class, he brings in my brother or my mom. It really shocks the child who was making such a fuss! I find it very disturbing, coming from a family of mixed race, that other families will place such a dependence on their skin tone. They'll take advantage of being native, hispanic, asian, and the end result is just ignorance being passed.

Anyway, it doesn't matter what people around you say, what matters the most is how you raise your sons, and how you teach them that skin color doesn't matter! It's what's inside. "Red and yellow, black and white. They're all precious in His sight. Jesus loves the little children of the world!"

And now you've been blessed with a small piece of the world in your family :) Take heart!

Janine the Bean said...

Oh the pressure! Everyone wants you in the big cities.

We'll work on the Ethiopian cousin addition.

Looking back at my post, I sound really simplistic about it all. I know it's complex. But as you said, I think that you and Josh are up for it. But a cousin might help Noah. ;)

The Singlers said...

Or you could move to a small town, like Rolla for instance! ;) It is more racially mixed than other place we have have lived in years...

But like everyone else, love is the key. I would also try to talk to other families who are going through the same thing, especially ones with older children to see how they handle it. Prayer is also a good thing. There will be hard times, but there will be wonderful times too. God's grace never fails.

Warren & Sheri said...

They say Brazil has the face of the world. (Just had to get my two cents in there!)

WMW said...

My advice is...get used to it! ;)

But seriously, yeah, he probably will feel that way sometimes. You can't completely eliminate that but you can give him opportunities to be where he does not feel that way and most importantly let him know that you will not minimize his feelings about it--that he can talk to you and while you can't completely understand you will always care and do all you can to comfort, protect, and advocate.

We'll all just keep learning...