About four years ago, my husband and I decided to pick up our family and move. It was time to live in the heart of our city.
I grew up as a little white girl in the suburbs. I never had to be told that I could do anything. I never questioned it. I had everything I needed – just as my children do. But, I also thought every child did. Almost all the princesses in the movies looked like me. I believed I could become them. Many women who looked like me in our society became leaders and role models. I never really understood why we needed a Black History Month. Until I had black children.
Why We Moved to the City
After we adopted two of our kids, we realized we had the opportunity to be intentional. Our kids didn’t look like us. With their beautiful black skin, it was obvious to the world that they were adopted.
Almost no one looked like them in the places we went as a family. We realized our family was now built of four people, two of whom were black. Something had to change. It no longer made sense to send our kids to a predominantly white school in a white community.
In several of our foster care training classes, there were discussions about how to raise kids of a different race. One word of encouragement from a young woman who was adopted by a family where no one looked like her stood out to me. She asked us to allow our adopted kids to have an environment where they were a part of the racial majority. Where there are people they can choose from to mentor them. Where they can explore relationships with many kids who look like them. She wanted to be sure our kids don’t have to just choose the one person they know and base their racial identity on what that person is like.
Those words stuck with us for over two years and when it was time to move, we knew we had an opportunity to be intentional.
Colorblind is NOT the Answer
I used to think that being colorblind was the answer. I knew that I loved the diversity of people, and I thought it was unfair that other cultures had such a beautiful influences. Being a part of the basic American (Hot Dog/Baseball/Reality TV) culture seemed so unfair compared to the rich history and stories of other cultures.
But I learned being colorblind only helped me because I personally didn’t have a deep rooted pride in where I come from. It is easy to throw my culture out the window. I don’t desire for my cultural background to be a part of how people see me. But that isn’t the case for others.
We should be proud of our skin, hair types, and history. I want my children to value who God created them to be. I need to model this love and acceptance for where I came from. But, I also want them to be more than their culture or racial identity.
So, for us, placing them in a school where they were in the vast racial majority was important. While it isn’t a diverse school (90% black), the three Hispanic children we adopted a few years ago also went to this school. It is valuable to us to allow them to share a school environment with their siblings. We also hope to find an environment as we mature as a family where they can learn about their culture as well.
Our children have something here in the heart of the city in Sherman Park that is priceless: diverse neighbors of various races, income levels, and ages. We could not have given them the same life in the suburbs. We are blessed to be in a community that is almost as diverse as our little tribe.
While we will never have this whole multi-racial family thing completely figured out, we hope to be intentional. We want our kids to have strong, positive role models of as many races, backgrounds and cultures as possible. Ones that look like them and some that don’t. Maybe then they can see the beauty in all people that my husband and I have seen in our friends, family, and world.