To The White Adoptive Parents of Black Children
I don't know what kind of racist I am, whether a reverse racist, a soft racist, a paternalistic racist, an accidental racist, or simply a racist, but one thing's for sure: I am some kind of a racist. I'm having to deal with this because this very week within the narrow confines of my skull I had a most racist and unkind thought. Yes, I did, brothers.
We were hanging out at a potluck with a white family that had adopted a black child, a little 18-month-old girl. We were eating chili with all the fixings and accompaniments. The hosts gestured at the table, offering the food to the couple. Mom, who was holding baby, got very excited and said "Yes, thank you! She just loves cornbread!"
And you know what thought I had? Yeah, you know what thought I had.
"You can't say that. Your baby's black."
You can't say your black baby likes cornbread. You can't say this. You can't say that. You have to say that this way.
All this racial over-sensitivity has turned me into a racist. I dream of a day when I can offer a black kid some watermelon without a twinge of guilt. A day when we confess that all men everywhere loved fried chicken. A day when we recognize that soul food and southern food are really the same thing.
|Wikipedia pic of soul food.|
In our society, everything black people do is black, but not everything white people do is white. Every decision these parents make will be questioned by those around them. If you had adopted a white kid from your hometown, or a Russian, or a Mexican, or a Vietnamese, he would just be your kid. But this black kid you adopted, well, he's black. And you can't just raise him to be your son. No, every decision you make either makes him more white or more black. Do you like basketball? Does he like basketball? Do you like violin? Does he like violin? Because we are all watching and judging, his blackness and your whiteness hovering over all these things and robbing them of their purity.
I don't want to be colorblind. But I do want to respect your desires for you children. I want you to give them your family's identity, I want you to create new identity, and I want you to do it free of my interference.
I wish things could be pure for me. I wish I didn't make them impure for you. But when your son picks up a basketball, and when he picks up a violin, I judge you both.
Please forgive me.