Judged

Ok, ok, so this may be the sickest post I have ever posted.

Yes, I have erased my child’s face…just to prove a point.

Periodically I leave Zoe’s hair down and natural. It is beautiful, so beautiful in fact, my partner and I joke before going out in public and ask each other, “Do you want an average day of compliments or do you want an over the top day?” Over the top means we are goin’ natural. Meaning, every white woman we come into contact with, as well as every white man, will GUSH over Zoe’s hair and how beautiful and healthy and stunning it is.

BUT

I will run into judgement when I enter the black community. Case in point, the mall…

I felt judged by every black woman I passed at the mall this weekend with Zoe and her natural hair. I hear the whispers. I hear the comments they make to each other about me, “THAT baby’s hair ought to be in BRAIDS!”

And I ask, WHY?

Naturally beautiful

S. Street Does it Again!

We Have a New Baby in the House

We said we wouldn’t do it. We tried to resist.

Bitty Baby...the end of feminism as we know her...

As much as we did not want our daughter to have “gender specific” toys…Bitty Baby won out. Her little friend next door has one and Zoe took one look at the catalog and started kissing and hugging the pictures of the babies. When grandma wanted to get her one, how could I say no. Plus, where else do you get to pick a doll that has your skin, hair and eye color?

Black/White It’s Alright

There is a blog I follow (what’s the word for a blog “friend”?) www.rageagainsttheminivan.com and today she posted about an experience her black boys had on the basketball court, they are 2 and 5 years old. This stirs up so many feelings for me as a mother of two african american (black, really because they are not african, they have no immediate african ancestry) adoptive children. I posted awhile back about a run in I had at Gymboree (I Had a Moral Obligation). And today reading this blog stirs it all up for me again.

You see, I see things like this happen already. We are blessed because our day care the children attend is an awesome day care on the campus my partner teaches at. It is also smack dab in the heart of downtown, and has a large african american population. So our children have  very mixed classrooms. But, we take our kids to so many places and have seen the looks.

There is a mall in Thousand Oaks, CA we go to quite a bit, it has an indoor tot area. We love to let the kids run some crazies out there. And I can see the parents look at our kids and then scan the area for the “black parents” that must belong to these kids. I can then almost see the sigh of relief when they realize we belong with them. It’s like they say, “Oh, good! The are adopted by white people, it’s ok.” But then, there is the added judgement that gets thrown in when they realize they are adopted by two lesbians…

I have parents wonder who our kids parents are at the children’s museum, and are always kind of shocked when its us. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people endlessly scanning the room when there are no african americans in it, wondering where the parents that belong to these children went.

I have run into children who say, “Is that your son?” When I say, “Yes” they say, “Cool”. I have run into kids who have said to Carter, “where is your mom?” When Carter points to me, he said, “Where?” Carter just kept pointing to me and then the little boy said, “The white one” to which Carter is just too young to understand that question. Staci ran into a child at one of the playgrounds who said, “Is that your little boy?” And when Staci said, “Yes” she said, “Oh, he looks like you.” Which is hilarious!

What to do? I worry about it a lot, our kids being ridiculed for not only being black but also adopted AND by lesbians to boot.

According to the 2000 Census over 46% of the children being raised by same sex couples are children of color. This gives me hope because according to a study done by Ellen Perrin, MD, professor of pediatrics at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts, that studied and followed more than 500 children to adulthood that were raised by same sex couples, found that children of same sex couples do just as well as those raised by heterosexuals. But more astounding to me are these findings;

  • “There are interesting suggestions that these children are more tolerant of differences.”
  • “The children of lesbian couples also appeared to be less aggressive, more nurturing to peers, more tolerant of diversity, and more androgynous,” playing with toys for both boys and girls.

So, yes, it is up to us. To make the differences, to prepare our children for the world they are in. To think that the large majority of children being raised by same sex couples are of color and will be raised in an environment that is more tolerant of differences, less aggressive, more nurturing and diverse is so very hopeful and positive. Shame on others who are not raising their children as accepting.

We talk about it now with our kids. We say, “Carter, look at your beautiful black skin.” “Mommy is white, Carter and Zoe are black, Isa (one of their friends from Guatemala) is brown. And it’s ok. Everyone is different.” We talk about being adopted. They get none of this yet. But the point is, it will be their normal. It will not be foreign or scary. And it shouldn’t be. We talk about their hair and how beautiful it is, coarse and curly. As much as combing Zoe’s hair is a major battle and struggle in our home, I do not ever want her to feel that she has “bad” hair.

I know that Carter will also have greater difficulties because he is darker than his sister Zoe. The fact that I worry about them is a good thing, it is not a paralyzing fear but rather a cautionary fear that moves me to action. It moves me to make every encounter count. Every encounter with other children that are different  a learning experience and a positive one.

All the Mommies of African American Kids…I need your advice

Our almost 2 year old son is getting scars from every little scrape he gets. I feel horrible, his left knee got skinned, got scabby and now is pure white where the scabs were…I don't know if his pigment will ever come back to that area…now he has a scratch on his forehead where the scab fell off, and it's lighter there too…

I feel so bad, like by the time he is 4 he will be all "Michael Jackson" looking on me.

Does anyone else have this issue? Should I start using those scar creams when he falls?

Will his color come back?

My poor mocha baby, all damaged goods already…

I Had a Moral Obligation…

I thought it would make me feel better, but I still feel upset about it…

Here goes:

I went to Gymboree today to spend what I thought was $100 because I had $50 in Gymbucks to redeem that my mother in law gave me…turns out I had $200 in Gymbucks, meaning I had to spend $100…I digress…

While I was in the store it waxed and waned between busy and not…I went to the register and someone started helping me but was told to stop so the clerk could go "check on things" to which the clerk excused herself (while the other clerk continued to ring someone else up) and asked the 4 people in the corner if they were "finding everything ok"…mind you we are the only 5 adults in the store. This is when I find out I really have $100 more worth of merchandise to shop for and I went and did that…meanwhile same 5 people are in the store…let me now mention that 3 of us are white and 2 of us are black…

I find my extra stuff…get in line, I am second in line, meaning there is one white person left and two black people left, and for whatever reason this whole time everyone has been in the same corner of the store…as I am at the register the clerk gets on the phone all quiet like and says to security, "Do you ever just make "walk thrus?" yeah I think I got something, thanks" and she proceeds to keep an eye on the corner…which I am now watching…because I have no idea what she thinks she is seeing…and then IT DAWNS ON ME…no, she can't be…is she? SHE IS…

Something started raging RAGING inside of me…I felt like I was trapped on that "What Would You Do?" television show…and I start thinking to myself…"Ok, half of my merchandise is already up there…and I have a handful of clothes and I am up next…do I throw them on the counter with no explanation and say I cannot shop here?" Do I call her out on it? 

In walks prepubescent "security guard"…he walks into the store and goes straight to the corner where the three people are shopping, looks, stops and then walks to the counter to go stand by the woman who called…Literally can feel my blood rising….Now the woman next to me is done checking out and it is my turn to check out…as I put my things down the black couple (a man in his twenties and his young mother and his child) are approaching to check out to the very woman who called security…I am shaking…I have to say it…

Me: (To clerk) "Excuse me (my hands are now shaking)…can I ask why you called security when you did?" (Security is still standing next to her)

Clerk: (visually shaken and back pedaling quickly) "What? Oh yeah, we do that sometimes when the store gets really busy and we can't keep an eye on…

Me: (inturrupting) "Really it didn't have anything to do with the fact that there was a black couple shopping over there? Because…

Clerk: (inturrupting me, eating crow, eating crow) "What? What no…we just do that when the store is busy…

Me: "Really? Because I have really been struggling with this watching this all play out and I feel I have a moral obligation as the mother of a black son to say something. I am very uncomfortable with this…

Clerk: "Oh no, that's not it at all…no you (directing her attention to the black couple who I am not sure heard this all) come in here all the time don't you…I sweetie (to grandchild) you're getting so big…I'm sorry you felt uncomfortable (directed back at me as I continue to talk)…

Me: "Well, I really hope that is not what I just saw…"

To which my transaction was completed, I was trembling handling my money…I was near tears…just trying to compose myself to get it all out…and walked away…I thought I would feel better…I feel a little better…but feel like I should have done more…and yet feel like I did a lot…more than most would have (including the black mother of a classmate of my son whom I told the story to…her words, "I would have been too scared to say anything.")…

Now…everthing in my fiber tells me she was lying…that she INDEED was racial profiling…my case:

1.  There were 5 people in the store…that is busy?

2.  She said to me, "We sometimes do that (call security to do a walk thru) when the store is busy (again 5 equals busy how?)" is what she said to me…but when she called the security guard she ASKED, "Do you do walk thrus?" meaning she didn't know if they did walk thrus…meaning she had NEVER done it before…meaning they DON'T call the security to do walk thrus when they are busy only when they see black people in their store and think they are stealing because they are black…

3.  The mom from my sons day care who I talked to about it worked at the same mall right across the way and told me that your not allowed to call security unless  you have a theft to report…not just for a walk thru…

I know there will be a day my son will be the only black child in an all white situation and he will be looked at as the potential trouble maker…the one to watch…and it sickens me…and I can guarantee you I will fight every battle for him…I'll be damned if I will let a Huntingdon Valley Swim Club situation happen without a stink on my watch!