Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Conversation

I had a conversation yesterday that went something - no exactly - like this:

LADY: Where are you adopting from?

ME: Ethiopia

LADY: Oh how wonderful! And it doesn't bother you that your baby will be black?

ME: **blink. blink. long pause.** Ummm, no.

LADY: Yeah, me neither. I think that's great.

ME: ok.

LADY: And what about your parents? Does it bother them that he will be black?

ME: Uhhhh. no.

LADY: Yeah, it wouldn't bother me either. I mean, I think that biracial marriages and everything are great. I just think that everybody should get along.

ME: **blank stare** Ummmm. ok.


I don't think that this will be the last time that I have a little awkward conversation with someone about my son's race. In fact, I KNOW it won't be the last.

And I truly believe that this woman had good intentions and was doing her best to relate and to show her support for us and our family.

But her words bothered me.

I was irritated because I didn't know how to respond.

I didn't know how to respond honestly, but graciously. I didn't know how to choose the words to tell her that I appreciated what she was trying to say, but that she has it all wrong.

You see, my son is going to be black. And we think that's wonderful. And we will love that and celebrate that about him.

BUT, he is also going to be funny and strong and curious and smart. He will be adventurous and charming. Perhaps he will be artistic or athletic or have a wild and crazy imagination.

Yes, he is going to be black. But he will also be many other things. His black skin is a part of who he is but it does not - and will not - define him.

But how can this be explained in a loving way to an inquisitive stranger - one who only has a couple of minutes to spare.

How do you say all of this without sounding like a stuck-up, defensive, hyper-sensitive adoptive mama? And at what point do you decide whether to reeducate the individual or simply redirect the conversation?

All of this to say that we have a lot to learn -- and I guess we can only get smarter and more prepared from here.

And next time, I'll be ready.


1 comment:

Beth said...

There is something about having a child that brings about the oddest comments from people! I always think about the right thing to say back...about 2 days later. You're right - the trick is being able to say what you want to say without sounding defensive. Good luck with that! ;) You already are an amazing mama!