Subtitled: Why I Hate Adoptive Parents,* Reason Number 872.
*various qualifiers, explanatory notes and other crap of that nature contained in previous posts. Please read blog thoroughly before leaving long rants or vitriol in comment section.
So I volunteered at a community event recently. There are a fair number of white adoptive parents who dabble in the community. I’ve encountered a number of them for several years now. And unfortunately I think familiarity breeds contempt. Because sometimes I want to stand up on a big soapbox and yell, “What the heck do you think you are teaching your children of color?”
I’ll tell you what you’re teaching them. You’re teaching them that those people are them and we are us and never the twain shall meet.
One small problem here. Your children are them too.
So my job was to serve food. And I noticed that Defies Rational Explanation Occurrence™ again. This time it was the one where white people whom I’ve known for a while don’t recognize me. One woman was puzzled when I mentioned to her that the food I was serving contained wheat (she has a wheat allergy). Other white people with whom I’m acquainted didn’t greet me, or looked a trifle puzzled when I greeted them or their children by name.
That’s part of being them, when white people don’t have to bother to try to distinguish you from the faceless hordes.
(And as an aside, I think it is really rude to just point at something because you want it. Or to tell me, “Give me as much of that as you can,” because you especially like it, and then to say, “No, I want MORE.” I’ve often wondered if this is a race/class thing, because when I was growing up we learned to take very small portions in group settings. I remember the first time I went out with a bunch of (mostly white) work colleagues. When the appetizers came, two of the people took the majority of the plate and left almost nothing for the other ten or so of us. I was shocked since it seemed obvious that each person’s share was one piece. But I digress.)
(Sign of a rant on a roll–when the parentheticals are almost longer than the rest of the content.)
And where were the white parents at this event? Why, they were all sitting in a little White Cluster™ with their children of color. And then after a suitable period of time, they went home. And folks of color cleaned up and put everything away.
I don’t understand the purpose of coming to community events if you are not actually interacting with the community. And when I say “interacting,” I don’t mean that you eat their food or watch them in their strange cultural rituals. I mean that you might actually attempt to develop relationships with those people. And maybe you might not treat them like your servants as you dip your toe into your cultural experience.
Lately I’ve been a little too aware of being one of them when among you all. And I see your children watching, too.
I have tried for a long time to be understanding of white people’s fears when it comes to interacting with people of color. But frankly, since they usually manifest as privilege and patronage, I’m having a hard time. During a seminar on racism, a white woman voiced her anxieties about entering communities of color. I commented that was one of the ways that racism had harmed us all. But then she was quick to deny that fear was a product of racism.
Because it occurs to me that worrying that other people might find you racist is a product of racism. Being anxious that people will not accept you when you’ve always been accepted previously is privilege and perhaps projected racism as well.
And here you are losing the ability to be real and genuine, and to have true and genuine relationships. Because if you cannot acknowledge the damage that racism has done, it is going to be very hard for me to accept you as a friend or ally.
Frankly, at this point I don’t care about being your friend. I no longer have the desire to suppress my reality in order to gain approval. And I do not want allies who are not true. But when I see your children turn away from me, I think I hate you.