Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Parenting is not for sissies.

I've always felt deep down  that hatred and prejudice are learned, not innate, traits  so it was important to me and to Drew that we do our best to raise color-blind kids, something I hope we've done a decent job of.     

Back before we started the adoption process, I could say with fair certainty that our boys could not fathom that a person could be judged solely by their skin color.   This was something that they had only read about---something that had happened in our country's past or something that might happen somewhere else to someone else's family members.

Since we've been in process, Drew and I have tried to anticipate and talk through situations that our family might face once Amos and Kalee are here.  I  want Brant, Will and Jay to be prepared for the questions we might get, the looks...the double takes.....the reactions....the lack of understanding....changes in relationships.
But as much as I want the boys to be ready---I hate to see another layer of their sweet, sweet innocence stripped away.   It is hard and painful and embarrassing for me to have to share with them what our society is really like----to say out loud that prejudice is alive and well....and not just somewhere else in the world, but alive and well and thriving all around us.

Our youngest boy, Jay, overheard a phone conversation Drew and I had earlier in the week. We are considering a local move to put us closer to school, church and Drew's office and one of the houses we are checking out is located directly across from one of the big country clubs in town.
I could tell Drew was getting a little excited just thinking about being able to walk to the golf course and tennis courts....and well, the boys and I have been known to become pool rats in the summer proximity makes this house very tempting.   As we talked about what membership to such a club might cost, Drew quietly mentioned that we'd need to ask around and check the club policies.   It's a possibility that blacks---or white parents of black children---might not be allowed, errr......invited to join.

I'll spare you my indignant rant, but Jay's went something like this:

"In 2009??"
"Are you SERIOUS??"
"With a black President???"
"You have GOT to be kidding me!"   

Any thing I managed to stammer out couldn't even begin to explain to Jay why things are the way that they are.  In fact, every thing I said sounded completely ridiculous------Jay's disbelief and indignation were completely founded.  There's no explaining away ignorance.

But sitting in on his school's chapel service commemorating Black History Month today really cemented for me why Jay is feeling so confused.    Through the litany of poems and speeches and biographical sketches, it became clear that he's been taught and is being taught that racism and segregation are things of America's past history.   He'd already filed them in his 5th grade brain as "Done" and "Over" ----that is, until the country club membership came up.  Then myth collided with reality.

I wish I could keep Jay and his brothers innocent forever.  I do.  I wish I could shield them from injustice and unfairness.    I wish I could encourage Jay to believe every thing his teachers say and what the textbooks print in black and white.  I wish our world was the way he believed it was.

I will continue to pray that someday it might be.  I'll pray that God will change hearts and attitudes.   I'll encourage sweet, Baby Jay to pray with me.  And for now, I hope he will file racism and segregation away in the "To Change--Someday" part of his brain....


1 comment:

jena said...

It is here.

It's not in the past.

It makes me sad.

It's pitiful we have to question acceptance.