Saturday, August 18, 2007

In the End We are One

In addition to blogging I have created community through joining several Ethiopian online adoption groups. Conversations run the gamut and can get very spirited. In the last few weeks we have had a few conversations that have left me pretty disturbed so I wanted to focus this post on the latest.

Someone wanted to know about researching Ethiopian people for complexion issues because they thought many were light skinned and wondered if this had to do with the Middle Eastern influence and how can they tell about the coloring and sizes or some other nonsense (Yes, I know there is no Middle Eastern influence). The responses came and many were simply insensitive sounding like they were buying a piece of meat: "A lot of the girls are of the long arm long legged variety... We have one of those and one that is stockier with a lot of muscle… " When I read that I said WTF many times over!? As an African American I was immediately reminded of the slave auction blocks. Africans were sold in lots often displayed by size and then commentary was given on the lots or on individual slaves, that comment was reminiscent of those.

Yes, I was pretty upset after that but it further made me wonder how many people that are not African American and adopting from Ethiopia truly understand they are not simply adopting an Ethiopian child or Ethiopian culture. In the United States (or country where you live) you are also adopting the African American community/culture. I commend everyone who is adopting and reaching out to learn about Ethiopia and trying to connect with the community but please do not forget about the African American (or black community of your country) community. The honest truth is that no matter where in the Diaspora one may come from (my family happens to be from Dominican Republic) when in the US we are looked upon as African American and will receive the same treatment as another “black” person. This is our reality. By making the decision to adopt an African child also came many responsibilities and sensitivity is one of those. So while you are busy researching and learning all you can about Ethiopia take some time to become familiar with your local African American community and learn the history because in the end we are all the same.

8 comments:

Jocelyn said...

That was very well said. I too felt that some of the comments were kind of odd and I am not African American. I love that I have found another single adoptive mother to talk to but also that I have found an African American mom. As much as I read and learn, I know I will always hope that I am doing the best that I can raising an African American child. So, I hope your up for educating and support when I need it!! No pressure:-)

haze said...

I hope ALL transracial adoptive parents properly consider this. It is very disturbing that these conversations are taking place. If the parents can not speak intelligently and sensitively about race, it doesn't bode well for their children. Obviously they mean no harm, but they need to learn because that's exactly what they will cause, someway, somehow!!

Tami said...

Jocelyn...I'm glad that you were able to see my point. Absolutely, feel free to reach out to me...we are now part of each other's support crew. :-)

Rebecca said...

Absolutely 100% agree! I think a lot of parents think that the child will just adapt to their life. However, it has to be taken into account our child's heritage - they should not be deprived of it!

Amazing that someone would make the comments that they made...about the long legged, long armed, etc. How insensitive!! Thanks for bringing this to light. Well said!!

Shawn Davis said...

Hey Tami,
You expressed this point beautifully!! You know I totally agree.

Shawn

Melissa said...

An interesting experiment we did in our homestudy workshop was take an empty clear glass and with colored beads (divided along racial/ethnic lines.. yes, very stereotypical.. black beads for Afr. Amer., white for White, brown for Hispanic, yellow for Asian..etc.). The social would ask a question like 'my doctor is..' and you would drop the bead in that most corresponds with your doctor's race/ethnicity. 'My boss is..' 'the postal carrier is..' 'my pastor is...' After asking about 30 questions, you take a look at the cup and the beads.

It's amazing how we are culturally rich in our lives but when you step back and look at those who are in our DAILY lives, we see that's not always the case, esp. in smaller cities.

It was an eye-opener to see how it will all look in your child's eyes. I've made it a mission to seek out a pediatrician of Russian/Asian descent for my daughter. And I have joined a Russian church.

Tami said...

I've been getting very good feedback from the Ethiopia Yahoo Adopts board about my post. It seems we need more open honest conversation. Maybe I'll be the one to begin it. They used to call me the diversifier at B-School...why not! :-) It's for our kids. I don't want Baby I to say why did I sit on the sidelines and do or say nothing when so much was going on...hey this is sounding like a new posttttttttttttttt....

haze said...

Right on Tami. It's a great topic.

(as long as you're not "The Decider" **snicker**)