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.