We adopted our daughter from Africa several years ago and became an interracial family. Soon afterwards, we added our beautiful son and another gorgeous baby girl through adoption locally. Before bringing home the first of these dark skinned babies, we began reading books, going to classes, and talking to other adoptive parents to equip ourselves to appropriately parent and raise Black children. Or so we thought. What we have discovered is that, although our efforts were helpful, there is not a crash course for learning what it’s like to be a person of color or how to be the best mom to a Black child.
I remember reading the words of a Black mother as she prepared her young son to become a teenager and go out into a world where he would likely be seen as a threat. This made me sick to my stomach because it was words that I will never need to say to my white children. Realizing that it was highly possibly that one day my adorable little Black boy who was always noticed for his curls, would grow up and be perceived as a threat by some, angered me. This caused me to sit up straight at the table and start listening. Instead of just reading books and going to classes, I wanted to understand the history behind these conversations and inequality to the best of my ability.
My family became intentional about becoming friends of Black families, and this was life changing for us. I recall sitting at our dinner table, gathered with some Black friends, and thinking to myself that if this injustice was wrong for my children then it was wrong for them and their kids as well. All of a sudden, I had skin in the game, and as a family we committed to listen to what People of Color needed us to hear and do everything in our power to be the change we wanted to see for them.
As white people, I believe that we are making progress, but we still have a long way to go. However, I’m encouraged because I see more people at this table today than I have ever in my life. My family is on this journey with many others and here is just a few ways that have helped us grow and be more aware and knowledgeable.
- Having friends that are POC to simply do life with
- Reading books about Black history and by Black authors
- Watching movies and documentaries, and listening to podcasts to help understand Black history and culture
- Visiting museums and historical sites
The most important thing we can do in order to see change is be intentional, open-minded, and willing to say that we have very likely been wrong about some of our beliefs. Then we will see hearts began to change and communities come together as friends.