futurmama8, only time will tell...
my husband is just trying to find what he feels is the best path to raising transracially adopted kids. how do you instill pride, resilience, a strong sense of self, in the face of certain prejudice, without going overboard and causing your kids to assume that any stupid thing someone says is meant to hurt them, or coming from a place of racism?
Some people jump all over any phrase that is sometimes used in a racist manner (which is why my dh argued with me at first over my issue with the word exotic, though he has since come around to seeing my POV, as I see his) even if it isn't being used that way in a particular context. For example, we have a very close friend who is hispanic, and we were talking with him about our trip to Cozumel, a small island in Mexico that was nearly destroyed by a hurricane not too long before our trip there. My dh was talking about how the residents there worked together to re-build, as there was essentially no government support for the task. He said something along the lines of "in the face of all that destruction, those people were all there for each other, and just banded together to get done what needed to get done". Our friend took exception to his use of the phrase "those people", feeling that it was racist, and they got into a big discussion about how that is not what he meant by the words "those people" (he meant the people who live on the island, not Mexicans in general) as well as discrimination in general. My dh works with young men from all over the world, and they often argue about what is and is not racist, so he sees both extremes, I think, and is trying to find the most respectful middle ground from which to raise our kids.
We've talked a lot about white privilege and while he agrees with the concept, he also feels that most people, white men included, have been discriminated against for something or other in their lifetime (himself because he was chubby as an older kid and was ridiculed even by a teacher
) and while it's not the same as being discriminated against your whole life simply because of your race, his argument is that it's not helpful or useful to assume that white men have no idea what everyone else is going through, or that they all walk around feeling superior all the time. I agree with that wholeheartedly, and in talking about it quite a bit, I think we understand each other's pov on this one, even while it evolves...
I think he would agree with whoever it was (in whichever thread
) who said that conscientious white people are the most uptight about proper use of language, and he doesn't want to feel like we have to censor everything we say with our kids, because our relationship with them won't be as genuine -- using the word "monkey" for example, as someone else mentioned -- I don't know how I would remove that from my "playing with a kid vocabulary" -- it would feel very unnatural to NOT call my little ones monkeys, yk? It's just bound to come out! I do fully understand the racial implications, but that is so NOT what I would be referring to, and I don't want to constantly censor myself with my own children, yk? I don't want them to feel we treated them any differently than our other two kids, and I think if we're mentally choosing our words carefully, they will feel it. we have a very open and comfortable relationship with our kids, and I hope that continues -- I think we just have to trust that any mistakes we make in language with them will be easily rectified simply because they will know how much we love them. every child finds fault with their parent when they're teens or young adults, and I would rather they ask us "why did you call us monkeys when we were kids? that's such a racist term!" than for them to feel like we were ever "on our guard" with them, yk?
It's a fine line, and we're trying to find it... My biggest goal is for my kids to understand that someone else's stupidity doesn't have to affect them. They can deal with instances of racism however they feel most inclined, but I want them to have the option of fighting it, if they choose, or ignoring it without feeling any consequence to their sense of self.