As a transracial adoptive family, we get a lot of comments stating who and what we are supposed to be. "We" meaning mostly the kids.
We've been told that our toddlers liked to dance because it's "in them" (as Black people).
Or that maybe our second child, who is tall and active, might "play basketball" (and never any other sport...but anyway...)
Watermelon. (Which my oldest doesn't like at all).
Fried chicken. (We are 90% vegetarian).
Hip hop music. (We listen to Christian music 90% of the time because it's one of the few "clean" genres. We also like some country, jazz, oldies, top 40, etc. But those must be carefully selected based on lyrics).
(So funny. We were once asked what language the girls speak, and my friend said we should say "rap." LOL!)
What and who is Black?
I'm forever caught between teaching my children how to be Black (yes, I realize I'm not Black, thank you very much) and to be able to function in the Black community and letting them be whoever they want to be/are made to be and whether that is seen as Black or White or something else...fine.
I believe first and foremost, that God created each person with a unique personality and purpose in life, and those things cannot be put into a tidy race-box. A person following God's will for his/her life will never be accepted by some or even most people.
I also believe that transracially adopted children have a right to be assimilated, as much as possible, into their racial culture and community, because the world sees the child as their skin-color (their race), and everyone, deep down, wants to fit in to some degree.
I also believe that the coolest people I know follow to the beat "of their own drum." And trying to be X, Y, or Z to make others happy will lead to extraordinary unhappiness and a life of being society's doormat. Not healthy. Unhappy. And definitely not focusing on one's own calling in life.
I've seen a few t-shirts that have caught my attention. One says "Black and educated." Another says, "Black and strong." "Afrocentric." Etc. All out to state to that being Black doesn't have to be what the media says, what the movies or rap videos say, what racists want us to believe.
But what changes perceptions the most, perceptions that reflect negatively on Blacks, is simply exposure. Having Black children has changed me significantly. I was never a racist person, and I grew up in a racially diverse town, but I didn't understand what it was to be Black (to be suspected, never trusted, simply by skin color; to be disadvantaged, never given the "benefit of the doubt," because of skin color) until we adopted---until we lived day to day and skin to skin with one another: Black and White.
I'm not sure who or what Black is. And I'm not sure there should be an answer. Right? I mean, who wants to be put in a box?
I want my children to flourish. To be free to be exactly who they were created to be. To yield to their natural talents, abilities, and personalities. To embrace their skin color and possibility, whether that possibility is generally seen as Black, White, or something else.
So as I further explore this intricate topic, I'm going to be sure to pick up a copy of this new book. And I'll continue to hope and pray that my children have the conviction and drive to soar in life, to grow where they are planted, but also not be afraid to never stop changing.