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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Sunday Drive: Race Relations

Having grown up in the segregated South, with its Bible-drenched horror at the thought of mixing the races (God says no!) or any deviation from heterosexuality (God says no!), this article sure does seem to come from a whole new world. I'm not saying I agree or disagree with all that the writer says, but it's food for thought.

Here's "Race Relations" by Roberta Munroe from The Advocate, August 28, 2007:
We've all seen them: good-looking, 30-something men with six-figure salaries, a Lexus hybrid, expensive shoes, and an even more expensive 2-year-old African-American toddler. I saw them one afternoon at a chicken restaurant in West Hollywood--two gay white men and one black boy. Immediately, the arguments against interracial adoption came to mind: How will the black child learn about his culture from white parents? How will other black boys treat him? Will he know how to adequately deal with racism? Will he become less black?

Two things are certain: Racism exists, and an underfunded foster care system is bulging at the seams with children in need of loving parents. More than 550,000 children are now in foster care in the United States, and many of them are African-American, Studies show that black boys are the least likely to be adopted and often "age out" of foster care at 18.

When white gay men adopt black boys, it's the beginning of a solution to both problems. What's more, sexual stereotypes are challenged. In the future, being a gay parent should be as normal as being a single mother, which parenting purists railed against 30 years ago. I looked again at the table and pinpointed one of the boy's fathers. Was he teaching his son to say please and thank you? Check. Was he showing him how to use his fork? Check. Was he looking at the little boy with love and care? Check. And did the boy look back with love and adoration? Check.

Having lived the life of a black adoptee in a white family, I can tell you that for a child, there is nothing better than being loved. At age 5, I was adopted by a white Polish woman who had survived the Holocaust and emigrated to Canada. She and my two sisters (her biological children) were blond and blue-eyed. I was not, which made for interesting family photos and group outings. When strangers would look a little too long or seem startled to hear me call a white woman "mom," my mother would flippantly tell them she'd had an affair with a black man.

For all the hand-wringing, I was not excluded from "my culture" (such an ambiguous phrase); in fact, I learned a significant amount about black culture during my childhood. At what point is blackness defined by how other blacks see you and not by how you see yourself?

With gay interracial adoption, white men are honored with the experience of being called "Dad." And black children, who otherwise may never leave foster care, are blessed with a spectacular vantage point--to be raised in a household where tolerance is paramount and respect for difference is crucial.

How about we look at an actual example? Here's the trailer from the documentary Daddy & Papa (2002):

Thoughts on raising a jock:

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