Color blind

Two white women sitting at a Chinese buffet, eating our rice, using our chopsticks and having a good old chat about……ethnicity.  Now, that is not our normal dinner conversation!   But, it has spurred my thinking.

Even though I am white – I have lived the life of being the minority.  I chose to live in Asia – with my stunning red head of a husband, charming tow headed children, and my pale skin and blue eyes.  We didn’t exactly blend in.  There is nothing like being starred at all the time, being singled out, being different.   But, that was the life we chose.

Our adopted children haven’t had a choice.

Growing up I really thought if you pretended ethnicity didn’t matter – well, then it didn’t.  I took the good old fashioned “color blind” approach to life.  I was the blind one.  Ethnicity does matter.  It does affect our families and I feel like my journey to understanding that has only just begun.

“Where is she from?” a well meaning father asked me over the top of Little Monkey’s head.  She pipes up, “Kentucky.”  I smile at the man and hope he will move on.  “No really.  You know what I mean,” he clarifies.  Yes, I did know what he meant.  But did he understand the meaning behind his question?

She is not a foreigner.  She is my daughter.  She belongs here.

The next week while eating at a Chinese restaurant (theme here, yes we eat Chinese a lot.) Little Monkey has a totally different perspective.  I am chatting with the owner in Chinese when I notice the frustrated look on my dear girl’s face.  “What is it sweet pea?”  She wails in response, “How can I not understand what you are saying?  I AM CHINESE!”

She has a foot in both camps.   She is a Kentuckian – but she is Chinese.  She is my daughter – but our heritage is different.  I am in the majority.  She is in the minority.

For her sake I need to explore ethnicity.  What is it like to be an Asian American?  How does it affect how others view her and treat her?  Taking it a step farther – How does it affect her when others realize that she is adopted?

More than anything I want all of my children to be secure in who they are.  I want them to understand that their identity is rooted in Christ.  They were made special in His image.   They are His children, fearfully and wonderfully made.  The lesson is the same, but their journey in figuring that out will be different.   For our adopted children I know that ethnicity, adoption and growing up in a white family will affect their identity.  I am not color blind any more.  But how do I help them?

“My skin is dark.  Yours is peach.”  Little Monkey said to me in the bathroom as I did her hair earlier this week.   “What is the same?”  I asked her.  “You have two eyes.  So do I.  You have a mouth.  Me too.  We both have ears.  We love each other.”

For now our journey is about embracing the beauty that diversity has brought to our family.  We love more deeply because we are not the same, but we are a family.

The conversations about ethnicity have only just begun for this momma.

3 thoughts on “Color blind

  1. Oh Tammy, this is only just beginning and will continue for many, many years into her adulthood. I remember going out to lunch with my mom and the waiter brought us separate bills. His assumption is that we were two friends our together. My mom took the bill and he commented how nice that was, my mothers reaction was that most mothers likely pay for their daughters lunch. He was rather embarrassed. Even family, with all their good intentions, do things that are just, well, stupid. Somehow you need grace for them, grace for B and grace for yourself. Many people are blind to their own behaviour and assumptions. You will see more of ignorance than B will until she’s older. As for B, some stuff will rear it’s head whenever she’s having a bad day (more as an adult I’m thinking here) but I’m thinking, with you for a mom, she’ll do just fine.

  2. I can’t wait until you come back and we can have these discussions over coffee. I love reading your blog because it hits home to me. The first time I thought about it for my daughter was watching a college choir sing and realizing that there was only one person of color in the whole choir. I want my children to feel like they fit in where ever they go in life. But ultimately you are right that their identity must be in Christ first. Miss you.

  3. Tammy. If we are able to leave ethnicity out of this world, then people would be different towards each other. It does start within our homes, to teach our own children; but, one by one, the ones we come into contact with, both the little ones and older alike (age here doesn’t matter), the message sinks into them–that we are the same, even though we are different on the outside. It may start out with just a seed of thought for some, others may totally embrace the fact that everyone should be seen as one–as God intended us to be.

    But since ethnicity does exist, a fact we see each and every day, even if there is only one who is different from you, we must be able to live, love and co-exist in our world. We should feel the desire to learn from each other, NOT just ‘be’. This would be a huge step for many, to do the WWJD concept we were always asking the little ones back when my son (Tre) and his friends were little. He is 19 now, and even though he may not use those 4 letters WWJD, he tends to follow that concept. If everyone followed those four little letters, then the ethnicity barrier might come down a little and people wouldn’t just see the differences. People would realize that GOD created our differences for a reason, to help set us apart from each other, which makes us unique.

    In doing so, people wouldn’t go and ask ‘Where is your daughter from?” But instead, ask “what does your daughter like to do?”

    I am not color blind–far from it. I actually enjoy the differences in people! It makes for a unique and vibrant and colorful world. Imagine, if everyone were the same, the world would be BORING! That is definitely NOT what God intended 🙂

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