Rants, Musings, and Mental Meanderings of a former Conservative Christian Mother. Standing Strong against ignorance, preconceptions, labels and excessive housework. Celebrating original thought, religious freedom, parenthood, free enterprise and chocolate.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Changing attitudes toward race?

I loved this article (Thanks to my MIL for saving it for me) and wanted to share it with you! I even posted it on my Facebook mini-feed, so if you read it there... it's the same article.

Rachel Lerman is the embodiment of melting-pot citizenry: Born in 1967 in Boston to a blonde, blue-eyed, Roman Catholic white woman and a black man from Nigeria, she was placed in foster care and shortly thereafter adopted by a white couple and raised Jewish.

This issue hits close to home with us, since we have adopted trans-racially (our daughter is Colombian and Mayan), and my sister is black. Okay, just kidding, she's not black, but her fiance is Caribbean and Portuguese. So yes, he's black. (Technically, dark brown, but you get the point.) And please stop with the "African-American" business. It is ridiculous to assume that all blacks are African, just as it is wrong to assume all whites are European. (I happen to half Caucasian, half of Mediterranean descent. It gets even muddier - the half Medit is actually Maltese, which is part Italian... so now I'm totally confused!!) We have had lots of discussions on interracial families, and what we find most fascinating is the difference in views between generations. Basically, the older you are, the harder it is to accept our multiracial society. Each generation seems to be a little more accepting, and although there are always exceptions and those just too steeped in ignorance and bitterness to let go of their racism, overall I think we are making progress. A lot of issues depends on individual confidence. A black person raised to be suspicious and bitter towards white people will interpret everything as "You're just doing that because I'm black." A multiracial child who is taught to be ashamed of one aspect of their heritage will shy away from it and struggle with identity issues. But we notice that people who are secure in who they are, or in the relationships they're in, can just shrug it off. Every once in a while it gets annoying, but overall you just roll your eyes.

I think it is important in racial issues (as with all areas of your life) to find BALANCE. I don't believe in complete assimilation of immigrants. Be proud of your heritage, keep your language, make your food, observe your holidays... BUT show us the same respect you want shown to you. Be proud of our heritage, our traditions, and learn our language as well. (I left out the food part, since I'm not a huge fan of American food. Hot dogs gag me and apple pie will send you to an early grave.) I think celebrating a separate culture is something done within your family and peer group, not something you force on your host country. I love experiencing other cultures, but I do get offended when they refuse to acknowledge mine. (Especially when they are living here.) NO, I don't expect complete assimilation, but I do expect respect. I love when my family does something specifically related to our heritage(s), but you won't see my immigrant grandparents with picket signs demanding they sing the national anthem in Maltese. We teach our daughter all about Colombia, but we also make her proud to be American. After all, that is what unites our family - we are Christians, and we are Americans.

So, what are you doing to improve the attitudes toward our multiracial society in your own family? How do you react to families of mixed heritage? Do you see them as impure mongrels or simply melting pot American? Do you still feel that staying racially pure is a moral issue, as believed for centuries? If you are a Christian, do you think your identity should be faith first, race(s) second, since the New Testament effectively lifted the race barriers? Come on, don't be shy! Let's have a discussion.


Jenni said...

I agree with you on the African-American thing (okay, I pretty much agree with all of it) but I am an American, a very proud citizen of the United States, it doesn't matter where I or my family came from, only who I am today.
I think as long as we respect people as people regardless of race or cultural background we are doing pretty well, but the respect has to be reciprical and that is truly the problem I see. The "you need to respect me because I'm a minority" thing is not working for me. Mixed family? Great! But keep in mind in this country we are all Americans!

Cyndi said...

It was surprising to see the article had a different photo and more info than in the newspaper I saved for you.

I am still blown away by the call I received that spoke in Spanish first and then said to push one for English. I wanted to yell at the phone company, "This is AMERICA!"
I thought English was our offical language.

Angela said...

English may be our "offical" language, but apparently all Americans haven't even mastered it!

(Sorry, I had to give you a hard time about that one.)

I know a lot of people complain about so many things being in Spanish, but at the same time we have to acknowledge that one quarter of our population speaks Spanish. I'm not saying this is a good or bad thing, it's just the facts.

Also, while Americans like to chant, "Live here, learn the language," I will just play devil's advocate and point out two things.

1. English, with all of its exceptions and idioms, is one of the most difficult languages to master.

2. We are one of the only modern countries in the world who do NOT raise our children bilingual at the very least. We criticize foreigners for not speaking good English, but many of them do speak two, three, even four languages/dialects. Essentially, we are demanding of them what we ourselves cannot even do!

Now, here is the disclaimer. I am NOT referring to the arrogant jerks who INTENTIONALLY refuse to learn/speak our language because their disdain for our country and culture oozes from every pore. To them I say, "If you hate us so much, LEAVE." I am only referring to those who are either visiting or truly are looking for a better life. Learning a second language is very difficult - and most of the people who look down on them are not even bilingual themselves.

Jessica said...

Hey Ang...don't forget that Maltese is also of Arabic decent as well! Even the language is Semitic and is strongly Arabic, Italian (particularly Sicilian) This is just some fun information to store away for no particular reason! LOL!