Ferguson and the Responsibility For Transracial Adoptive Parents of Black Boys

I am appalled (but not necessarily surprised) at the actions taken by Ferguson police this past week. From this horror comes a fear and curiosity of how white parents with Black sons will speak to their children about our current climate. Here’s an excerpt from my most recent piece;

How will white adoptive parents teach lessons of safety to their growing black sons?  How will they teach that it’s okay for some people to talk trash during a spirited football game, but not them?  How will they explain that daddy can walk to 7-11 with a hooded sweatshirt for some skittles, but if they want to make a midnight run to the convenience store then they need to code-switch and whistle Vivaldi as they walk with their hands in plain view in an attempt to lessen the fear from strangers who automatically perceive them as a threat.  How will a black boy learn appropriate behavior in a city like Ferguson if he grew up in a culture where he was consistently fetishized by his teachers and joyously picked first to play basketball as classmates espoused to the black athlete stereotypes?  How might a transracially adopted black child gain a healthy identity when the world that you’ve created in your home or community does not match this world we live in where the police, Congressmen Steve King, Cliven Bundy, Janelle Ambrosia, Donald Sterling (shall I go on?) don’t care if they grew up in a stable and loving adoptive family? Their skin is still black and according to some, that in and of itself is a crime.

Read my whole piece at The Lost Daughters.

3 thoughts on “Ferguson and the Responsibility For Transracial Adoptive Parents of Black Boys

  1. Angela:
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments regarding white parents of black boys. Your piece reminded me of the conversation we had in June. As you know, we grapple constantly with preparing our two (black) sons for the world that exists outside our liberal, white-middle class and somewhat rural lifestyle. It is the stuff that keeps us awake at night.

    The events in Ferguson highlight the challenges and real danger that my sons will face as they venture into the reality that not all white folks love and respect them. The news will be heartbreaking for my oldest son, particularly; as he is intuitive about other’s reactions to his skin color – and his hair. We have broached the topic of racism and the crevasse of justice that exists in that world outside our immediate community with my oldest son – he looks at me like I have two heads. “Mom, that’s not fair.” Complicating the conversation further is the fact that my daughter, who is bi-racial and who will easily “pass” among most whites – as something other than a black woman, will encounter a very different world than my sons.

    We as parents are educating our children in public schools that treat ethnicity as a reason to have ‘special lunch” and extra time in the library to read about MLK and Caesar Chavez. At home, we read about and discuss both the disparity of justice for minorities and the important contributions that people of all ethnicities have made to society. We have “black” art, we listen to a variety of music, we attend heritage camps, we watch “throwback tv shows” that have black families as opposed to shows that only depict black men as pimps, thugs and convenience store robbers or black women as maids or prostitutes. We venture into cultural events in our city and are met with a mixture of smiles and whispers. We are not bullied nor turned away – but we are seldom welcomed. The kids notice – but at the same time are fascinated and taken back by the language, the volume and the ‘in your face’ sort of banter that is out-with their experiences. We answer questions for days afterward. Good questions.

    My kids have a current police officer and a retired police officer as parents. My kids view police officers and fire fighters with reverence and they know that if they are in trouble they go find a cop or a fire house. We have taught or kids these lessons in good faith. We have taught them these lessons based on our 37 years collective police experience that the majority of those who wear the uniform seek to apply the law evenly. We shield our kids from news that on average in the US, one police officer a day is killed in the line of duty.

    We are not black. We can’t pretend to be black, “act black” or to know what it is to be anything other than white. There is no manual for “how to be black while being confronted by the police or the “loss prevention” person at the mall. The only wisdom I have for my kids is to be polite and keep your hands out of your pockets. I would give this advise to any person who is dealing with the police. So what else is there? How do we meet this responsibility head-on without creating fear and distrust of police offices ( who are not their parents?)

    We adopted the children that God sent us. We would die and undoubtedly kill to protect our children. We pray for guidance, wisdom and courage for ourselves and for the safety of our children. Yes, we are saddened by the news of Robin Williams’ suicide – but no more so than the loss of Michael Brown and the on-going impact his death is having on his community. We have not told our kids about these events – not about Robin Williams. They are 9 and 7 and 4 years old. We bought them school supplies and sent them off on the school bus.

    At a loss.

    Liked by 2 people

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