Those Evil Laws

Being the parent of a Black child means I have to talk to her about some things more intentionally & earlier than I did with my big kids. With Ponyboy & Jasmine, I didn’t have to teach them about racism, about our country’s ugly history, about Native American genocide, about segregation before it came up in school.

(actually, i DID have to, i just didn’t know it)

For Martin Luther King Day, Addis’ Kindergarten teacher read the class a book about MLK. When I picked her up that day, the teacher grabbed me & told me that Addis was the only student who knew who he was & what he did, & she shared what she knew (beaming with pride). Of course, she is the only non-blonde child in the class.

(maybe i’m exaggerating here, there may be a few non-blondes. but you know, alll those white kids look the same)

It started almost TWO YEARS ago when she was racially attacked (https://peanutbutterinjerasandwiches.wordpress.com/2012/07/16/my-kids-not-racist/) I realized that I needed to teach her about racism so that she knew it when she saw it. So that people couldn’t use words against her, so that she would really know what was going on when ugly people belittled her…I already *knew* this, I just didn’t know that I’d have to start it so early in her life. I didn’t know people were racist against beautiful 3 yr old girls.

So I had to teach her about our ugly past (and present). We started way back in the Old Testament, with the Egyptians enslaving the Hebrews. We talked about The institution of African Slavery in the Americas. The American Civil War took place because enough people found slavery abhorrent & wanted it to end.  We talked about how there are still slaves everywhere in the world today.

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We talk about how it is of utmost importance to speak up when someone is being held down. That may mean a child is being bullied at school. It may be a friend saying ugly things trying to be funny. It might be discriminatory laws. We talk about Malala Yousafzai, how she was shot in the head (along with 3 other girls) and how that didn’t stop her from doing what she knew was right to do & now she is changing the world. A teenage girl.

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I can make a difference. You can make a difference. She can make a difference. She WILL make a difference.

Are Hearts Made to be Broken?

How old were you when you first had your heart broken?

How old do you expect your little girl to be when She first has Her heart broken?

One thing about parenting that I don’t especially like is when at 5ish they start having experiences in the world beyond My influence. The go to school. They get dropped off at activities. They go on playdates without Mom. And they hear stuff. They might *gasp* hear a “bad word”. Some evil negligent parent might feed them a GMO laden Pop Tart. They might watch a scary movie. And You won’t know. Ack, scary stuff I tell you!

It’s also at this age that their friend relationships move out of mom’s control. They are learning how to possibly interact with a bossy friend. Or a friend who “flat leaves” them for someone better. How to be diplomatic. How to judge a situation they maybe should leave.

Sigh. It happened. I didn’t see it coming. She had her little love-filled heart torn out of her chest & stomped on. And in front of another soul-mate-ish friend. And their (interloping, other) BFF.

The good thing is the Heart Breaker didn’t do it maliciously. I’m pretty sure she meant no ill will at all. I suspect that she doesn’t even know what my daughter was so upset (SO UPSET) about. She was happy to appease Addis & carry on the friendship.

But I feel like a line has been crossed. Now when she hears a story (or sees it in a movie) about a Friend Gone Bad, she Knows. She gets it. She feels the tragedy. She knows that someone she loved openly can crush her in an instant without a second thought. I wish she didn’t have to live in That World for a little bit longer!
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Anniversary

Three years.

Wow. What the heck were we doing all those years before? I can barely remember not having Her.

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Three years ago:

  • I had just returned from Ethiopia after meeting my little girl
  • Although the wait for our Embassey appointment wasn’t terribly long, it sure felt that way.
  • My neighbor had a baby shower for me. I wore a pillow under my shirt.
  • We were finishing up getting that little room ready. Straw colored walls, Pink & green trim, princess blanket (which has always been her favorite), cute pictures on the walls, shelves full of books.
  • Jet lag. Seriously, I didn’t see it coming, it took a long time to recover from!
  • Pictures, pictures, pictures. I couldn’t stop looking at them!

The first pictures we saw of Addis she looked stunned & worried. When we met her, her expression was flat. In fact, she had that flat look to her eyes until she had been home for about 6 weeks.

First dayThis picture is from the first daw we met her.

 

Are Your Boobs Fake?

This was my Facebook status recently;

HEY WHITE PEOPLE:
Its fine to give a compliment, but WHY would you ask if a little girl’s hair is “real” or “fake”?

Two of my (adoptive mothers of black girls) friends “shared” this. Here are mine, & their, responses:

  • What about if a brown person asks?
  • Amen…
  • First of all Brown people know better .. second they dnt ask if tits r real…lol 
  • No they don’t, not in Florida! My son’s girlfriend complains about the invasive hair questions all the time
  • That only mean it looks too good to be true, doesn’t it? Plus, what does this have to do with race? I’ve asked the same thing about a blonde’s hair color
  • I hear ya, never known a little white girl that was asked if her hair is real or fake and I`m older then the moon ~~
  • Oh my. Why ask anything? Compliment or go away!
  • I was once asked if my daughter has a perm. Yes…. I permed my one year olds hair. Ridiculous.
  • Me:  Black people know what her hair is. When a child is asked DAILY if their hair is “real” it can affect her self-image. Especially if it s a feature which is very different from everyone else. We all know how to use google. I love the “nice boobs, are they real?” comment
  • Me: asking a blonde, who is old enough to color her hair, is different than asking a little girl ifs she is “fake”
  • First of all your little’s girl iS AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!! Is she alone when ‘RUDE’ people ask this question or not??? I HOPE SHE IS WITH YOU AND KNOWING YOU, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO COME UP WITH AN ANSWER THAT WILL BLAST THEM OFF THEIR FEET AND THEN GIVE THEM A BIG SMILE AND WALK AWAY I would like to be there when you do it!!!!! I have even come up with some answerrs in my own mind that I would say to them but that is you choice but make them GOOD!!!!!!!!!!  Let me know what you do do or say, please, and give your little a big hug/ Remember her hair is so awesome that when they first see her they are blown away by how awesome it just is!!!!
  • Me: She gets if with me and on her own. I’m saying something about it so that if people Don’t know, well now they will.
  • Me (to a deleted comment): A compliment is fine. Asking a 4 year old -especially an adult asking- “is that fake hair/is your hair real?” is not okay. Black people know what it is, or how to ask if they are looking for more information. Just about every day that my little girl has extensions in (which she loves) she’s asked if her hair is fake. By white people,children AND adults. There’s quite a difference if you’re asking an autonomous person a non-invasive question.
  • Me: It is a different context when a white person- particularly an adult- is asking. In our culture caucasian is the “default” setting. Whether or not You personally find black women attractive, our culture percieves caucasian as more desirable…black features are not the ideal, black hair needs to be “fixed”. I was told (by an Ethiopian-American woman) that its too bad Addis’ hair is so bad. Usually when it’s a white person commenting/asking they don’t KNOW about extentions. So, this is my Public Service Announcement. If you are about to ask a little black girl if her hair is “real”, go to google. That’s what it is for. Hearing comments DAILY makes a little one question themself…she wants to have Rapunzel’s hair. Let’s face it, it’s not likely to happen. So she gets extentions, & then is questioned continually to explain herself.
  • MeYES, I KNOW I signed up for this.I signed up to have my daughter quesioned “where’s your mom?” “how come your mom is white?” etc all the time. And, because I signed up for it, It is MY JOB to educate those around me. If you didn’t know, as a THREE year old, my daughter was subjected to a racial attack. The world we live in will only include more people unlike yourself, so if what you hear sounds odd, listen to it & see where the other person is coming from.
  • I know what you are talking about. The other thing we have had problems with, even with the boys is people       touching their hair without asking and then making comments. I can’t believe how many times I had to ask adults   “please don’t touch their hair”. The boys are bigger and scarier now but Tauni still has strangers touch her hair without   asking. sheesh people.

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Apparently, several people found it offensive that I said “hey WHITE people”. I wasn’t out to offend people, but if You needed to hear the comment, it was my job to tell you.  This “conversation” occurred about 3 weeks ago, but is still coming up.

 

Half Mast

Sometimes, when there’s something particularly tragic in the news, I get obsessed with it. I can’t stop watching. If I’m not watching, I’m googling articles about it. Or talking, continuously, about it.

I can’t imagine how a parent gets up & faces the new day when their child has been murdered.

Especially, if you return home to find your child dead, and it is your other child who caused it.

What do you DO??

What the **** do you DO?

 

no i don’t want to include a link. the story which is haunting me isn’t even the only one, recently, which could be described as above. 

If You Don’t Have Anything Nice To Say….

This is a contribution by Jasmine. She had an assignment to write an essay on a phrase that has had some meaning in her life.

So this morning, I finished writing a paper for my English class about why it’s okay to be mean. By request, here it is.

We have all experienced that moment squirming in our seat, biting our tongue, that odd chuckle that escapes our lips as we died inside trying not to laugh at the extremely funny but rude comment that has built up inside of us. We must contain ourselves. The phrase we have heard a hundred times from our parents, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” rings in our ears. Yet, we have also found ourselves at times blurt out the inappropriate comment and suffocated laughing at our own joke. We had no remorse; it had to be done. 


My grandmother used to say the same thing, almost. I recall many memories sitting in the tall wooden chairs of her old-fashioned kitchen listening to the room echo with laughter, at one’s expense of course. You occasionally hear a new comer, who has not yet learned the ways of our sarcasm, complain of the pain this joke has impaled into their feelings. Then, the wise words of my grandmother can be heard, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Unless it is REALLY funny.” Then the laughter will once again break out at this wisdom.


Although it might seem rude and as though we have no self-control, there is something we call all learn from these words. Living here, in the small town, I have noticed that anything that could in any way offend anyone is off limits. People just will not say it. There is always more than one view point and often, for good intent, people will look only at the view of those it could possibly offend. My grandmother’s words have impacted me, I have the ability to laugh at myself and find the humor in things rather than the harsh rude view that many around me see. Please, do not think that my family and I look for opportunities to say something mean. The rule is to not say anything mean, unless it is REALLY funny. My family might have a mean sense of humor and sarcasm, but I would rather live in a house filled of impolite laughter than a home filled with political correctness where I would have to think twice about every word that comes out of my mouth

Hugs Mom  (I did have Jasmine’s permission to share this)

(In fact, I told her when she wrote it, that I was putting it on my blog. She has since asked a few time if I shared it yet.)

My Kid’s Not Racist

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My American Girl

Well, It happened.

Our beautiful girl has been home for 21 months. She’s almost 3 1/2 years old. And this beautiful, friendly, little girl has been told that she’s not liked because she’s black. And because she’s African, and nobody likes Ethiopia either.

By someone close to us.

I am so pissed. I am disappointed. I am sad.

This person is almost 11 yrs old, is the child of someone close to us, & is a neighbor.

Fortunately Jasmine was there. She yelled at him, she took Addis away, & she called & left a message on the parent’s phone. Not sure what I should do from here.

The thing is, I knew that this would happen, sooner or later. But by a friend?? And at THREE years old?? WTF?????