Dear Mrs. White
This is a response to an article originally published in The Federalist.
Dear Mrs. White,
I am writing in response to your article “The Worst Racism My Children Experienced Came from Black Peers.” Allow me to share a little bit about myself: I, too, am a White parent, through transracial adoption, to two girls. Like you, I am a proponent of sound educational policy. (I, too, was a teacher, and am now a school administrator). My immediate and extended family has members who are in law enforcement and veterans of the Armed Forces. I am also a practicing Christian, and I proudly wear my hair naturally grey. It would seem we have a lot in common.
Where we differ, however, is in our fundamental views on our responsibilities as parents of children of color.
I recall being in one of the required classes for our adoption, and silently seething when the course instructor addressed the realities we would face as parents of black children. I felt that her strong suggestions to begin finding racial “mirrors” for our children – in school, in our community, in places of worship, in friendships – were condescending. After all, I reasoned, we were already doing those things by choice. We already lived (and still live) in a diverse community, I work at a school with an incredibly diverse population, and our church is both diverse and welcoming. Until I read your article, it had not occurred to me that there would be people who wouldn’t see the value in instilling a sense of pride in a child’s racial identity… least of all, parents who were adopting transracially. I can only hope those parents heard the message from that class – racial mirrors are essential in helping a child form a secure sense of identity.
I recognize now how truly blessed I am to live, work, and worship in a community where my children interact with so many racial mirrors. I am grateful for our extended family members and friends who consciously select books and movies for our girls that feature strong female characters of color, and dolls and toys that physically resemble our daughters. I am humbled by the African American women who have helped me learn how to style their beautiful hair and care for their glorious brown skin, both of which are so different from my own. I am proud to have been invited to sit on a panel of educators discussing “The Color of Education” through our adoption agency. I am beyond thrilled that our girls’ photos were selected for a slideshow of images for a subsequent panel discussion on raising black girls.
Our girls are five years old. One of their current fascinations is pregnant women. They know, in an age-appropriate way, that I was not ever pregnant with them. Recently, one of our girls asked if I wished she had grown in my tummy. After a pause to collect my thoughts, I told her that no, I didn’t wish that. I assured her that I love who she is, exactly as she is. I don’t wish her to be any different.
I love both of our daughters with a love that is all-encompassing. That love includes celebrating all of them, including their blackness. I hope to always see, and always celebrate, their color.
Heather Freer Kurut