Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My Take on Racial Issues

After Duffy's post on racial issues, I feel like I should chime in. Part of me takes the hippie approach: "All you need is love", but I'm saying that having grown up white in a neighborhood that can best be described as 99% white. I don't know what it's like to be a minority. While I've certainly been party to being judged based on my looks, it's usually been, in my earlier days, by girls choosing to dismiss me before I even worked up the courage to talk to them at a pick-up bar -- and that is NOT discrimination, just good sense on their part.

What I'm trying to say is that, while I can claim that being raised in a loving family is "enough" for a black, white, or polka-dotted child, I have absolutely no experience in such matters. I can only say what I hope is the case, and then try to do my damnedest to make that the case.

In the current political landscape, one of the current criticisms against Barack Obama is that he isn't "black enough". What if my child goes through the exact same identity crisis? I mean, this child is going to be raised in the suburbs by white parents. Yes, we will do everything in our power to ensure that the child accepts who he/she is, and feels proud to be the person that he/she is - but, really, what if that child feels that they deserved to grow up "black"? Heck, I don't even know what that means.

I think Duffy touched beautifully on the facts of adoption - anybody who finds out that their birth parents could not / chose not to parent them is destined to have some level of abandonment issues. On top of that, we have the potential of being asked "if my birth-parents couldn't parent me, why couldn't a same-race family take me in?". Honestly, I can't say, for certain, how I would respond. I do think that race issues in this country are continually progressing to the point where "race issues" will not be a term in some future generation's vocabulary. We are not close to being there.

All we need is a voluntary, free-spirited, open-ended program of procreative racial deconstruction. Everybody just gotta keep f**n' everybody 'til they're all the same color.
- Sen. Jay Billington Bulworth, Bulworth (1998)

I guess, my last words on this are: I really, really want to be a father. I hope that's apparent to anybody who reads this and/or knows me. I firmly believe that a child raised in a two-parent household is better off than a child raised in foster care. I know that there are proportionally more black children placed into foster care in this country than any other race. I believe I can be a good father to any child. I believe that I will be a good father. I'm already doing research into what may be different in caring for a "child of color" than typical care of a white child (heck, if Duffy said that she wasn't eagerly anticipating learning how to care for a black child's hair, she'd be lying). I'm looking forward to showing my child role-models that they should follow from their own race (and yes, everybody John Coltrane will be involved in discussions of such role models). I'm looking forward to showing my child role-models that they should follow from his/her parent's ancestry (the gold spoon history of the Batzer name is actually a pretty cool story). I'm looking forward to teaching a child how to throw a curveball, and play the piano - how to read, how to drive. Yes, we're not in a race-blind country, but I like to think that being a good parent is a race-blind activity.

(sorry if this was a bit preachy)

1 comment:

La_Femme_Nikita said...

In a country where a young black man is more likely to go to jail than to college, anything that attempts to change that, in my mind, has got to be good...