dark girls

Monday, June 6, 2011

In the wake of the embarrassing Psychology Today article, which has since been removed from their site, I've just been wrestling with the thoughts of what my daughter might one day be subjected to because of her skin color. We get a lot of advice, mostly unsolicited, about raising a child of color. It tends to be from the parents of transracially adopted children. It almost always centers around this basic concept - 'It's not that big of a deal. Don't worry about it so much.'

I never want to be offensive, but frankly, their advice doesn't hold a ton of weight with me. The people I want to hear from are people who are not just raising children of color, they are actually people of color themselves. They're black parents. They're adult and teenage trans-racial adoptees. They're people with experience about what it's like to grow up black in America. I want to know, not what their parents think/thought was best and good, but what they actually experienced. I want to know what was a big deal. What we should worry about. What worked, what didn't. What I should be aware of when I raise my daughter in a world where major publications will still publish articles that say she's not as beautiful as everyone else.

I went to a session at Summit VII about this very thing. A panel of trans-racially adopted adults sat in front of us, openly answered our questions, and were very gracious to a room full of white people, who've grown up with white privilege, trying their best to navigate this world with new eyes for the sake of their children. The biggest take away I got from that session was that it is a big deal. Sure, maybe not as big as spiritual development. Maybe not as important as emotional healing from trauma. Definitely not as important as a loving, stable, intact family unit facing the world together. But it's still a big deal.

Today I found this video, and it just broke me. My daughter's skin is beautiful. I want her to know it. I want her to believe it. Yet throughout her life, there will undoubtedly be people who will tell her differently. Those people may look different than her, or they may even share her skin color. I'm hopeful that pieces like this will continue to open people's eyes to how we view skin color in this nation. I'm hopeful that the pain and trauma represented in these nine minutes will one day be things of the past. One day.

Dark Girls: Preview from Bradinn French on Vimeo.

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