Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

LOOKING is not SEEING This article resonates with me deeply. I didn't realize until giving a speech recently how deeply impacted I have been by peoples', willfully unchallenged peoples', inability to recognize me as my parents' child. This young man was pepper sprayed because he doesn't look like his family. This is an extreme example but the harm and violence the rest of us feel each time someone doesn't see us as part of our intimate relationship is equally if not more damaging. It is a silent and deep harm that continues to happen even in what we think are safe spaces. The scars I bear from years of misidentification as the "fresh air child" or the "nanny" are irreparable. "Is that your 'real' mother" is still the most painful question that I and others like me get asked. Yes, these people raised me, love me, and hold me when I cry. They are my 'real' parents. No, I don't want to find my 'real' family. One family is enough for me (not shaming or discouraging those who do search for biological parents just challenging the assumption that all adoptees must search). I think one of the most vivid memories of the misidentification based on perceived race and belonging came from a second grader. This little girl sauntered up to me and asked "are you Olivia's mommy" (Olivia was a darker skinned mixed race child whose mother was blond and blue-eyed like my child). I told her no, that I was my daughters mommy. This little girl looked at me, looked at my daughter, and then announced "that's just weird and gross". We are not weird and gross, we are mother and daughter. There was also that time when I was accused of wet nursing my daughter. How could a person in 2001 confuse an act of love and nurturing with a slave practice? It is time for our society to broaden our framework of belonging and familial intimacy. Families no longer look like they did in 1950 (and haven't since 1950). Adoption, interracial families, LGBTQAI families, intimate others from a spectrum of possibilities have created a landscape where one might have to work a bit harder to identify who belongs to whom. We are no longer color coded. We are no longer garanimals. One of these things DOES belong to the other. Common sense, a world view that is educated, and a tiny bit of intentionality ... not pepper spray... is all that is needed. ...more soon

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