Lincoln, Lily, Martin & Me
Have you seen Lincoln yet? I won’t get into all the gritty of my emotional reactions while watching this film, but it did make undeniably clear how the types of arguments used against ending slavery through the 13th amendment and the eventual legal equality of the races are the exact same kinds or arguments being used against gay marriage. For some that may make it easier for you to forgive those who voted against the 13th amendment, fearing the slippery slope or loss of morality in the United States, but it makes me sad that we seem not to be learning from history or even listening to ourselves.
Race is an issue. In my experience it is less of an issue than it was five years ago when it was less of an issue than it had been five years before that. We are getting better, America – thank you – but it is an issue. Some would like to believe there is a “there” we will eventually get to where race will no longer be an issue, but I’m not sure that “there” can exist – certainly not in my lifetime. As a multi racial family, perhaps we are more exposed making it more difficult to hope we will ever get “there”.
It is interesting to me that people will brazenly ask questions when a parent and child don’t “match”, but few people even blink when adults of different races are holding hands (or otherwise obviously more than just friends). I am a secure adult; talk to me about the men I choose to date. My child is developing his identity within an adopted family; why would you bring up racial identity in front of him like he is an exhibit at a museum? Why does it even matter if he is adopted or where he was born? If you aren’t curious how I met the man I am dating who is a different race than I am, then I don’t understand your curiosity about how I met my son? (Your kid came OUT of you? That must be weird and complicate your relationship.)
When people ask less than appropriate questions or when I was trying to keep myself calm while watching Lincoln, sometimes I sing Lily Allen’s F*ck You to myself. While there are many times I would like to say “F*ck You” there are many reasons I cannot. As a women and as light-skinned as I am, I could potentially get away with it, but my son is male and darker, so anger, even out of hurt, is likely to exacerbate any potential problems for him. Mijo has to learn from me that ignorance, well-intentioned or not, cannot be met with anger. Ignorance ideally needs to be answered with patient education. Unfortunately, I’m kind of a loud mouth who occasionally wants to respond with shocking things like “now I understand what they meant by once you go black you never go back *wink*“, but my son’s presence keeps me from being such a hooligan.
The thing I like most best about Lily Allen’s song is that while she is saying what she is thinking, she does so in a sing-songy way. Ignorance is ignorance. While there are people who truly do hate and see people as unequal, most people are not malicious. Let me not be the crazy Latina; let me not be the uppity white woman. If I want people be accepting and loving to my multi-racial family, I need to be lovable. That is my job, not Mijo’s job. He is a kid who gets to be a kid and act out if he needs to (to a degree). He has been through enough already. He did not choose this multi-racial family. While I think he is adorable, he does not need to be the cute face of adoption advocacy. It is my responsibility to protect my child, model appropriate responses, and reveal the best of my character to encourage people to judge families like mine not by our skin colors but by our love. But I still may be singing Lily Allen in my head….