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“Colour-blind” is a Detrimental Goal

29 Jul

All this talk about raising a “colour-blind” generation is quite baffling to me. No, it’s worse than that. It’s disturbing.

I, for one, am raising my kids to see colour!

On the surface, skin colour is a basic, physical trait – just like height or hairstyle or the length of one’s toes. I believe it’s healthy and worthwhile to notice and discuss the way our differences make for a more beautiful collective. It should not be an insulting thing, nor an exalting thing. (Unless it’s the toes. Obviously a longer second toe is indicative of superiority.) It is a simple fact that people have different colours of skin, and ignoring that variety is, well, ignorance.

But of course it’s much deeper than that.

I am a white Canadian, married to a white Canadian. Together, we produced two white Canadian daughters. And then we found ourselves living in Ethiopia for two years and expanded our family portrait with two beautiful black faces.

Our sons are now Canadian as well. I’m willing to say African-Canadian, because they are indeed both. Their African heritage, history, culture and memories are an integral part of who they are – as cherished as their personalities, senses of humour, talents and aspirations. To overlook their skin colour is to dismiss their whole being.

Race is so much more than skin colour. It is the history of a person’s lineage. It is triumph and failure. It is courage and perseverance, strength and independence. It is shared sorrow and collective victory. War, slavery, genocide, hostile occupation, religious persecution, governmental tyranny – every ethnicity has its story, either on the side of the villains or the victims. Those of us with oppressors in our family tree now have the opportunity to demonstrate a generational trend towards humility and atonement. Those of us whose ancestors barely survived unspeakable atrocities can establish a continual growth of perseverance and forgiveness. Colour-blindness repudiates those things which are at the core of our selves.

Skin colour is only one indication of what our heritage may include, but let’s not deny it completely.

One of my sons is much more open to talking about Ethiopia. The other one is somewhat reserved. His story is more painful and private to him. But that doesn’t mean you should studiously avoid talking to him about it. You can ask, and then just be respectful if he doesn’t want to tell you everything. That is much more validating than trying to pretend you didn’t notice that he is black and his parents are white.

It’s also better to ask than to assume. Point of fact, not every trans-racial adoption is international. (And not every similar-race adoption story is local.) But all of them are rich with history, and it is a beautiful thing to celebrate that history.

I absolutely am not saying that race should be used against someone in a discriminatory or demeaning way. I am not racist or pro-racism. But I do see colour. I love colour. I want my kids to see and love colour. I firmly believe that sanctioning a colour-blind generation is not only an extreme perversion of political correctness, but it strips us of our depth of heritage – as individuals, families and as a society.

Whether you’re with me or not, I choose to celebrate colour, instead of pretending I can’t see it.

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10 Comments

Posted by on July 29, 2013 in Adoption, Beauty, Family, parenting

 

Tags: , , , ,

10 responses to ““Colour-blind” is a Detrimental Goal

  1. Korin

    July 29, 2013 at 4:54 PM

    Amen!

     
  2. Kathleen Wells

    July 29, 2013 at 6:07 PM

    Very well spoken, (again) Anita!!

     
  3. Clara

    July 29, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Amen Anita!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     
  4. Tammy Bull

    July 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM

    Bravo!

     
  5. Melissa

    July 29, 2013 at 11:48 PM

    Interesting! I never looked at the asking as part of the equation. When someone said to me last week “oh, so you adopted him I guess” I was speechless. Having biracial kids in a predominately white culture, people tend to only see the Asian side of them.

     
  6. Juli

    July 30, 2013 at 4:30 PM

    very well written! Im black as well and sometimes it feels like Im the odd ball. But my friends have said when they look at me, they dont see color, they see a person who’s a great friend ( not bragging or anything 🙂 So I guess its all in what you allow yourself to believe,

     
  7. Jcm Manuel

    August 6, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Okay, let me admit it: I’ve left you down. You’ve been missing my brilliant comments of course (don’t even get me started on “What I think Anita Thought” and “What Anita Really Thought” and all this lovely funny sh*t – let’s just stick with the reality: you have been missing me. Okay – so far for the formalities. It’s late over here and I suddenly thought “My Goodness, how long have I NOT been visiting my good fr…. etc” – and so I thought I just have to give you a few minutes Non-Detrimental Quality Time.

    Seriously – I recognize your style instantly here. Such a silly phrase like “colour-blind generation” hits your radar and those brain-cogwheels instantly started squeaking and crunching… and you make connections with other things, like hair color etc. – cranking out life lessons. You are good at this. While I would be changing the world radically (read: dreaming of it, sitting on my lazy ass) you take your pen and start writing a blog, and it’s always a good read. Increases my sense of laughter (is anything more important than real laughter inside while the world is still cold and dark? Of course not).

    Funny is also how you instantly jump from colour to “height or hairstyle” (you ARE stalking me don’t you?) – and even “the length of one’s toes”. Hahaaa – there we have it. Toe fetisch. Especially the second toe of course – the superiority-toe. Oh my…. No comment on that one. It’s late, and I’m never in a Freudian mood when it’s late.

    Why do I feel like poking fun? Oh, yes, of course: the laughter. I should be here more often. I read tons of darn dead-serious blogs and stuff, I’m forgetting the laughter. Thanks for reminding me, dear. I’m serious. this feels good. A little laughter sometimes keeps me going for a month.

    Family story, nice. (White Canadian sounds like a sin, but you compensated it colourfully). I love the phrase “To overlook their skin colour is to dismiss their whole being”. I see what you mean. Complexion is not really something to make us scared – that would be giving too much honor to racism in a way. I think I get that. We could call it “positive racism” (as in “positive discrimination”) but that would sound weird and suspicious. “Celebrating color”, as you say – this sounds good.

    You are a courageous woah-man. And funny. I will ever explain my philosophy of funny – but not now. Let me just say that funny, to me, is like deep joy / laughter, but without thinking of it too intensely. In fact no thinking of joy at all – just living it out, in all simplicity, real-time.

    I think we would get along well with each other if we would meet, as friends. Not that I have any plans to swim across the Atlantic any time soon but, just this idea. Virtual friends are no less real I think.

    But if I would ever meet you, I promise I would be very, very careful where I put my feet. I would watch my steps. Because, you know, being superior in fun is nothing to be ashamed of, and I’m not particularly jealous of you. But still, clumsy as I am, I could still step upon it accidentally. And I would really hate that. Because, after this blog, your second toe is sacred to me.

    Have a good day!

    Your Fratre Minore (my index toe looks like E.T. but is really smaller)

     
    • Jcm Manuel

      August 6, 2013 at 7:23 PM

      “Let you down”, not “left you down” – and other typo’s I guess. (It’s late)

       
    • Anita Neuman

      August 6, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      Oh my word, J, I have indeed missed you! I cannot begin to answer all your points here. I’m just shaking my head and enjoying the monologue. Welcome back and don’t stay away so long next time!

       
      • Jcm Manuel

        August 7, 2013 at 4:44 AM

        Thank you. PS. You should consider starting a second blog, something like ineedanewtoe … you are on to something here 😉

         

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