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.