What are we asked to shoulder? What items are tucked away in our nap sacks? What is it that you keep stowed away in tiny compartments and zippered pockets? What things do you slip into our satchels, unbeknownst to us?
I saw some of the extended family tonight. Sat there at the kitchen counter were cousins and uncles of my father. All Robinson, they reminisced over family and the current goings on of different extensions of the family. I had a glass of wine and listened, mostly I talked to my mom. It must be said that I don’t care much for that side of the family, but they are nice enough so I am not to bothered by their presence. That is until you get a bit of spirit into them, then their true colors come brimming out with such aplomb (sarcastic).
It was a conversation for my mother and I, but being Robinson’s gives them exclusive privileges to but in and give their two cents. Mom had informed me much to my surprise that my sister had bought another house, a house her husband had been saying they needed in Lou of the new baby. A house they can’t afford, a house that in my opinion they really don’t need. So I was talking exclusively to my mom, half jokingly, that it’s people like my brother in-law who are the cause for the housing bust and it’s honest people like me who are going to have to bail his sorry ass out.
Enter extended family.
“What is this youthful, Liberal, Obama Hussein, Muslim, bullshit you’re talkin’ about.”
“You young kids are all the same. Don’t tell me you’re supporting that Muslim terrorist. All his fancy talk and smoke up your ass shit.”
“You liberal, Hussein, Bin Laden, Democrat, kids talking all your far out ideals and all that. Don’t tell me you’re gonna vote for that Muslim.”
Oh for Christ sake really?
I was just talking to my mom about my sister and brother in-law over extending themselves financially, and this is what I get. I wasn’t even talking to them. I wasn’t even talking about that. I was discussing mortgages and housing prices and loopy brother in-laws.
The lines of dialogue(if you can call that dross dialogue) above are just some of the more tasty comments I endured. But it made me think. Anyway I thought about my adoption. I thought about a lot of adoptions, about the people who say they want to adopt, the people that say they would consider adopting, and those that have already adopted. I want to know what it is that you carry around with you and what is it that you will pass on to the children you adopt.
As I sat through a thoroughly unjustified lambasting about my conceived political choices (I never once said who I associated with or who I intended to vote for, I guess they just assumed a young guy talking about current events must be some radical left wing extremist) and then tried to explain the mortgage bail outs and why they happened, I couldn’t help but think about what I was brought into. I mean look at this family, look at the mindsets that are prevalent throughout.
I was listening (well not actually listening) to someone who was clearly racist. I knew both sides of the family, mother and fathers, harbored some sentiments towards people of different races. I hadn’t seen it in years though. After my grandparents died and families kept in very loose touch, I really never saw too much of the extended family and therefore saw less and less of the racism and prejudice I had grown up with. Now I hate to actually admit it but I know that some of those blind prejudices in all likely hood reside within me. This is something I carry from years of exposure.
I know my parents didn’t consider this when they adopted. They knew both their sets of parents were outwardly racist. They were from the old school or the old country or somewhere really old, so to them it was ok and therefore natural that they spoke outwardly about not liking people, for whatever reason. These were the people who I was entrusted for many an after school afternoon or even during the day when my parents worked. The family that was over tonight were the same people who I grew up around, when family gatherings were more frequent. The same people whom back in the day I would sit around the card table with or on the couch watching the game, listening and absorbing while they made off the cuff remarks about people of color.
Now I know that they all love me, and on the outside they accept me. But what about when they got in their car tonight, slightly inebriated from all the drink, what is that they really say about me, about the first presidential candidate of color, about Spike Lee and his new film. (I doubt they know he has a new film but if they did what would they say) What words do they choose to use to describe us.
But more importantly how does this impact me, a minority of color. Maybe a a better question is how has it already effected me. Years of exposure to this, a lifetime of being conditioned to think a certain way. How will I view myself or how do I view others. I just wonder if people consider what it is they carry with them. Whether it be racism, intolerance, hatred, whatever it may be, what is it that we all travel with and how will we pass it to our children. Especially our transracially adopted children.
So just think about this. What tasty little pieces have been put into your satchel? What did your parents give you and what will you give to your children? Knowingly or not.
-lets not forget that as we get older and move from childhood to adulthood to old-folk-hood we get a better feel for the things we have strapped to our backs. Somethings we forget are there and some weigh on us heavier than others. But as conscious human beings we all have the ability to choose what we will take with us and what we will leave behind.