Thursday, September 22, 2005

Racism still exists

I am not an expert on racism, by any means. I am a Caucasian female, and while I think there have been times I was discriminated against due to my gender, I've never really experienced discrimination because of my race. As a white person in this society, I don't know what it's like to be called names or hear racial slurs flung towards me with hate. I don't know what it's like to be given treated poorly or looked down upon because of the color of my skin. Nonetheless, I do know that racism still exists.

I am the mom of an adopted biracial daughter. My husband and I knew there would be "issues" surrounding the fact that DQ is biracial, and before the adoption we discussed whether or not we were going to be able to deal with those issues as they came up. We didn't adopt her for noble reasons. We knew she needed a home. We needed/wanted another baby - and we could have waited another six months or so to get another white baby. But when our lawyer called and said DQ needed a mom and dad immediately, we knew it was meant to be.

Initially, there were the typical adjustments of getting used to a new baby in the family. The oldest daughter, TP, immediately fell in love with DQ, and there was no jealousy. Our family, friends, and church community were very accepting of the newest member of our family. for the most part. The general public greeted us with stares, at times, and some comments were made, but most of them were positive in nature. I'll never forget the time some elderly black women were just making a fuss over DQ, and one of them leaned over and whispered to me, "There'll be a special place in heaven for you, sweetie". Throughout preschool and grade school, DQ was very accepted and loved for who she was - a bright and precocious girl with a beautiful smile which melted your heart.

In seventh grade, we decided to send DQ to a different school where her sister already attended high school. This school combined junior high and high school together, and it was in a smaller town 20 miles to the north of here, and a school bus was provided for transportation. TP had been welcomed there with open arms, and was benefitting immensely from the smaller class size and personalized attention at that time (this, too, has changed - but I will save that post for a later time).

Seventh grade was very hard for DQ, however. The kids in her class were (and still remain) extremely rude and obnoxious. They didn't allow for "differences" of any kind for any person, and were quick to put down others who weren't like them. They didn't listen to the teachers or the administrators, and they were known (quite frankly) as "the class from hell". You know it's pretty serious when the religion teacher tells you, in confidence, that the girls in DQ's class were the worst he had known in his 50 years of teaching. He even said to me "Valerie - you wouldn't want DQ to be a friend with any of those girls".

I gave DQ the option when it came time for her to go into 8th grade (a year ago) as to whether or not she wanted to return to that school or go back to the school she had attended up until 7th grade. She ultimately decided to return to that school, stating that she wanted to be able to teach the girls how to be nice and kind to others. I went to the principal of the school before the school year started, and discussed my concerns to him. He assured me that he and the teachers would keep an eye on things, and so I gave DQ the go ahead to return.

We would ultimately live to regret that decision. I will continue this post in a couple of days.


At 7:42 PM, Blogger Nettie said...

It's always amazed me how not just big horrors, but subtler ones, have been fuled by religion. Makes you wonder what happened to love thy neighbor.

At 8:23 PM, Blogger HeyJules said...

Oh Jackie...I am so sorry that your family has to go through something so horrible. You make sure DQ knows how many of us out here are routing for her to show those other girls who the REAL winner is in all this. And that we're praying for their hearts to soften and grow to accept DQ for who she is and NOT what she looks like.

At 9:20 PM, Blogger Jackie said...

I was nudged in the direction by Jule over at Faith or Fiction. And I just wanted to post my support for both you and your daughter. I never experienced racism at school (I'm white) but I did expereince bullying and I know that that isn't any fun, and unlike the advice that most adults give, you can't just shrug it off and ignore them. However, in my expereince I just wanted to say that what helped me get through those terrible years was knowing that I had a mom that I could come home to who would listen to my, let me cry on her shoulder and who would go to the ends of the earth to help make things better. I don't know the situation, but I know that even when I didn't want my parents to go to the school principle they did anyway, and when that didn't work they went to the teachers and when that didn't work they went to the parents and luckly that worked, because I knew that the next step was the police. (at the time and now I am so glad that my parents didn't listen to me, and they went to the school even though I didn't want them to, it made all the difference in the world)

Please let your daughter know that she is supported and loved and that one day, things will get better.

Much love and Prayers

At 9:29 PM, Blogger Green-Eyed Lady(GEL) said...

Hi Valerie,
I flew in here via Darlene's blog.
As the mom of 2 teenage daughters very close in age to yours (18 and just turned 16) one who has worked in education, I've sadly seen what you're describing from both sides.
Our daughters are not biracial, but we do have relatives as such and other differences that should be treated with courtesy and dignity.

It's hard enough to be a teenager, but also to battle being "different" when that should not be an issue. It's part of her, integral to her pride.

I'm part of a minority as are my husband and children. Bias has always existed but that doesn't make the hurt, frustration, or anger any less easy. With age, comes maturity and practiced ability to deal with such by choosing when to take action and when to ignore it.

Sometimes bias is blatant; other times it's veiled. Many's a time it's surprising or shocking. It's not easy to deal with and I wish you, your family, and DQ the best. Life is not fair, but I sure wish it was. My heart goes out to you all.

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Julie D. said...

What a heart breaker and especially when DQ is really trying to do the right thing and show these kids how to change. Bullying is always ugly no matter what the reason because the reasons are always so stupid and senseless. My heart goes out to DQ and to you. (forgot to say, but Jules sent me ... I'll be back to hear more though)

At 11:41 PM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

Val, my heart goes out to you and to DQ and to TP. This is something that Christians, praise God, do not understand or can explain. Satan wears many disguises and wears many hats. He can make Christians believe his lies but he wants more, he was the agony and the terror and misery, too. I praise God that DQ wants to help these girls learn a better way. I will pray with you on this, too.

At 4:21 AM, Blogger ~m2~ said...

another one sent by jules...

it astounds me that this is an issue for her; bless her heart for still wanting to do good. God will exalt her for that, and many other reasons as well, i am sure.

i'll be praying for you and will follow this journey.

At 5:18 AM, Blogger ukok said...

Jules nudged me over here too and I'm glad that she did. I want to extend to your family my heartfelt prayers on your behalf, to the Lord our God.

I'm so sorry that your daughter suffers at the hand of ignorance, may the Lord have Mercy upon the souls of her persecutors.

God bless.

At 8:40 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Nettie - I wonder about that, too. I've often said "Love is not a color" to DQ.

Jules - Thanks for your post about this issue, and for encouraging your readers to offer me support. That is so appreciated.

Jackie - Yes, bullying is a HUGE problem. As this story goes on, you will see how she was bullied time and time again. I am like a lioness when it comes to my kids - very protective and I won't stand for anybody intentionally hurting them. Thanks for your comments.

Green-Eyed Lady - I will be very interested in what you have to say as you read how I handled the situation, as you are in education. The teachers and principal will now no longer look me in the eyes when I enter that school (my oldest daughter is still there). Thanks for your insight into this.

Julie: I appreciate your comments. DQ was losing the battle in terms of trying to get the girls to change - it was just part of their culture, passed on from their parents, unfortunately.

Gina - My only explanation is just plain ignorance on their parts. Although I do think that for some of them, it may have been malice, too. It is just so sad that yet another generation is being groomed to believe that racism and bullying are okay.

M2 - Thanks for stopping by and visiting, and for your prayers and support.

UKOK - I am sure the Lord will shower his mercy on their souls. I know that we have forgiven them, but at times, we still get angry over the situation.

Thanks again, everybody, for your prayers!

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Barbara said...


I know you have touched on this before and my heart goes out to DQ and all that she has been through.

You said

They didn't allow for "differences" of any kind for any person, and were quick to put down others who weren't like them.

This is so true. Be it colour of skin, disability, size, whatever - anyone that does not "fit" within the narrow confines of their experience is, unfortunately, a candidate for some sort of harrasment. And teenagers can be so cruel, and in my personal experience, girls worse than boys. With boys its physical often, but with girls..emotional or mental bullying leaves deep, deep scars..shudder.

You have obviously struck a chord with the folks out there...

Blessings to you for having the courage to share this.

At 4:45 PM, Blogger Addie said...

Im here from Julie's blog too, and I can certainly relate (even though I am white), we live in a predominantly black area (a little bit of role reversal there)... but DQ sounds amazining and I know you must be so proud and hurt at the same time.... I wish you mountains of luck and faith... we are thinking of you

At 5:34 PM, Blogger Barbara said...


I just re-read what I wrote earlier.

I just wanted to clarify a little what I meant.. I meant when boys are the perpetrators, the bullying is often physical - but with girls - yes there is some element of physical abuse but I was trying to say that they are more likely to wound with words..which can leave just as deep scars as the physical. Is that clearer. I am not saying that it is always that way round either.... and boys can be just as hurtful and hurt by words too..

ok I shall end off now - before I tie myself up in knots!!!

At 8:53 PM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Barbara: I knew exactly what you were trying to say - and it is so true. I appreciate your support so much!

Addie: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I look forward to getting to know you better.

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Sarah said...

DQ sounds like a great kid. I know I have said this before, but you don't get many kids like this often. You raised your children well, I can tell, they are srong children. Prayers for your sweet hearts.

At 2:27 PM, Blogger Livy said...

I read you note yesterday. The link was given to me by Barbara. I know how painful all this may be. I know it because I'm a mother of a 4 years old who started to wonder what's wrong with being brown as he said. I've had the nasty comments all my life and I never got used to it (I'm Black), but you know what? Being prepared is the key in my opinion. Talking to the child about the way she will be viewed all her life and being honest about it is essential. Mine is only 4 and I deal with things as they come along but when he's able to understand more things, I'll tell him that life is a bit harder when you look different to the majority of people surrounding you. I've heard Black is beautiful. I say black, white, yellow, red is beautiful because he looks exactly how God wants to look like and he has a destiny he's going to fulfil. Ugliness and nastiness is unfortunately part of the journey. He'll learn from it.
I'm sure your child will always consider your home as a refuge, a place of peace, a place she can charge her batteries. Talikng about her look, her hair, her heritage is a way to make her accept her be stronger. In other words knowledge is important. I remember at 14 a white boy telling me how stupid Africans were for living in hot countries and yet they didn't invent the fridge. I also remember telling him that they were clever because they could live for centuries and frankly nicely, without a fridge despite hot climates. Anyway, cheer up and chin up, from what I've read you're doing a good work.
PS: my blog is not what I put to be able to post a comment.

At 10:33 PM, Blogger The Gray Tie said...

ah, cliffhanger!


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