Thursday, March 21, 2013

In Color

Yesterday, I confessed to two women that I have been stalking them. Blog-stalking them. For over a year. I have been blog-stalking lots of women who write about being white moms to brown babies. Especially white moms whose brown babies came to them through another. Especially these two.
I so want to get this right.
I so want to be the mom that each of my boys need me to be.
Most recently, I have found myself pondering how to prepare my boys for a world that professes "color blindness" as the answer to racism and ethnocentrism, while knowing deep down in my soul this can never be true. And so I look for families that look like mine, in hopes that perhaps they have some light to shed on this particular parenting business. And often they do. So I stalk them, and when I meet them, I tell them I stalk them. It seems they understand this. It seems that perhaps they once stalked other families too.
I know, quite well, that "color blind" is a fallacy. Sometimes it's even presented as a fantasy. In fact, there was a time - like when I was 6 - that it used to be mine. But I know, from my very own personal experience, that "color blind" is dangerous. It's a lie. A big, fat dangerous lie, and I want my sons to know that before finding out the hard way. I want them to know that seeing color is beautiful, not oppressive, and that at the same time, seeing what's behind color is how love happens. All kinds of love. And love makes the world go round, so we must always strive to see color, to note its beauty, and then look beyond the wrapping to discover the real gift.
You learn these sorts of lessons pretty quickly when your name is Sara Gonzalez and you happen to be white. This confuses people...a lot. People were never, ever blind to my whiteness. I am pretty sure this whiteness of mine bothered people quite a bit. Sometimes it still does. Cubans aren't supposed to be white, in case you didn't know. At least that is what I was told.  But I am, and I knew that Cubans were indeed often white. Lots of people from Spanish-speaking countries are white. Nonetheless, I was told - sometimes blatantly and sometimes inadvertantly - that I just didn't count. I didn't count because they could see my white, and I wasn't supposed to be white according to what they had been told. It often felt that what lay behind that white never counted to them. But it did to me.
Yet, despite knowing in all ways possible that no one is blind to color, until very recently, I somehow convinced myself that my own children didn't see color. That Nico didn't see Noah's white, and that Noah didn't see Nico's brown.
But I was wrong. Surprise, surprise.
The truth is, I have always know that they see each other on the inside, but I now know that they see each other on the outside. Noah points at brown boys in books and proudly says, "Look mama, Nico!" He sees his brother. He sees his brother on the outside with excitement and with pride. Nico calls the white babies on TV "Noah," and smiles with the satisfaction of "getting it right." 
They see color. My babies see each other in color. They don't apply labels to each other's color, but they see it. They see it with excitement and with pride. My children are not color blind. No one's children are. But they aren't color saavy yet. So that's my job and Trevor's job. I wish it weren't so, but it is, and my children will not be clouded in lies. My children will grow in truth.
And so they must know that others will see their colors - just like other saw mine - and that others might suggest that somehow, their colors are confusing. That perhaps their colors don't match their insides. Or that their colors don't make a family. Or that their colors may cause some people to cross a street when they see one of my son's coming their way.
There are few things I know for sure, but for sure I know this:
My children in silhouette are gorgeous. Nico's lean next to Noah's stocky is, to me, breath-taking.
My children in color count. My children in color may cause others to be confused. My children in color are not responsible for that confusion, nor do they have to ease that confusion. For anyone. My children see each other in color with excitement and with pride. Maybe I am doing something right after all...just maybe.





Bella Mente said...

:) beautifully said! Not only do I think that your babies will be raised in truth with mountains of endless love, but I think you will be teaching other people as well not only about looking to the inside but how to love unconditionally for who we all are, not to ask questions because those questions really don't matter- the insides do- just like you said! If it makes you feel better, I kinda stalk your blog... and others who I do not even know- totally not weird. at. all. :)

Harvard to Homemaker said...

Honored to be stalked and would love to really talk about this sometime!