I have a confession to make. A few years ago, I really believed that there wasn’t a lot to this idea of racial tensions. When I was growing up no one had to sit at the back of the bus. (Some of us just wanted to hide in the very last seat.) Segregation was something my grandpa remembered. I thought everyone loved Martin Luther King, Jr and the dreams he paved the way for. I still get choked up when I watch “Remember the Titans” and I struggle in my heart to believe that any human finds the color of skin to be what defines greatness in a person.
You see, I am one of those people who will judge you based on the way you speak, the intelligence you project, and the kindness in your heart. I was humbled by growing up with less money than some kids had. I didn’t get to wear Guess Jeans, and it crushed me, and there were girls who made fun of me for my lack of brand name clothing, so I learned early on not to judge a book by its cover.
Without all the fancy clothes, I was this girl who was quiet, but full of fire and smarts. I was guarded, but if I let you into my world, there was depth inside of me. And those girls, with all their fancy clothes, were empty inside. They didn’t have a little light to let shine, and I knew nothing would ever change how shallow they were. The Guess jeans are no different from skin color, these are the things that decorate us on the outside.
I know we are all guilty at times of holding prejudice within us, but the challenge we face is to throw prejudice out the window, because prejudice is nothing more than an assumption, and we all know what assumptions start with! Humanity was meant to be a rainbow of fruit flavors, don’t fool yourself into believing any one color is better than another!
I had fooled myself into believing that our world, well at least our nation, had moved beyond such backwards thinking. Aren’t we the generation of equal opportunity and glass-ceiling busters?
Apparently not. Apparently its all just hype. There are still companies that give men more money than women for the same jobs. There are still places where being filthy rich is your only way to get through the door. And there are still people who actually think skin color defines character.
Adopting four bi-racial children pointed that out to me! Once I was in the doctor’s office, and I was trying to dig through the binder of paperwork I was carrying around. (When CPS places children in your care, you need a form for everything, including running to the doctor for a runny nose.) The kids had just been placed with me, for the second time, and as luck would have it, they all four had the swine flu, which meant that my three children would soon have the swine flu too! I was a little overwhelmed, sitting there looking for a form to show I had the right to get these kids some medicine, and I looked up at the girl behind the desk at the Clinic and laughed it off by saying “I don’t know how I keep getting myself into these messes.”
Just then, an older man looked at my 4 little kids, looked back at me with a disgusted expression, and said “I do, you outta try watching TV!” I was appalled. For all he knew, I could have been Angelina Jolie. I could’ve had Brad Pitt out in the car waiting to drive us to our next adoption adventure. Instead, he sat there in his chair assuming I was some girl desperately trying to dig out my Medicaid cards because I wasn’t smart enough to take birth control pills. URGH
Lucky for me I have been surrounded by an amazingly supportive group of family and friends, and rarely do I let such comments get under my skin. In fact, there is something almost comical about my husband raising bi-racial children. Really, if you could see it, I promise you would laugh! My husband is this bald white guy, and he is sooooo white that if he took his pants off you would be blinded by the snow. When we hit our small town Wal-Mart, these two white people with 7 kids and half of them are black, well, we raise some eyebrows, I can tell ya that! Most of the time, we look at those eyebrows and just giggle.
Those who look down on us over the color of these kids are missing out on knowing what we know: children are truly the greatest joy God gives to us! About a year and a half ago, I made a little slide show video for my husband, full of pictures of this crazy journey we have been on. I loaded it on YouTube so I could share it on Facebook with our family and friends. This morning, I opened my email, and the video had a new comment. I figured one of our friends must have been digging around on Facebook so when I opened the comment I was completely unprepared for what I read.
“great song, touching video,but is it just me or did they somehow have nigger or mexican kids later in life or mutt grandniggers I dont see how they could be proud of that I will be very disapointed if my wife or kids ever had mutt babies if I didnt kill them it would be because they had enough sense to stay away from me i dont know if i feel bad for these people or think they are retarded for having pictures looking happy with little nap heads either way I SMELL WELLFARE AND DISAPOINTMENT”
You’ve got to be kidding me right? Do people really still behave like neanderthals? Apparently so! I replied, which obviously prompted this person to delete their comments, but not without ruffling my feathers just a little bit. So I clicked on their YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/user/timmyamandaabigail) and started reading all of the comments this user has posted in cyberspace. Wow! Backwards thinking really does still exist! Of course I was so angry, this person is lucky they had a username to hide behind. I was plotting some serious revenge in my head. Then, I realized, how could I be offended by someone who can’t even spell disappointment? Didn’t I just say I like to judge a person by the intelligence they project? Time to let this one roll off my back…
I am big on saying every cloud has a silver lining, and I have already realized what today’s silver lining is. I was ready to defend those babies with every word I could say (or type). I was ready to jump through cyberspace and kick some assumptions out the window. I think that is what really defines a mother- not the ability to give life, but the ability to give up your life over them! I know without a doubt in my heart that I was born to be the zookeeper! I’m happy to be the matriarch of this crazy house I like to call the Prestridge Zoo, where we are proud to raise 7 children, and take care of the 4 dogs, 2 turtles, some fish, a few frogs and lizards, a bird and the cat and a half (yes, we have half a cat because he only comes around half the time) that comes along with them! Nothing some backwards thinking YouTube user has to say is gonna steal my joy today! This is MY life…