The cold shock trickled through my veins as my insides began shivering in fury. A polite request to remove a racist statement from an online page, addressed to someone I naively believed had used the words (in a language other than his own) without understanding their underlying ugliness, was responded to with blatant bigotry. My children were within earshot when I spit bitter words at the computer screen. Stupid. Ignorant. Jerk.
My anger quickly turned to despair. If I can't control my emotions when tested by taunts against my children, how can I teach them to do so? I recalled an incident a couple of weeks ago. My beautiful 8-year old boy and I were soaking in the sunshine, drinking fresh, cold juice in the open air of the downtown plaza. I had turned aside for just a moment when a group of teenage boys jostled behind my son's chair and muttered mocking words. I couldn't make them out, but he obviously did. Immediately the joy drained from his face as he dropped his head, embarrassed and broken by what they had said. To this day he refuses to repeat their words, but acknowledges it was not the first time.
Nor, as I was reminded by my altercation today, will it be the last.
So I prayed. I called and vented to my patient sister. I read my Bible (and wouldn't you know it was the "seventy times seven" forgiveness passage?) Finally I hit the internet in search of wisdom from those who have gone before me in this transracial parenting journey.
This article was helpful: How one adoptive family handles racism. Another document was invaluable: Dealing with Racism.
A long talk around the dinner table opened the door to discussing feelings and experiences. "You are not the problem. You are never the problem!" we insisted to our five wide-eyed listeners as we defined what racism is and called it on the carpet as current, and real. We pointed out that there are other kinds of discrimination as well, such as being foreigners or being teased for our body types (at which point my daughter helpfully interjected, "Like the time Mommy was on Eva's roller skates and that couple laughed and said she was going to break them?") Yet we were painfully honest that sometimes, unfair as it is, it will be on the basis of color alone that people will judge them.
It wasn't how I envisioned spending my evening. It made my heart hurt. But afterward, as we shuffled cards and siblings teased loudly and sassy competition raised the volume of family chatter around table, I embraced thankfulness that we are who we are with the challenges we sometimes face.
Help me not to hate ... but to love, as this beautiful, multicolored, many-faceted family loves. With God's love which "shows no partiality ... for they are all the works of his hand" (Job 34:19.)