The real experts on adoption are the people who have lived the experience—adoptees. What do young adult transracial adoptees say are the most important things white parents must teach their black kids to keep them safe in this racial world we live in?
Whenever we hear a case such as the killing of Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown (or the local cases of police violence against young black men that never make the national news) every parent of a black son wonders what they can do to make certain that their child doesn’t become a statistic. White parents of African American children have the added disadvantage of teaching their children about a situation they likely haven’t experienced.
For example, on a recent Creating a Family radio show on Interracial Adoptive Parenting: White Parents with Brown Children, the guest said many black parents know that in order to get their driver’s license their children, especially their sons, must not only know the basics of how to drive a car, change a tire, and avoid other crazy drivers, they must also understand what it means to DWB (Drive While Black). As parents they have the added responsibility of making sure their sons can control their temper and stay respectful and safe even in situations that seem/are very unfair.
On a Creating a Family show with a panel of young adult African American and Haitian American adoptees, I asked what their parents did to prepare them to live safely in today’s world and what they would recommend for this current generation of transracial adoptive parents and children. They gave the following five suggestions.
What White Adoptive Parents Must Teach Their Black Kids to Keep Them Safe
- Teach your children that they will be judged by the color of their skin. This is a hard subject for many white transracial adoptive parents because they want to believe it isn’t so, but avoiding this harsh reality can set your children up for harm.
- Teach your children that racism is ignorance. Don’t close your eyes to the existence of racism—notice it and name it.
- Teach your children to always be respectful with authority. They can rant and rave over the injustice once home, and you will listen and not downplay it, but in the moment, don’t give authorities a reason to over react.
- Teach your children to not fear authority. It’s a fine line between respect and fear, but you want your children to know that authority figures can and should be available to help them.
- Teach your children that they will always have to be better than white kids to be considered as good. Yes, it’s a double standard. Yes, it is unfair. Accept it, and make sure your kids know it.
Would you add anything to the list?
P.S. You might also enjoy this wisdom from the same panel: Ten Things Adult Transracial Adoptees Want Adoptive Parents to Know.