Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Perfect Race???

Today I had a friend add highlights to my hair...and it ended up making me look more like Billy Idol on a bad hair day or perhaps ready to go surfin' in CA!! Hahahaha! My hair didn't end up highlighting at all but instead looks almost bleached blonde which wasn't the intention but might be fun until it grows out. When Matthew saw it, he had a very interesting reaction, when asked if he liked it he said that now I was like "the perfect race, blonde hair and blue eyed". Now this might not sound as bad once you recognize that he has this huge interest in history and Dominick and he had just had a conversation recently about Hitler and the "Master Race", but it really did make me stop and think about how my sons view their own race as well as ours. Do they really see white as "perfect"? Do they see themselves as somehow inferior? I of course, sputtered and reassured that I thought it was silly to think of any race as "perfect" and that I thought Asians were beautiful and that I wished I had darker skin like Matthew does so I wouldn't burn at every opportunity...but it felt so lame, so weak.

Later as I thought more about it, I realized that there is absolutely nothing I can do to change this...they are Asian and we are white and we can't paint ourselves different colors to look more alike. I also realized that regardless of my efforts to present positive Asian role models, to add diversity into their lives, they will always view themselves as different than us, because they are. It is not as if I hadn't understood this, but the reality of it sometimes hits you in the face like a ton of bricks just as it ocassionally does when someone unknown to me will ask me if I am babysitting because they can't see that these could possibly be my children. We are forever marked as a different family, but I think the main responsibility I have as a mother to my kids is to somehow get across the idea that "different" doesn't mean "bad" or "wrong". There are moments I feel fairly successful at this and then there are moments like the "perfect race" comment when I think I am an utter failure. How can I ever express to Matthew that there never lived a more "perfect" son than he or his brothers??


Anonymous said...

Cindy, I certainly know how it feels when the "race" thing comes up in your family. Grant stated several weeks ago that he "didnt want brown skin anymore." He said he wanted "white skin like Ally and mommy". OUCH! My heart sunk into my belly. I did the same thing you did, I told him I wished I had darker skin like he has. We had a long talk at home about how everyone is different and alike in many ways. It is difficult to measure if the way you parent is giving them self-confidence, pride, and self-esteem even though your child is "different" from the rest of the family. Great post....makes you think!

Anonymous said...


We’ve had similar issues also, especially with my 6-year old (beautiful!) Kazakh daughter. I try to emphasize how God made many different kinds of flowers, butterflies, birds, etc. --and people-- and how boring it would be if everyone looked and acted alike. Fortunately, there are several inter-racial families we know (including that my husband’s brother married someone from the Philippines) which is all very helpful. And sometimes I’ll mention families where the kids don’t look just like their parents (different colored hair, eyes, or whatever). Often our kids’ comments are observations about our physical differences rather than judgments of their own value. When our children were about 4, I (unknowingly!) got a silly children’s book where someone’s eyes “turned blue.” When my daughter said she wished that would happen to her, I got rid of that book. So I would guess that Matthew’s comments are not all that unusual. “A Mother for Choco” by Keiko Kasza and “I Don’t Have Your Eyes” by Carrie Kitze are great for interracial adoptive families.

Hope this helps, you are NOT alone in this!!!!

Love and blessings,

Peggy, mom to 2 bobeks in Virginia