Thursday, August 09, 2007

Tag, I'm It! I got a comment that "Tagged" me for an anti-racist parent "meme", which I am not even sure what that is! Hahaha! Guess I am not all that internet aware after all :-) But Tina over at "Hearts Open Wide - Adopting from Kyrgyzstan" so here goes nothing, I am answering the questions posted on her web site, and probably will make no sense at all with my responses...go read hers for some better answers...hahahaha! Thanks Tina!

1. I am:

Very simply an almost 41 year old wife to Dominick and mom to 3 beautiful sons. Tina answered this with more ethnicity oriented answers so I'll add that I am truly a Heinz 57, I know I am at least part German but other than that, it has all been watered down so much through the generations that I am clueless. I think I identify myself more as "American" than as an ethnic group, for I am the perfect example of what the melting pot eventually becomes!

2. My kids are:

Matthew - 8 years old, 100% Kazakh; Joshua - 4 1/2 years old, we think 100% Kazakh but that is questionable to some; Kenny - 8 years old, 100% Kyrgyz; Dominick - 43, 100% Italian!!! Hahahaha! Definitely have to include him in there with my "kids".
3. I first started thinking more about race, culture, and identity when:
I was a kid growing up in Southern California, in fact I remember the very first time I gave race a thought, despite the diversity that surrounded me. I had a close friend all through grade school who was half Japanese and half Caucasian. I thought of her as Japanese but the first time I went to her home when I was around 8 or 9 I saw that her dad was Caucasian and her mom was very traditionally Japanese. Although I knew this as a fact, seeing them in person made me think more about what my friend must have thought of herself as being. I wondered if she saw herself as white or asian.

In all reality though, I honestly never gave race much of a thought beyond that one instance. I mean, in my family there were NEVER any disparaging remarks about any other race, I can't remember even one being made. It was just accepted that people were people, and it simply wasn't even on my radar to think of them as anything other than that. Japanese, Hispanics, Samoans, Filipinos, etc. were all around me and for the most part I had very positive feelings associated with those of other races. While our little pocket of Southern California didn't have a high population of African Americans, there was a community next to us in which there were many and I just never gave it much of a thought at all that they or anyone else was "different".

4. People think my name is:

A pretty name! I often joked years ago about marrying my husband for his name only...I love the way Cynthia Lynn La Joy sounds! Although often people assume it is Hispanic pronouncing it as "LaHoy". My maiden name of Roehrman was always misspelled and although actually relatively simple to pronounce everyone always tried to make it harder than it was.

5. The family tradition I most want to pass on is:
That the most enjoyable things in life are free. We grew up never having any extra cash in our family, so we often played games, went for walks in the dark or enjoyed each others sporting events for entertainment. We didn't get cable TV when everyone else fact not for several years!

6. The family tradition I least want to pass on is:

The lack of extended family connection. Sadly, I had no strong relationships with other family members, no close family friends that were a large part of our family life, and I sorely missed that. I want my kids to feel connected to a larger community, a larger "family" and to have other to turn to in times of need.

7. My child’s first word in English was:
Matthew's = Dada, Joshua's = Baba, Kenny's = A boldly pronounced "Kenneth Toktogul LaJoy"!!

8. My child’s first non-English word was:
Not sure

9. The non-English word/phrase most used in my home is:
"Da, Da, Da" and I have NEVER figured out why it always seemed to have been said in 3's by every Russian we listened to! And "Nyet Angleski" is a current favorite :-)

10. One thing I love about being a parent is:
Standing beside my children as they grow and learn more about the world, watching as the little cogs in their minds turn and smoke come sout their ears as they try and learn something new. Watching the changes take place in their bodies and marveling at the miracle that God wrought in our lives. Getting unexpected hugs from sweaty little boy bodies and laughing over who made the "stinky"...I could name a million things I love about being a parent!

11. One thing I hate about being a parent is:

Consistency with discipline is wearing on me at times, and I hate saying the same thing 20 times!

12. To me, being an anti-racist parent means:
Hmmm...big question. I guess for me, it means passing on what I learned from my own parents as a child. There is no good race or bad race, none are preferred. Being an anti-racist parent means focusing my children's attention on people's character rather than the shape of their eyes or the color of their skin. But here's the rub, does "anti-racist" mean totally unaware of racial differences?? And if so, how can I possibly be that way when my own children are part of a very, very small minority in our own town and are faced with other's comments daily? Sometimes I think we take "anti-racist" too far and equate it to acting as if there is no difference at all, when for our children who walk around in a white world with their dark skin and almond eyes there is no escaping that there is a difference, even if only in appearances. I think denying what my asian experience as part of a largely white culture can also be very harmful...for as "anti-racist" as we may be in our own home, out in the world they will no doubt encounter Matthew already has when a child at day care last year proclaimed loudly "I'm not sitting next to you, you're Chinese!" as he quickly moved to another seat. And I will readily admit to there being moments when I feel completely, totally unprepared for the racism and attitudes of others who feel differently than I do.

13. What is the most racist comment ever made in front of your child/children? (I am adding a couple of questions to this.):

"Why don't you get him eye surgery so he looks more like you?"

My comeback: "Actually, we were thinking about having eye surgery ourselves to look more like him!".

14. What is the one thing you have learned through parenting children of a different race that surprises you?

I have learned that not everyone could or should parent outside of their own race, that it takes away anonymity. Often it is not the "race" issue that is the problem, but the fact that you can never go anywhere in public again without comments or stares, and not everyone is up to that particular challenge.

Ok...end of the questions, unless anyone else wants to through one into the mix via the Comments section.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Cindy...your answers are great. And, no, I don't think that anti-racist means pretending that it all doesn't exist. To me, anti-racist parent means being against racism and how we teach that to our children. You are a great mom!


Anonymous said...

I like your reply about eye surgery! Coool!!!

Cindy LaJoy said...

Thanks Boris! Luckily it is not often when things are said like that, but I have had someone tell me in front of Matthew how "all those orphanage kids are so screwed up" and I do get asked if my kids were found in trash cans, assuming their abandonments were under the worst circumstances. When things like that are said right in front of the kids I'll admit it is hard not to want to punch someone!