7 Ways To Celebrate Your Child’s Race

In transracial adoption, highlighting your child's race can actually help remind them that they are not "the odd man out."

Natalie Brenner August 30, 2016

With what seems to be a perpetual battle of “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” filling my social media feeds, my small family of four has stepped up its game tenfold to celebrate my son’s race.

We, like too many other people wearing white skin, were raised with the notions that race does not matter, we are all the same, and color blindness is loving. Good intentions gone wrong, my husband and I made a commitment to continually open our minds, ears, and hearts to people of color who lovingly take the time to share their experiences with us. With the embarrassing realization of our complete ignorance regarding the beauty and freedom that comes with celebrating instead of “ignoring” race, we have also been intentionally incoporating our son’s race (black/African American) into our family culture.

It has been important to us since beginning the adoption journey to expand our view of the world and people; there is so much to be celebrated in all of our diversity! It is never too late to learn, to grow, and to celebrate diversity.

Here are seven simple ways we celebrate our child’s race. What would you add to the list?

Toys + Dolls
1. Toys + Dolls

Growing up, I don’t remember ever having toys representing people of color. My parents didn’t avoid color intentionally, but looking back I realize my doll, toy, and Barbie collection was a sea of white. I thought black Santas were weird and incorrect; this is sad and embarrassing for me to admit, but it’s true. Who was I to assume Santa was white? Since becoming more aware of my white privilege and realizing that I am actually clueless, I have intentionally purchased toys and dolls of color and varying races.

2. Art

Ordering prints or canvases off of Etsy has become an addiction for me! There are so many great shops that support adoption and many of them display people of color. We have a gallery wall full of printed images of our family, our kids, and some paintings displaying little boys with brown skin. My favorite so far is a watercolor painting of the brown and white hand.

Diversify community + church
3. Diversify community + church

Best-case scenario is that your community, church, and friends are already diverse and include people who “match” your child’s race. If it doesn’t, be intentional about building friendships and possibly changing churches. Finding a great doctor or sports coach who share your child’s race can also offer unique understanding and experiences. Encouraging your child to have relationships with people who share their race is not only important, but also necessary.

Books + Shows
4. Books + Shows

Seek out books and shows that positively reflect people of color. Too many kids shows, movies, and story books portray villains as people of color or people with accents. This is dangerous on so many levels – be aware and intentional in your child’s entertainment. Here are some books in our library!

5. Leaders

Research, find, study, and learn about leaders who share your child's race. I remember learning in school that most crime was committed by minorities; this (among too many other things) created a subconscious fear of people who belong to minority groups. Study and teach about leaders and role models who are also part of those minorities; allow your child to be inspired and confident that there are no limits for him. Olympians, politicians, actors, teachers, presidents, pastors, doctors, etc. are great places to start.

6. Songs

My firstborn was a carseat screamer, a diaper-changing screamer, a daytime screamer, a nighttime screamer . . . he screamed pretty much when he wasn’t asleep or being bounced by us on the yoga ball. I began early on singing songs to him describing all of the things I love about him. His brown skin, his brown eyes, his almond eyes, his brown hair, his curly hair. One line states that I’m not his first mom or his birth mom, but I love him as if I were. To this day, 7 months into his young life, when I sing that song to him he calms down immediately nearly every time. I plan to sing that song, the song about us cherishing and loving all of him in every way, for years. We also LOVE the sing-along book "Jesus Loves the Little Children" by Debbie Anderson.

7. Move

Yes, move. Move to a more diverse city that has a population reflecting your child’s race, if your city does not. I know a few transracial families who made this big decision for their children. One mom says, “We are moving to a city in October that has a large Latino population. There are 2-4 festivals a year to celebrate Latino culture. Also, the area has one of the largest populations for Latino business owners. It was not an easy choice. We are comfortable and happy in the town we live in now. I find when life gets too comfortable God calls us to do more and be more.”

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Natalie Brenner

Natalie Brenner is wife to Loren and mom to two under two, living in Portland, Oregon. She is the best-selling author of This Undeserved Life. She likes her wine red, ice cream served by the pint, and conversations vulnerable. Natalie believes in the impossible and hopes to create safe spaces for every fractured soul. She's addicted to honesty and believes grief is the avenue to wholeness. Natalie is a bookworm, a speaker, and a lover of fall. Connect with her at NatalieBrennerWrites.com and join her email community.

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