I actively learn about being anti- racist. I want to be part of the solution. I want to prove to myself- I would have hidden Ann Frank, I would have sat with Rosa Parks, I would have listened to John Lewis and Martin Luther King. But in itself that is a selfish reason.
Adopting Mim could be seen as a form of protest. I am valuing her life as a black child, as a child with a disability, enough so to change the fabric of my family. But my reasons for adopting Mim were selfish, too. I wanted her. I pleaded with the adoption agency to give us any baby who was not finding a family- “difficult to place.” I wanted to be a member of the Disability Community. I wanted to have the life of a mom of a child with a disability. I wanted to have my life forever altered by the profound nature of being different. I desired the immediacy and mindfulness of having a child whose disability demands a more constant love and care than that of children who are typically developing. We selfishly adopted Mim to broaden the outlook of our family and in turn protested by appearance without a word. Here we are. The Rodi’s.
My car and the t-shirts I wear do my protesting, too. Bumper stickers covering the back and mushrooming around the sides claiming “We all do better when we all do better.” Bold words across my breasts “Have Mercy.” or “Be Kind” in sign language.
In this week of muting myself, I saw my worlds colliding. It’s all connected, you know. I started with a deep dive into anti-racism. I found myself coming up for air in the world of Body shaming and Health at Every Size (HAES) and Eating Disorder World (my well known friend).
@werenotweighing and @amapoundcake
And as I swam in this beautiful pained world of joy, I swam right in to the Black Disability World. And of course, the mothers. When George Floyd called out for his mama, mothers everywhere respond. While swimming in the ocean of anti racism, I managed to come up to the surface and float with my dear friends. This week of muting myself allowed me to quiet my own voice and thoughts and rage and listen to many varied members of the Black community. I was able to see the connections.
The catch is I’m white, so I got a raft in case I get tired of swimming. I have my whiteness to rely on- access to Health Care, health insurance, an abundance of food, a college education, a free pass in to the white world. I don’t want to explain white privilege. I want to assume the people who read my blog understand white privilege, acknowledge it and are working tirelessly to dismantle systems of oppression.
I want to be clear. I am aware that white privilege allowed me to swoop down and adopt Mim. I could say- no family could be better for my girl. But that probably isn’t true. A black family could have possibly been better for her. Her birth parents chose us from a sea of one. Her birth parents have severe disabilities. Mim was not expected to walk or talk or eat and I wanted her so badly. I wanted her chocolate skin, her delicious dimpled cheeks, her deep eyes, her tiny balled fists, and her curly hair. I am so lucky that she is my girl. I am so profoundly happy that we were her one.
*(Please never say to a family or a child that the child is lucky and fortunate and BLEST to have been adopted by you. Adoption is traumatic and fraught for a child and their family of origin. A child isn’t lucky to have a family that loves them. A family should be a given for all children.)
[I have rarely allowed my brain to contemplate that youtube woman who broke her adoption of a boy from China because of his disability being more than she bargained for. She should never have been allowed to adopt. I bet her blonde hair and shiny white teeth fooled everyone. Disgusts me.
Tales of an Educated Debutante wrote about this Youtuber family that disrupted and dissolved their adoption of a child with Autism. Adrian Wood is a great blogger and mom of a child with autism, who tells it like it is. Click the link to read.]
I was sitting on the dock at my mom’s with some neighbors. Everyone in her small condo community is older because people like to retire to Hilton Head. And they are white. So we are sitting there, and a tall white haired man in A Notre Dame shirt asks where I live and I say Atlanta. “Oh- Gotta get out of Dodge. From the looks of the news, looks like you left at a good time with everything they have going on there.” My shoulders started clinching. My chin held a little higher. Blood rising from my core, but I’m not a quick thinker. The words I know and the words that come out in the moment never match.
“You have it here, too.” I managed to get out.
“In Hilton Head?” the Mister said.
“Yes, peaceful protest are everywhere. Hilton Head, Beaufort, Savannah, Charleston. People are protesting everywhere.”
They left the dock a minute later. Storm clouds were coming in like a dramatic closed curtain perpendicular to the water.
I wish I had said, “I am really worried about all the police brutality in our cities. Are you concerned about the police brutality?”
What I wish I had said…
One of my sister’s friends was saying that she is so happy to live on Hilton Head Island where there is no racism. “All kinds of people live here without any trouble. It’s so nice that we don’t have any racism.” White folx keep in mind- just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. This area- Beaufort County, SC decisively voted for Trump. Trump is racist. South Carolina as a whole, believed that a racist should be president of the United States. A lot of other parts of the country did too. I do not blame the South or South Carolina- my point is that racism is alive and well.
Where are the Black people in your community? Do they live next door to you? Are they at your child’s birthday party? Or are they- bagging your groceries, cooking in kitchens, sitting on folding chairs in front of trailers without air conditioning. Atlanta has so much work to do! Big work. Lifelong work. But I love living somewhere that people talk about racism. I am glad we have a Black woman mayor. I am proud that I live with black people. I am proud that many Black people in my city have more money than I will ever have. I am proud of the culture and the music and the art and the diversity.
Today, I’m going to a protest. Again, I’m being selfish. I love protests- energized by passionate knowledgeable people who are so optimistic and faithful that they haven’t stopped believing in change. to have hope in the face of racism. To be an adult and have not given up on the idea that a better world is possible, I hope to be infected by the contagiousness of that reckoning. I am hopeful that many of us will use our light to shine on injustice and racism. Use our abilities, talents and time to address this crime of humanity. I can use my knowledge of eating disorders, birth, and disability to rights to influence what I know about being anti-racist. I have elevated my ability to engage in the world of justice by listening to Black voices and the Black Lives Matter Movement. Let’s not quit after the week of muting ourselves and learning is over. Keep up the good fight.
“My philosophy is very simple: when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just…do something! Get in trouble! Good trouble!” Senator John Lewis from the proud city of Atlanta, Georgia.
*The featured image- the Black child with her eyes closed is my youngest, Mim.
Here she is in our family.