I grew up in a small town where there was little diversity. In a way, I have always felt like it made me more open to different races and ethnicities. In fact, when I read Judy Blume’s Iggie’s House, I was appalled that the neighborhood would treat the Garber family the way they did simply because of the color of their skin.
This book was written over forty years ago, but have we come very far? It seems perhaps we have not. The fatal shooting of teen Trayvon Martin may be one example of how much farther we still need to go. Not knowing all the facts yet, if ever, it is hard to make that call.
Another example is the recent reactions some movie goers have had to characters in The Hunger Games. People are outright angered that the two tributes from District 11, Rue and Thresh, were cast with African-American actors, even though they are described in the book as “dark skinned”! The hurtful and hateful language they have tweeted is disturbing, to say the least. The scariest part about this is that many of the tweeters are (or were as many have removed their tweets) kids/teens! Interestingly enough, Anderson Cooper completed year long research for a special on AC360 entitled Kids on Race: The Hidden Picture airing this week. I was saddened by what these kids had to say. It seems we have not made many strides.
These incidences hit home for me in a very personal way; more so, I think, than it would have even just six months ago. I recently adopted a baby. She is African-American, and as I watched the news about Trayvon Martin and read the article about The Hunger Games, I was brought to tears. It did, however, remind me that I need to become even more aware that these things still happen and hopefully I will be better able to answer questions she may eventually have. I did try to prepare myself by reading others accounts even before I knew I would be adopting a non-white baby, but I realize never having lived through it personally, I cannot be fully prepared. I know the best I can do is raise her to be an open, loving, respectful person and surround her with the same.