Adoption, My Story

Racial Diversity: From Minimal to More

The Great North…

Living in a Minnesotan suburb and attending a private liberal arts college ‘up there’ meant I had a diversity culture shock when I moved to a university town in Central Illinois. It’s not that where I lived in Minnesota had no racial diversity, but what I thought was diverse, was actually just a few non-white people here and there. My college was really pushing to increase diversity on our campus and also raise awareness of bigger issues pertaining to the subject. While I was there a new program began, the Racial Reconciliation Studies program. I thought this was pretty cool and listened from afar as people talked about the importance of such a program. I even felt like I was automatically walking as racially aware because my values were in-line with what the school was teaching and I didn’t disagree. But I was wrong.

Just South of Chicago…

When I moved to my current university town, I was amazed at how many different people groups there were all around me! My time in Illinois showed me how much I had been missing and also clued me into what my husband, Putty grew up around – him being from a Chicago suburb. In fact, Putty teased me a bit when he realized some of my earliest comments about diversity were leaning towards amazement at the level of diversity around me. He said, “Brittany, this is like where I went to elementary and secondary school and grew up. It’s not that abnormal actually.” I took that comment in and realized that there was so much more that I didn’t know!

Racial Reconciliation…

After we decided on a church to attend, I joined the Racial Reconciliation meetings held on Sunday mornings. I was so glad to be in a diverse group and meet new people and learn new things. I quickly came to realize that a lot of the racial reconciliation I was encountering seemed to be mostly between the African Americans and whites, and not as much between other races. I heard people share their hurts and couldn’t believe that they had endured certain prejudices through their lives. I couldn’t believe that some of it was still happening either! Hadn’t we grown out of this as a country? Well, I guess I was getting my diversity education after all.

As the years have gone by, my eyes have been opened to more of the racial injustices and inequalities in the world. I am saddened to learn about them, both past and present. But this learning is also a part of growing up, maturing, and entering into society. I was protected from a lot of what was going on in the nation and around the world because I was young and focused on studying, but now my focus has widened. My ears are opened and so are my eyes.

Sometimes People will Assume…

Case in point: As I was sharing a particular insecurity with a non-white friend, she said that sometimes I was just going to be seen in a way that’s not the truth of who I really am on the inside or for the true motivations of my heart. Sometimes people will make assumptions about me based on their perceptions without really coming to understand the heart of who I am. … And then I got it. This is what my non-white friends, family, neighbors, classmates, workmates, and strangers have had to come to terms with early in life. They learned at a young age that, “Some people are just going to treat you badly… because of your skin color/race.”

I didn’t have to learn that growing up. No one cautioned me that people would treat me differently because of my skin color. Instead, I was taught not to treat others differently because of their skin color. When I was cautioned that some people might think badly of me without cause, it was due to my beliefs, my actions, or my preferences, but not my skin color. 

Be the Change for the Future…

Although there are strides to make it better, it is sad that it’s still a part of our reality at all. I want to be a part of positive change for the future. I want my actions and words to be laced in love and understanding. I want my inner thoughts to be first thinking the best about people, not assuming the worst. And in regards to a transracial adoption, I want my child to experience the same positive openness that I seek to give to all those around me.

One way I’m doing this currently is by reading and listening to a lot of media about transracial adoption. The books, blogs, and podcasts have opened my eyes to so many more factors involved in the everyday life of non-white children. Often, I’m amazed at the wealth of cultural diversity displayed by all these different people groups and then other times I’m so filled with sorrow at the negative aspects of racial prejudice in our society. I’m encouraged when I hear about the ways that people have made changes and triumphed over these negative situations. It helps me learn how I can be a part of the change, by acting in a way that’s always honoring of all people groups and just by loving the person in front of me without taking skin color into effect. Each individual is a person to be treated with the utmost respect just from the simple fact that we are all created by God who loves us each as His fabulous child.

Past Participation

As I reflect more, I am encouraged to realize that even though I didn’t know how much I was missing in the racial arena years ago, I have consistently taken strides to be involved in interracial groups. As I mentioned before, I joined our Racial Reconciliation Group at church to be a part of positive change in my community. But, I also was heavily involved in an International Group and even shared the Director role with my husband for a time. We had wonderful opportunities to be deeply involved in with Chinese & Korean individuals. When I look back on my time with this group of people, my heart feels such warmth of love and gratitude. We were immediately welcomed to participate in the cultural celebrations and meals with our East Asian friends. It was fascinating, fun, and filled with joy.

Mandarin Tutors & Students

Even though we’re not directly involved with this ministry anymore, God hasn’t stopped tugging at my heart to keep learning about different cultures and valuing the different parts of these groups. We traveled to three European countries in the last year and got to see how even within our white-to-white interactions there, we had so much diversity. Actually, Brussels had a lot of diversity outside of our common European ancestry due to it being an international city. My heart is inspired to continue to love those around me, celebrate the unique traditions that make each of us part of our own cultures, and learn, learn, learn!

How Are You Learning?

I am making steps and strides towards a greater understanding of racial diversity. Sometimes it might seem like it’s slow going, but there’s great encouragement when I see that it’s not stagnant. What about you? In what ways have you worked towards greater racial diversity – whether in learning or participate – in your life? I’d LOVE to hear what’s moved you forward in this area in the past and present.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s