The Privilege of Opting In and Out

Picking up on yesterday's post, and continuing to speak honestly from my heart, I have to say that parenting Asher has been an extraordinary window into issues of privilege and race.  Obviously, being Asian-American I have my whole life dealt with the notion of race in general as well as issues specific to Asians in America.  But just as obviously, the African-American experience in this country is a different matter, and (the point of yesterday's post) one that is now an "all the time" matter for me because it is a family matter that affects our son.

To be candid, there have been times (and I'm sure there will be more times) when, through tears, I have wanted to take away Asher's blackness, scared that I am for what it will mean for how he is treated in the future.  I know I cannot do this, and I know I do not want to do this, for it is who he is and it is why he is who he is.  But, I know what his skin destines him to suffer, and so I have moments when I wish otherwise for him.

It is telling to me that the topic of conversations with friends and family about Asher differ greatly depending on if I am talking with someone who is African-American or who has African-American family members, versus not.  The issue of race in America comes up way more; in fact, it is borderline that it always comes up, versus it never comes up.  I think it is because people for whom such issues are an "all the time" matter will naturally consider it something of great relevance to Asher's life and to our journey as his parents.

It is a form of privilege when we are able to opt in and out of such matters, and it saddens me that we often use that privilege to opt in when it is expedient to do so and to opt out when it gets uncomfortable.  Loving Asher is inextricably tied to loving him into and through an adulthood in which he will be a big black guy, and as nerve-wracking as that is for us it is of course something we embrace with all our hearts.  It is my hope, though I will invariably fall short sometimes, that this journey also steels me to stand with all my African-American sisters and brothers, even and especially when doing so is uncomfortable and inexpedient.
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