Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The race card

I never thought I would say this. I finally understand why some black people are so quick to draw the race card. Here's the situation.

We all know kids can be mean. It's like they have a sixth sense that can sniff out vulnerability in a heartbeat. Marin is just not yet equipped to successfully disarm mean or cliquish American kids. She does not have the verbal skills, the confidence, nor the combativeness.

The comments Marin faces most often are "You're stupid" "You're an idiot" "I don't like you" and "Your brown skin smells funny". Believe me. Marin is a smart, sensitive, and sweet kid. It's not just because I'm her father. Virtually every adult says these things about her.

We tell Marin that kids who behave that way really feel bad about themselves so they say mean things about Marin to make themselves feel better. Then we role play Marins' responses to these aggressions. Sometimes she pulls it off well, but many times she speaks with such trepidation that the bully would become emboldended. It's going to be a long road.

Back to the race card. I am so tempted to teach Marin to say, loudly "Look, I know the only reason you are talking to me this way is because I have brown skin and I am going to tell the Principal right now. You will be in the deepest trouble ever." Sometimes it feels like the only foolproof weapon she has. And its' kind of like verbal karate. You insult me because I am black, so I will use your racism against you. You try to isolate me because I am black, and I will use your racism to isolate you. You try to marginalize me because I am black, and I will use your racism to silence you. You try to degrade me because I am black and I will use your racism to minimize you.

I am beginning to realize the power of the race card. The beauty of its'design is that, in the proper hands, it cannot be successfully employed unless some racist first creates the opportunity for you. It is self governing in that way.

Monday, August 24, 2009

She got skills

Can I brag on Marin for a minute?

Last week she participated in a weeklong soccer camp. On Wednesday, Marin came home and told us she won the MVP of the day (she doesn't even know what MVP means, just that everyone clapped for her and gave her high 5s). On Wednesday evening, I met the coach and asked him about the MVP. He told me they give one MVP award every day of camp and Marin won today because he had bumped her up to fill an open position on the 3rd and 4th grade team and Marin made some key contributions on defense and scored a goal. "Marin plays far above her age" the coach said.

Then on Friday, they held a mock world cup tournament of 16 teams and Marin's team (Hungary) won the mock world cup. She had a wonderful week and we are so proud of her success.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Brilliant Idea

Read "all my gold for a photo" two posts ago.

One blog reader suggested we could contact a police sketch artist to draw the African parents based on how our girls described the parents. Great idea that we took one step further.

We contacted the local college of art and asked to speak with a portrait specialist. The Artist agreed to draw a portrait of both parents based on (1) what our girls look like (2) photos of the siblings, newphews, and nieces of the parents (which we have) and (3) descriptions voiced by Marin and Emmy. So, using all three sources of info, the artist will create the portrait of an Ethiopian couple that we will then frame and hang in our home.

Let's hope this works!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Perhaps a game of chess?

Over the weekend two of my friends visited and decided to teach Emmy to play checkers while I prepared breakfast. I am overhearing snippets of the coversation.

What really caught my attention was when the two adults said, in unison, "Wow, that was a great move. How did we miss that?"

Turns out they had told Emmy what move to make. And Emmy said "No. I want to do this one." And it was a way better move. The kid is amazing. She connects the dots so FAST!

All my gold for a photo

Emmy cried herself to sleep last night. She said she wished her African mommy could visit her and see how much she has grown and what a good girl she is. She asked if her African Mommy could visit from heaven for just a few minutes and then go back before anyone knew she was missing.

Finally, we got to the bottom of why Emmy was so upset. She has forgotten what her mother looks like. Because her mother passed away before we travelled to Ethiopia, we do not have a photo of the mother. Poor Emmy. Her wailing was so pitiful. She felt so guilty because she has forgotten what her mother looks like.