Single Issue Voter

7 04 2011

Tonight we attended our first pre-school open-house.  (For those of you who live in a big city, I can take a moment to explain what it is like in the rest of the world… you do not have to register your child for pre-school prior to conception or signing on with an adoption agency.  You can wait to do it THE YEAR BEFORE they are ready to actually attend the school.  And, the schools have open houses because they are trying to impress YOU.)

While I don’t know many people in this town, I have heard from multiple sources that the co-op, pre-school housed in the Unitarian church  is fabulous.  So tonight we checked it out.

I like the idea of a co-op.  I loved their playground surrounded by huge trees.  (I am so afraid of the humidity here, I have entered a depression anticipating summer.)  The teacher seemed wonderful.  The location, great.  The price – well, it seemed expensive to me but apparently it is cheap.  BUT….

Okay, all you parents of non-pink kids, can you guess what is coming next….

That’s right, take a minute to study the class photos from this year.  Well, that kid has a Hispanic name and looks tan-ish.  Oh, and that one, well, I think that name is possibly Persian, and his hair is really dark.  That girl has ringlet curls and an unusual name.  Wait, that boy might be half Indian.   Out of the 33 kids in the photographs, four might not be pure pink.

In our last home-town, I could live with this ratio because it would fairly represent the sad lack of diversity in the general population.  But not HERE.

My concerns with this situation are two-fold.  First, Little Dude should have role-models and playmates that look like him.  Second, I don’t want him to be the token whatever in his class, let alone his entire school.

I guess this Mama is going to have to do some research of her own.  I am really afraid of finding out that pre-schools in our town are by-and-large segregated.  My friend, Shonda at God Will Add, recently posted about losing her rose-colored glasses in regards to adoption.  I really hope I don’t have to lose mine about my accepting, little, nobody-even-looks-at-us-twice, midwestern/southern, college town.

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10 responses

7 04 2011
Lori

Ugh, I wish we could sit down over coffee and talk about this. Our son is finishing up his first year in a preschool almost *exactly* like the one described, and we are filled with dilemma after dilemma. The school he is in is right down the street from our house and one of the “best” in our area, but we don’t like that he is the token non-white kid. The teacher does a unit on “Africa ” every year and sought my input. I gave her a bag of books and music; as far as I know, she didn’t use any of them. I brought an Ethiopian friend to tell a folk tale to the kids but the teacher forgot to call him until the night before (and only then when I reminded her). I didn’t hear the conversation, but apparently, she was afraid that any of his children’s tales from Ethiopia might be “inappropriate for 3-year-olds” so he just asked her to give him a book to read. The book she chose is set in Mali, nowhere even close to Ethiopia. I was beyond upset about this and couldn’t help wondering if she would have mistrusted, say, a blond Swedish man coming to tell a Swedish folk tale.

So now our dilemma is do we keep him in another year? Do we start the process of looking for another, and if so, how can we be sure the environment will be more respectful of our son’s origins?

8 04 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

Oh Lori, I have been thinking about his all day. I have no answers. I am sure this teacher has no clue about her racist tendencies. Is it possible to be innocently racist? No, because there is bound to be some fallout from your preconceived notions – especially when you don’t even know you have them. (Lots of conjecture here, obviously.)
Which battles to fight? How to fight them? If you build other positive influences does this or that one area matter that much?
I feel confident that between your work with the elders and your constant contact with so many other adoptive families, you are doing better than many other adoptive families. And, with Little Bee soon to join your family – that is another, amazing positive.
Little Dude has NONE of that, at this point.
As for switching schools – usually I am very fond of the saying, “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t know.” But sometimes I just use that as an excuse to be lazy. On the other hand, you are going to have your hands full with Little Bee’s transition, so maybe Abe doesn’t need one more new thing in his life.
Let’s skip the coffee and open a bottle of wine.

7 04 2011
Erin

Wait… since when did you have a rosy view of your new town? (though I do think of your $1-kids-clothes Good Will often)

I sure hope you find a non-segregated, good solution! Keep us posted.

7 04 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

One of the only things I like about this town IS the diversity, which is why I am extra disappointed.

8 04 2011
Christine

Oh SFmama, that does suck. I also live in a college town. I always thought that living in a college town meant diversity. The students may be diverse, but they are kind of like tourists, they’re not real unless you are with your kid on campus. I am so interested to know about the other daycare places around you. I don’t envy you that humidity. I know what it’s like there in the summer. I just sweat and sweat and it never evaporates because of the humidity.

@Lori, wow. That’s crazy. I totally agree with you, that if a Swedish person were coming in she probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I am disgusted to hear this, I’m sorry.

8 04 2011
leigh

Well, this isn’t really the same but my DD had a playdate the other day and the little girl must have said the word “CHINESE” in every sentence she used for the first hour she was at our house. Honest. It was weird. Like, “I like Chinese food” and “Do you have Chinese decorations in your room?” and “My Mom took me to Chinatown” and I wanted to say to her, um….sweetheart, we get it, Sonia is Chinese, let’s move on now.

It was as if she wanted to be my daughter’s friend because she was exotic or something. And now I am having weird flashes of what’s to come.

Someone remind me…what year is this?

8 04 2011
Semi-Feral Mama

It is the year in which Sonia’s playdate’s mother reminded her, “It is no big deal that your friend is Chinese… so please don’t say anything silly.” And then the poor little kid who probably never thought about it before just kept saying sillier and sillier things.
I always want to blame adults for things.

8 04 2011
Shonda

We struggled with this same thing. About this time last year we learned our small private school would be merging with another private school that was slightly larger and in a very wealthy part of town. The two merged grade schools would now be held in the new building. We went for a tour, met some of their teachers, etc. ALL. I. COULD. THINK was “every single one of these kids is white” and that thought made me really sad. The merger has happened. It’s still not as diverse as I would like, but not nearly as white as I originally feared, and there are lots of adoptive families. I’m hoping it will be less of an issue by the time Joseph starts school, but now that MB is in the picture … well, not sure what I think about that yet?

@Leigh – that’s hilarious!

8 04 2011
claudia

when you and Lori sit down for coffee and talk about this, can I come too? I think about this all. the. time.

11 04 2011
fricknfracks

Ugh. I will give you my opinion, but first a disclaimer… I am very biased. I grew up in a lily-white Catholic city. I was a half-breed (Jewish & Catholic) but identified mostly with my Jewish roots because my mother’s the Jew. I was the only Jew in my school and always felt like a freak. Even when people seemed genuinely interested in talking about Judaism, I shut down because I did not want to be the spokesperson for my tribe.

We had two black kids in my school. They were brothers adopted domestically by white parents. One of the brothers, Michael, was in my grade and we were always pretty close (he was 2nd chair clarinet & I was 3rd). We reconnected at our 20th class reunion and enjoyed a long conversation about how much his upbringing (no diversity in school or town) pretty much effed him up.

In my humble opinion, please keep looking.

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