The Power of Words – South Africans Need Some Context

Context_Logo-04Sitting with a group of 16 students earlier today, I was amazed to find that no less than 11 cultures were represented. These ranged from Twsana, Zulu, British, Italian, Jewish, Afrikaans, American to name but a few. It was an energizing experience as we discussed some unique traditions and practices from the various backgrounds represented.

Last week we were treated to a barrage of racially inspired or fuelled incidences, from hair styles, babies compared to dogs to inappropriate words. South Africa never ceases to stretch the boundaries of what should be seen as ignorant/foolish comment. I sat listening to a radio show where one particular caller took it upon himself to vividly depict what mark Twain meant when he said “Better to Remain Silent and Be Thought a Fool than to Speak and Remove All Doubt” Continue reading

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Racism, Ignorance or Plain Stupidity

racismI find myself in a unique position. I believe I have a different perspective. I am certain God has allowed me to occupy a space where my voice will find favour with various groups in our beautiful South Africa.

I am fortunate in that I have the opportunity to dream about the futures of my three amazing children. I can occupy my thought life with the hopes and dreams of my sons’ growing into men who stand for what is right and true. Who know when to sit and listen whilst at the same time, confident in their ability to know the times when they must stand with confidence and speak with courage. My beautiful girl brings me such joy, her strength and poise allow me to confidently declare that she will inspire some and she will convict others. She dresses herself with beauty and boldness, and yet she is not even 2.

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It’s NOT your Culture – An open letter to those who want to protect heritage at the expense of the children for whom that heritage exists

protectcultureWOW, that’s a headline! It’s been quite a week, possibly one of the most emotionally challenging to date and I suppose the straw that broke the camels back and inspired my writing this open letter to all those custodians of heritage who seek to protect their culture by enforcing it on would be adoptive families.

 

 

 

Dear ______,

On the surface you have chosen a noble cause. The idea of upholding all that is sacred, all the traditions and beliefs that have steered one’s family or group towards who they are today. Yourself and other custodians of culture and heritage will, I’m sure, be acting with the best of intentions when seeking to enforce that those beliefs continue down the blood line from generation to generation. I even agree with the idea of protecting the essence of who you are and who came before you for the benefit of those who will come after you. Especially in such a diverse country such as South Africa, so well done!

I hope you understand my heart in this and not simply shut yourself off to the idea that perhaps we need a rethink of our approach to culture/heritage when applying it strictly to Adoptive parents and families.

I have 2 son’s, one store-bought, one homegrown, one chocolate and the other vanilla, they are my inspiration! They are equally beautiful and fierce, solid and all over the place, funny and serious. The common bond they share was not formed at a cellular level, it was not forged out of DNA or blood. Their bond goes deeper and extends further than mere genes. They are eternally bonded as brothers, spiritually united in the Body of Christ and both are equally, in all aspects, living as my sons.

The one came into our home and our hearts through birth, the other through adoption. That last word is where my belief in upholding culture/heritage becomes a little challenged. You see, my youngest son may be a little browner than his brother, but because he has been adopted into our hearts and our home, his past, present and future has been re-grafted into my culture and heritage. He is a little black boy, full of wonder and awe, bubbling with energy and purpose, he carries the spiritual lineage of God and me.

Let me be honest, I am in complete disagreement that I should uphold the culture of his bloodline. Do I dislike it, do I disagree with it, honestly, I don’t know enough about his bloodline to hold any firm position. I do believe that in an attempt to pass something from his past onto him, you may water down the completeness and eternal nature of his adoption. You see, adoption is so powerful that it wipes the past away and creates a new past. This new past finds its routes in the culture and heritage of the family into whom he/she has been adopted.

I know in South Africa we want to uphold all that has passed and more than that celebrate the variety and richness of the different cultures but frankly when you take a little black boy, place him into a non-black family and expect that they teach, protect and perhaps instill their new child’s previous culture into him, as well as have him find his place in this new world, all on account of the colour of his skin, that seems a little unfair.

Black children are not born with the culture/heritage of their past tribal generations any more than white children are born with a racist gene. A child is a child, he/she is raised and groomed to take on the customs/beliefs or culture of the family/group within which he/she exists. Does that mean should my son want to explore the rich culture and heritage of the bloodline from which he comes, I will dig my heals in a declare his culture is mine and he should look no further? Absolutely not. In fact, if that day comes, I’ll be right their learning and experiencing with him. But please don’t enforce a belief or a label on him based on the colour of his skin, I’m pretty sure that has been tried before and with little success.

My son is my son, he is mine, he’s not Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa, Ndebele, Shangaan or Venda, he happens to have brown skin, but that’s all, underneath he’s just like his brother, except for the hair (I’ll give you that one, they are slightly different.)

Please, let’s embrace the completeness of adoption. The barriers to families welcoming in a son or daughter whose icing is different from their own are numerous without us lopping on another requirement. let’s embrace them as children, our children. Lets treat them as completely ours without conditions that their homegrown siblings need not worry about.

Sincerely

A loving Father of 2 boys, and God willing, soon, a little girl. Oh, and she’ll be my little girl, my angel. No other labels need apply.

Tell me what you think