So since I already blogged my “Rules to Live By” a few posts back, I am going to take a different turn with this one. Miami first-year students had to write “This I believe” essays to submit to the university in the fall. This was mine. It represents only one of my many values.
“Why is your uncle a different color than you?” my friend asked, clearly puzzled by the picture of me and Uncle Adam from last Christmas.
Years ago, this question would have upset me, but over time, I learned to accept that many people were oblivious to my situation. I realized that my new friend knew nothing about my family history.
“Let me explain,” I answered, excited for a chance to enlighten her, “You see, my dad was adopted along with his three brothers and two sisters. Three of them are black, while my dad and the others are white. My grandparents took these children under their wing in the sixties, an era when it was less socially acceptable to have mixed families.”
At the time, many outsiders looked down on my grandparents for doing something so unheard of. They were strong people and the disdain they encountered for their decision to adopt these kids was worth it to them. My grandparents have since passed, but I will forever admire the compassionate people they were. They pushed passed prejudices of their times to raise children whose biological parents were not able to. Today, we see far less racism, notably with the recent election of America’s first black president. Future generations will be forever changed.
Growing up with black relatives, I learned from an early age, whether consciously or not, that there is nothing wrong with being different and to be accepting of everyone. We are all human and all deserve equal treatment, regardless of sex, race, or culture. I cannot understand prejudice people who thrive on preconceived notions of others before truly being acquainted with them. Stereotyping anyone is unacceptable in my opinion. Once you get to know a person, you usually find that they are not as different as you may have thought.
Being adopted can be difficult for my dad because he does not know his family history. My mom tried to get him to search for his biological mother to find out if he carried any predisposition to certain medical conditions, but he has never had any desire to. He considers his adoptive mother his “real mom” and does not want to disrespect her by meeting the woman who gave him away when he was only an infant.
Although my dad’s family is spread across the country, from Los Angeles to Columbus to Baltimore, the time we spend together on holidays is precious. We love each other as much as a blood-related family and I cannot imagine my life any other way. Having a diverse family has benefited me greatly and I believe I’m a better person because of it.
I believe that diversity should not only be tolerated, but celebrated. Racism destroys the beauty in us all. With open eyes and open hearts, we must see the person, not the color of their skin. Everyone has something unique to bring to this world, and I think that is what makes life so interesting.
I guess I could never really grasp how people could be unaccepting of others. We’re all human beings living in this world together, despite the separate experiences each one of us go through. Perhaps people are afraid of things they are unfamiliar with or don’t understand, so instead of confronting those fears, they take it out on what or who they perceive as the problem. Subconsciously, they may know they are wrong, but no one likes to admit that, so they find the easiest target to lash out on. Instead of taking the easiest path out, I feel people should more often try to get to know those different from them. I believe we can learn a whole lot from each other.