Saturday, June 12, 2010

My backyard

You know the one thing that really, really worried me when we moved from Georgia to Washington? Every. single. person. I encountered was Caucasian. And I don't mean "Italian-American" or some other ethnic background that you could kind of peg as being part of the melting pot experience. No--everyone was homogeneous, white, and essentially lacking in any cultural identity outside of the good old Red, White, and Blue. This was startling, having moved from an area where we were decidedly in the minority, where the bulk of children in Jo's preschool class were African-American or the Spanish-speaking children of migrant workers.

I realize that not all of WA is the same. There are large concentrations of Japanese-Americans in Seattle, and a reasonable representation of Mexican-Americans moving out toward my neck of the woods. The rest of the state, I can't speak for. All I know is what I see in my library, grocery store, and church. And what I see is mostly white, sprinkled with a less-than-generous handful of the darker browns of African-Americans.

Seeing this and wondering how it would affect our children in the long run, Mr. Blandings and I set about purposefully creating as many multicultural friendships as possible for our kids. Some have been a success, and some have been marked failures. There were times when we wondered if we were crazy. "No one else worries about this," we thought, "Why are we making such a big deal out of it?"

But today, I saw some of the fruit as I watched my three very pale Irish and German descended biological children play in our back yard. Participating joyfully in the elaborate village-building pretend game was a Nepali girl, two Latino children, and a girl recently adopted from Ethiopia.

It almost brought tears to my eyes. This is what the Sunday School song meant when it talked about "all God's children." Beautiful shades ranging from alabaster to brown. Children whose first languages range from English to Amharic, from Spanish to Nepali. Playing. Enjoying one another. Getting along. Seeing no differences--only friends to share an adventure with.

I am not a huge fan of the "it takes a village" mentality. I don't believe that the government--or my neighbors--are responsible for raising my children. But I do believe that we ARE a village. God created a gorgeous array of cultures and peoples and languages. Raising our children to be comfortable with the many different flavors of life that He created does nothing but add another layer to His glory, I believe. Taking the time to weave ourselves fully into His colorful fabric has to bring Him even more joy than I feel watching my 8 year-old call out soccer plays in Spanish while learning how Ethiopian children kick balls barefoot.

Life is beautiful.


Janet said...


There are all kinds here - near and in Chicago!


Rosita said...

I still remember the culture shock when my family moved from inner city Baltimore to rural Idaho. And I was only 5...I am glad to be back living and raising my children in a much more culturally diverse area.

shawna said...

Hello! Just stopping by to say "Hi!" I'm a Homeschool Crew newbie.

Realized with the mention of Washington that we're pseudo neighbors... though reading this post, not very nearby ones, lol!

I'm smack dab in the middle of the Columbia River Gorge, which is an area that has a hefty Hispanic population, assorted other minorities - and probably the most peaceful co-existence I've seen. Thank God. :)

Amy Jane (Untangling Tales) said...

Hope you still read comments.

This is a similar need I have felt for my family (especially with subtle but marked racism among certain relatives), but I have no idea how to go about this. We have one Korean and one Burmese family in our homeschool group, but other than them we never "see" any other kids of color.

I'm not sure where to look, and as an independent homeschooler I'm afraid of the inevitable questions and defensiveness I get from the average public schooling mom.

I'd love it if you could do a post highlighting what you've tried. Especially what you've seen succeed.