V Chavis

Raising Culturally Connected Children: Why Transracial Adoptive Parents Must Prioritize Valuing Black People

To raise Black children who are proud of their heritage, it's essential to demonstrate that you value the Black community and culture. Valuing Black people requires more than just passive tolerance or talk of empathy and anti-racism. Transracial parents must actively engage with the Black community in constant and consistent ways.

Empathy and self-love are essential for any child's well-being, but it is particularly critical for Black children who may face unique challenges growing up in a society that undervalues their worth and humanity. As a transracial adoptive parent, demonstrating that you value Black people is critical for your child's sense of belonging and identity.

You can't teach kids to empathize with people you've never taught them to value. We asked transracial adoptive parents this question.
When you don't teach children to value Black people, what shows up instead of empathy?
One person answered that when not taught to value Black people, what shows up is judgment, lack of caring, and distancing or disconnecting themselves from the community. 
Several said that without valuing the people and culture, you're left with apathy, indifference, and pity. One parent said, "fear, self-centeredness, closed-mindedness, and beliefs that everything different is wrong."
Then there was this profound comment from a parent "I also think that often people only pay lip service to the concept of empathy or see being empathetic as the end unto itself rather than a jumping off point to spur action; that is, they think that feeling empathy toward others automatically makes them good people rather than recognizing that empathy is not sufficient in and of itself but should propel change in one's a belief system, attitudes, and actions.  
As a transracial adoptive parent, you may face unique challenges demonstrating that you value Black people. But fear not; we've got you covered. Showing that you value Black people involves recognizing worth, dignity, and humanity in the people, the community, and culture.
You cannot raise a black child to accept, love, and value their black selves if you do not accept, love, and genuinely value Black people. Tolerating moments of interaction, the Black community won't cut it. Drop-offs at the edge of Black culture while you anxiously count the minutes of your return to white comfort won't do it.  
Here are five actionable ways you can demonstrate that you value Black people:
Listen to and amplify Black voices: One of the most important ways to demonstrate that you value Black people is to listen to and amplify their voices actively. Seek out and read books, articles, and other media written by Black people, follow and share content created by Black creators on social media, and actively engage in conversations with Black people about their experiences. When you value and engage in the Black community, you will find your children share the experiences of their same-race peers. Your child will have different experiences and perspectives than you; they will have questions that you have no knowledge to answer. 
Educate yourself and your family about Black history and culture: Do more than just read a few articles or watch a documentary. Dive deep into the rich and complex history and culture of Black people and use that knowledge to inform your parenting and your interactions with the Black community. Educating yourself about Black history and culture is critical in demonstrating that you value Black people. Seek a variety of resources that provide an accurate and nuanced understanding of the history, experiences, and contributions of Black people. Hear the stories in their own words. 
Support Black businesses and organizations: Put your money where your mouth is and support Black businesses and organizations. There are countless ways to invest in the Black community, from buying Black-owned products to donating to Black-led organizations. Purchase goods and services from Black-owned businesses, donate to Black-led organizations, and volunteer with community organizations that serve Black communities.
Speak out against racism and discrimination: Another way to demonstrate that you value Black people is to speak out against racism and discrimination. Challenge racist or discriminatory comments and behaviors, educate others about the harmful effects of racism, and actively advocate for policies and practices that promote racial equality.

Build authentic and respectful relationships with Black people:
 Build genuine and respectful relationships with Black people. It may seem like a no-brainer, but it's worth emphasizing.  Actively seek out and engage with Black people. 
Respect their life experiences and perspectives.  
Be open to learning and growing from their vast knowledge and life experiences.
Parents Build Relationships and Cultivate CultureBeing a transracial adoptive parent is a privilege and a responsibility. Your Black children need to see and believe that you value the community and culture of people who share their racial, cultural, and ethnic history. By actively seeking out and engaging with Black people in your community, you can build meaningful relationships based on mutual respect and understanding. When you follow these suggestions, you can demonstrate that you value Black people and communities and raise your child to be proud and have a strong sense of belonging.  
Time is of the essence. Let's get started!

Valarie Chavis
is a cultural fluency educator who helps individuals and organizations develop the skills and knowledge to understand and navigate cultural differences. With years of experience in the field, Valarie is passionate about creating inclusive and equitable communities and believes that everyone has a role to play in creating a more just and equitable society. Her work focuses on building cultural competency, creating safe spaces for dialogue, and fostering understanding and respect across cultures.

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