When I first arrived in Uganda, I witnessed a lot of white families with Ugandan children on their hips or by their sides, aimlessly tagging along. I would see such instances during my U.S. Embassy visits, most local spots or even at the markets. My initial thought was to frown at the scenario in sheer pity for the child who has to deal with white parents who may not be able to properly raise them. When I see the duo or sometimes trio, its definite that they are not products of mixed race marriages but more so through some pre-arranged, adoption arrangement.
Now, I’m all for children having better economical, social and educational advantages, especially for those children who come from orphanages or poverty-stricken areas, however, are they really at an advantage because they are being raised by white families? Personally, I feel that although families, regardless of their race, have the right to adopt, I feel that more consideration should be applied when ensuring that the child continuously has a direct linkage to their original, African roots through various levels of exposure such as personal experience, children’s literature, positive images of successful people of color, cultural references and immediate family connections.
Often times, I see these white families adopting the local Ugandan children for some tax write off, a charity initiative, or because of the “Let’s save the African children” mentality. Often times, they fail to allow that child to have a direct connection with their African heritage not directly per say but more from the standpoint of thinking it’s a non-relevant factor. This, my friends, is very far from the truth.
These children need to be consistently exposed to values, traditions and other children who look like them. The whites that I see here in Uganda are usually in a warped bubble that is still stuck in a colonization mentality. Then, you have the others who come for missions, job posts and spousal support who actually identify with their geographical location with intentions to be purposeful by trying to mend ties between African and European relations through various philanthropic, outreach and community development efforts.
From a practitioners standpoint, children’s mental and emotional stability cultivates daily so it’s advantageous to allow children to identify with their African heritage so that they can have a better appreciation, acknowledgement and love for self. They shouldn’t be limited to solely identifying with these white families nor should they be taught to feel inferior to them because the world does a good job of that already.
So often, whites are looked at as being supreme, especially by Ugandans who still feel they are in control. It’s sad because this mentality, both on the part of whites and non-educated or socially conscious Ugandans, only confuses the child’s perception of truth leaving them with insecurities and self-identity issues because both parties are limited based on experience.
It’s disheartening to say the least, especially when it comes to adoption situations. A lot of times, these parents who adopt, don’t have a significant amount of prior knowledge of how to raise a black child other than what they are exposed to from the media, textbooks and limited and indirect experiences. Therefore, they prematurely proceed under the agenda that the child is needy and requires a good home, food and proper upbringing, totally disregarding the emotional and mental stability of the child from the standpoint of race and self-identity. This rudimentary approach eventually leaves the child at more of a disadvantage because the value of that child’s life is not taken into consideration in the context of maintaining an adequate cultural connection.
I understand that white families feel the need to adopt African children for various reasons. If this is the case, I strongly feel that more investigation needs to be considered on behalf of the legal counsel responsible. Our African youth needed guidance, reassurance and encouragement.
Can all of those needs be provided from a white family who has a totally different philosophy toward values, morals and believes? What initiatives or programs are in place to keep their adoptive children engaged to their original roots?
There is a starkly similar case that I dealt with recently regarding a child in my classroom who is of Russian and Ugandan mixed race. Her father, who is Russian, talks to me quite often about a variety of topics including race relations, African-Americans and European standards. Quite interesting. Watch my latest You Tube video commentary about it.
So the other day, he asked me about a field trip that we had scheduled to one of the local Ugandan schools. His approach and questioning were totally obnoxious from the beginning Are these black children at the school? I don’t want her around those black children because Ugandans are stupid.
These ignorant comments threw me for a loop as I didn’t know how to respond to this level of ignorance. How are you on the continent and hate Africans? Better yet, why are you surviving here with that mentality? I told him as I would a good friend who may have lost their mind: This girl needs to be around her Ugandan roots regardless. Hell, kids of privilege need to see what life is like on the other side and be exposed to such disparities as a way to appreciate their life and learn to have compassion for others. I told him to stop limiting her access to her Ugandan roots. She can identify more with Ugandan roots than Russian because of her brown skin, kinky hair and African features. He further explained that he plans on relocating to Russia because he hates Africa and Africans. I thought again, how are you instilling any values in your mixed race child about her self-identity? I told him blatantly: You are teaching her to hate apart of herself due to your unfortunate experiences and ignorance.
It’s my believe that some whites come here to regain whatever power they think they’ve lost by trying to enforce control into everything they do. With a little prodding, he eventually gave permission for his daughter to attend which turned into a very insightful experience for her. She was able to share so many wonderful ideas about her visit at the school and how she could better help the students. By the way, I had all my students write a reflection on their experiences at the school. I found that it was refreshing to see that they all found some similarities and differences and developed thoughtful ways on how they could contribute to the overall well-being of the school. More on that in another blog post.
In this globalized and ever-changing society, it’s inevitable that mixed race children and white adoptions will ensue, however, more thought and consideration should be put forth prior to these arrangements. If the adoptions will continue, let’s engage more responsibly by exposing these said children to their African culture, heritage and roots as they need to have a place of belonging and identity in a world that deems them less than average. If this is not the case, then the question becomes whether or not this is purposeful. What can be done about this? I am not extending this as a hate message but more as a concern to the welfare of our African and mixed race children from the Americans or the continent.
That is the same for the Africans who decide to intermix: It is your responsibility to make sure your children know who they are even if you’re too proud of it. We need to stop trying to control and start educating and preparing our future generations for the societal issues that they will face. A good friend recently posed a question to me: are Africans and whites integrating to purposely attempt to diminish the effects of the African race? Is it intentional that lighter skinned children with less defined textured hair are more accepted in a society? NO! Proudly, they are considered black, hunny!
Until next time, be blessed and highly favored.