“Your child will throw feces on the wall and masturbate in the living room when you have guests over.”
This enticing phrase just happened to be another one of those lines our instructor used in order to make sure we were still paying attention and more importantly still interested in proceeding.
About halfway through the course work, the material began to turn to “us”, the potential parents, rather than the issues and challenges we might soon face. One of the more fascinating exercises was one designed to help us gauge how diverse our lives were.
On the table before us was an assortment of different colored beads – we were only told that yellow stood for Caucasian, black for African-American, red for Latino and green for Asian. The instructor would then ask a series of questions to which we were to respond by simply placing a bead in our cup.
Question #1: What race is the lead character in your favorite television show that you watch together?
Eric and I turned to each other in horror! Were we really going to admit this in public? And in the process of becoming certified to adopt a child no less? But we knew what we had to do and so we told the truth.
“RuPaul?” Eric whispered, his face cringing in embarrassment. “Can’t we just say Anderson Cooper?”
“But we haven’t watched Anderson Cooper in years,” I replied, racking my brain for a better answer. But for two people who rarely watch television at all, there was nothing left to do but place a black bead for RuPaul into our cup and hope for the best.
Question #2: What race is the person who cuts your hair?
Now, while we certainly have disagreements on who’s barber is better, today we could both proudly answer Latino and add two red beads to our cup.
Question #3: What ethnicity are your neighbors?
They don’t call where we live Koreatown for nothing!
As the questions carried on, we began to understand the goal of the exercise: with the high probability that we may soon have a child of a different race, it was important for us to begin to gauge how diverse – or not – our lives really were.
By the end of the exercise, our cup was filled with an array of colors –RuPaul and all — but as we surveyed the room, we noticed that this wasn’t the case for many others and in fact, there were some who had nearly solid colored cups.
There was no right or wrong in this exercise, no winners or losers– it was simply a device to help us visualize ourselves, our community and to better understand who we really are. Most importantly, it was an exercise created to make us aware that we shouldn’t use having a child of a different race from ourselves as an excuse to diversify our lives – we needed to make sure our lives were already there!
And while we were quite proud of our Benetton Mafia cup, we still managed to take two things away from this exercise: (1) we have a very diverse life and we should be proud of, and (2) we really need to branch out on our television programming!