I rarely encounter prejudice. I’m not naïve – I know it exists. It leads the nightly news and it clogs my social media feeds. It seems everyone is getting it but me.
Perhaps I am too caught up in my own little world to notice the ugliness around me. As a gay man and as the father of two adopted children (one who is bi-racial) you would think prejudice would be everywhere – in line at the grocery store, peeking out the windows of the houses on my street, lurking in the shadows at my children’s school.
But if it’s there, I’m not seeing it.
I suspect my inability (or unwillingness) to see it has less to do with progress and more to do with politeness. We no longer announce our prejudices with burning crosses and limp-wristed gestures. It is considered passé in these early days of the 21st century to be a card-carrying bigot. We are more subversive in our bias.
We have no problem with African Americans…as long as they don’t cause trouble. We champion women in positions of power…as long as they don’t act like a bitch. We applaud when a non-traditional family adopts a child…as long as we can pity the poor child behind closed doors.
I recently read an article titled He Doesn’t Have a Mom. It was written by some well-meaning mother of three who, in short, believes a child needs to have a mother in order to be happy. In the story the authoress details an encounter she had with a young boy in her son’s class. The boy is depicted as being emotionally needy, immediately clinging to the writer and telling her, this stranger, that he “loves her” and that she is his “best friend”.
The author learns (from another well-meaning parent) that the child does not have a mother and suddenly in a flash of privileged arrogance it all makes sense. Never mind that the author notes the child is being raised by his grandparents, two people whose actions are the very definition of parenting. Never mind that this boy has a mother, his grandmother. Never mind that 90% of this woman’s story is total fabricated bullshit.
Never mind any of this because it is too late – she has gone full Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side.
She hugs the child. She cries for the child. Her heart breaks for the child. As she reaches up for her Academy Award, she vows to pray for the child. She promises to connect with him in the years to come and (threatens?) to bring him into her home so that he may experience “family time”.
She concludes her tale by saying that the boy does have a father – no, not his grandfather, but his capital letter “F” Father – God. He “who has promised to take the place of parents for those who have been abandoned”. She hopes the boy will come to God and be redeemed because, you know, as a motherless orphan he must be godless.
Look, I’m not even going to touch the religious angle here because the author’s faith is between her and her capital letter “F” Father and if HE rewards condescension and arrogance then the author has bought herself some prime real estate in the afterlife. However, as the parent of two kids who don’t have a mother and on behalf of all the nontraditional families in the world let me just say this to the author: Blow it out your ass.
A mother is a wonderful thing, but a mother is not a parent. To be clear, a mother is defined as a woman in relation to a child to whom she has given birth. By this definition she is a womb, an incubator. She has a job for nine months and then after nine months she is either unemployed or she accepts a promotion and becomes something more, a parent.
And parents are not defined by gender or convention. Parents are not a check mark made inside a box labeled Mother or a signature above a line designated Father.
My husband and I are more than mother or father, we are parents.
We raise and nurture our children. They are happy. They are loved. Their lack of convention does not require your pity anymore than their non-traditional circumstance cries out for your self-serving prayers.
They are whole. Even without a mother.
I sometimes encounter prejudice.
I may have to look for it, but it exists.