A couple nights ago my husband and I went to a transracial adoption seminar. I took many things from that meeting. One is the fact that I am a black mother. Adopting a black child does not mean that I am now included in the "black" race. It means that I am the mother of a black child and am therefore responsible for raising the child as if I were black. This does not mean I should not raise her any differently than I would my white son. It means I have to add to my repertoire of mothering skills knowledge of things that a black child needs to grow up in a healthy way. If you watched the video of the speech given by Dr. Benjamin Carson in the previous post and in the side bar of this blog, you have more of an idea of what I mean. I have the responsibility of helping her feel comfortable with her race which may be harder for her since she is growing up in a white family and neighborhood. One major way I should do this is by teaching her about how her race contributed to the building of her country, America. I should teach her about all the black Americans not mentioned in our school's history books who played huge parts making our great country what it is today. Dr. Carson's words opened my eyes to this reality. He mentions Jan Matzeliger who invented the automatic shoe lasting machine which revolutionized the shoe industry throughout the world, Charles Brooks who invented the street sweeper, Frederick Jones who invented the refrigeration system for trucks which was later adapted for airplanes, boats, and trains. He mentions Garret Morgan who invented the traffic signal and the gas mask, Henrietta Blackberry who invented the under-water cannon which made it possible to launch torpedoes from submarines, Madame CJ Walker who invented cosmetic products for women of darker complexion and was the first female of any nationality in the nation to become a millionairess on her own efforts. He mentions Charles Drew who made contributions to blood banking and the understanding of the function of blood plasma, Daniel Hale Williams who was the first successful open heart surgeon in the world, Louis Lattimer who was Thomas Edison's right-hand man and invented the filament that made the lightbulb work for more than two or three days, who invented the electric lamp, who did pioneer work in incandescent and fluorescent lighting, and who diagramed the telephone for Alexander Graham Bell. He mentions Andrew Beard who invented the automatic railroad car couplers which spurred on the Industrial Revolution, and Elijah McCoy who invented the automatic lubricator system for locomotive engines and had so many great inventions that when something new came out people would say "Is that a McCoy?" "Is that the real McCoy?" That's where the term "the real McCoy" came from. These people and other black inventors are not mentioned in our history books. I sure don't remember learning about them. The only black history figures I remember hearing about are the ones that have to do with slavery or civil rights, like Harriet Tubman, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Rosa Parks. Teaching my child about all the other important black figures in history is part of what being a "black mother" means. I have the responsibility of teaching her what a black child growing up in America deserves and needs to know.
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