Gender Reveal: A Different Kind of Revelation

photo by Jason Leuny via unsplash.com

I've been sitting on this one.  It's the kind of post I've been both dreading and looking forward to writing.  One part anticipated catharsis, ten parts dread.
Before you judge me, let me judge you.  Here is what I anticipate based on the types of people in my Facebook friends list, alone.
*Some of you will immediately get what I'm attempting to articulate.
*Others of you will roll your eyes and not even get through this.  Or you will finish reading and have renewed fervor against folks like me.
*Hopefully, even a few of you will have a new understanding, new perspective.  It is YOU and your response I care the most about.
Listen, these words will fall where they will and be received how they will be received.  Do I hope someone will give a crap? Yes.  These are just my feelings about this particular part of my life.

GENDER REVEAL, THE FIRST TIME
I think gender reveal parties/announcements are cute. I absolutely watch them when my friends (and strangers) post them.  I even like to guess! I ALWAYS hope my friends will have multiples.  It's an exciting thing and an exciting time.   Here's how ours went with Cori Jo.  Ready?  It's super cool.  My husband thought we should do the reveal on a trip to see my parents.  I was 12 weeks along and would also take my last progesterone shot during that trip to MD. So we have our setting.  The actual reveal was my husband calling our fertility clinic, asking what they popped in me and then telling my family over breakfast.  So I got to find out with my family and he had to keep that secret for a weekend.  My mother gave me my last shot, a line of blood squirted all over the floor because my butt was all scar tissue.  I thought of it as a weird confetti celebration  to commemorate the reveal, the first trimester and the end of the hormonal support.  
A girl.  Yeah! I had flashes of hair and hair products, body image issues, talks about boys or significant others, racial issues...The truth?  A sense of relief washed over me with the word GIRL.  Why?  Because though I knew race would always be a thing (here's where the first eye roll may appear), I took and still take comfort in the fact that it may not be as pervasive in my mind and heart because she was a girl.  If you've never had this thought, good for you.  Not in a snarky way.  Seriously and honestly, good for you.   

 GENDER REVEAL, TAKE TWO
We decided on a certain number of children.  Let me pause to thank God and acknowledge my privilege in making it far enough on this (in)fertility journey that I can even talk about numbers of children.  Good for me.  I do not take this for granted.  In fact, I'm literally watching an IVF documentary right now, the process is insane!  To have IVF work for us after not-a-long-time... what an amazing thing.  My embryo is sleeping in her crib right now! 
We decided on two.  I told my husband that if he wanted a boy, this was the time to decide. And we can replace the word "decide" with word "choose."  I'm not sure how much this is talked about so I wanted to bring it up - it's one of those things that make me feel lucky, too.  We had enough embryos to choose.  How amazing is that?  I keep bringing this up because I want you to see what privilege can look like.  It's not a bad thing, it's just the hand dealt to you sometimes, and I see that.  It means some folks don't even get to this "struggle."  I get that.  I'm aware.  I don't feel bad about it.  I'm grateful.  It makes me more empathetic.

Here's where I'm going with all this.  We decided to implant a boy embryo! This is where I share part of my feelings on that.  This is where I make myself vulnerable.  This is where I may make you mad or sad or offended or, and this is my hope, enlightened. 


photo by Hipster Mum via unsplash.com
MY FEARS
Let's say we decided to do a confetti kind of reveal.  One can safely envision blue confetti pieces blasting into the air to cheers and happy tears.  In my mind, I see black confetti pieces.  No joke.  Sounds dramatic, doesn't it?  I have the same flashes of what his hair will look like, talks we will have, how he and his sister will get along, will he use my wedding ring to propose...normal things.  But right along  those thoughts are visions of him being pulled over by an officer and will I have prepared him enough so he won't be shot.  Will I ban hoodies altogether or make sure he never walks around the neighbourhood after dark?  Will his college roommate want to change rooms because he's Black/biracial? (I've fielded this request from parents myself while working in the residential life department at Mizzou, so don't tell me I'm being dramatic.  And yes, I'd be happy to find your precious White child another room to spare this Black child from your small-minded racism). Will people want to pound fists instead of shake hands (what is that nonsense about...)?  Overt and covert racism against Black men and women is very real and it makes me worry about how it will affect my children, especially my son.     

MY HOPES
I don't want to my fears to be visited upon my children.  I don't even want to raise them in such a way that this is all they think about.  No parent wants that. What I want is a healthy awareness of self and other.  I want them to choose pride in themselves over self-loathing.  I want them to be overcomers in the face of adversity.  I want them to stand up for what is right.  Speak up for themselves and others.  Take a stand against injustice and ignorance.  I want them to be bold and brave and proud of who they are.  Unashamed.  To be honest, I don't want them to be like some of you. Posting this meme or the other to make some blanket racial statement.  As if this issue can be reduced to such things.  I want them to have thoughtful answers to the sometimes inane questions people will ask (you need sunscreen...but you're from Jamaica?!? Oi, people!).  I want them to be gracious in the face of blatant or thinly veiled racial or gender jabs.  And here's the thing, they will have a different experience from me - they will be biracial.  I can't relate to that fully.  So I will have to learn from them about their experiences and act accordingly.  They will have to educate me.  See what I did there?  I'm letting the person experiencing the reality tell me how it is, not the other way around.  It's incredible how foreign this concept is to some.  

THE CHALLENGE 
Many of you have probably gleaned that I live in a predominantly White "world" (ha!).  Most of my college friends happen to be, my husband and in-laws are, where I live is, where I worked, my church, my mommy group, my FB feed...I'm not sad about it, it's mostly fine.  I have scarcely a thing to complain about on the surface.  I can hear some of you say "if you don't like it, why don't you move."  To that I say, "Do you leave a good marriage or job because you don't like every single thing?"  Then shush. 
I'm proud (and lucky) to say I have some aware and empathetic White friends.  I see you.  I hear you.  I appreciate you.  Thank you for the conversations we have in person or otherwise.  Thank you for your thoughtfulness in asking me certain things.  Thank you for not making fried chicken and watermelon jokes even though we are cool.  Thank you for talking about injustice in the world against people of colour.  Thank you for seeing things in the grey.  It is you who give me hope.  I'm counting on you to have self aware children.  Empathetic children.  I'm not above acknowledging those trying to make an effort.  And that is what I think it takes.  Effort.  Giving a crap.
I hope you respectfully call out your friends, family and old parents on their language and skewed views of people of colour.  Aren't you tired of saying, "well it was a different time then, they are set in their ways..." Lord knows I'm tired of hearing it.  I don't see them riding around in a horse and buggy and they probably have smart phones so let's update that way of thinking, too, okay? 
Church folks and Jesus lovers, can we just admit that we are not yet in heaven where all nations and tongue come together harmoniously?  Can we not always have this as our go-to sermon to address racial issues?  It's not enough.  Can we be more aware of the minorities in our congregation and not just use us in your pictures and videos to show how diverse you are?  I appreciate the effort but let's go deeper.  When will the "sanctity of life" platform include the already-born-and-then-murdered-Black-man without asking what he did and what his criminal record is first?  Can we all just be sad that somebody's somebody is dead?  And not choose our level of sadness based on if they were Black or White and all our preconceived notions of the deceased.  That's somebody's baby.  What if that baby is Muslim, or an undocumented immigrant, do we still picket and vote as passionately?   Do we select who we weep with and who we rejoice with?  I truly wonder what my Middle Eastern, brown-skinned, Jewish Jesus thinks of all this.
   
MY PART
The biggest challenge is mine.  I am not in denial about the giant log in my own eye.  How hypocritical would that be?! I have been quiet more than I have spoken up.  I am not proud of that.  I want to be even half as brave as some of my brothers and sisters with varied and sundry feelings and looks of "otherness."  I have not experienced a whip upon my back nor, not too long ago, dogs and fire hoses at my heels.  However, just like we still feel the residual (and present) effects of oppression, I want to feel that boldness. Not to reopen wounds, but to heal.  How long have I sat in silence while someone holds their arm up to mine in summer and said "Oh look, I'm almost as dark as you!" I actually hate when you do that.  Please stop it.  At best it's annoying.  At most it triggers something deep in me, because you have no clue what it's like walking around in this skin.  And that's just one, incredibly minor thing.  But I want to be bold enough to even say that.  I have children to set an example for! My days of complacency need to end. It's not about causing a stink or being divisive, as some are so quick to say, it's about living my life fully and freely so my children can do the same.  If there was ever a motivator to do better...I tell you what, it's these kids.  Surely that's something we can all agree on.  


  

Comments

  1. I come across the same fears with my son, and even daughter. I have learned that regardless, they will have to live. My dad prepared us with knowledge. Understanding that we are black, that is great, but there is a burden with it. You will have times to speak up but also times to go along. Pick your battles and always know what is right and champion for it. Never become angry with the world so you can always help others. And understand that most people are ignorant lol. honestly not knowing what is offensive or not. Educate all you meet.

    Good Post

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