There is a pervasive belief that for some in the black community using formal English and doing well in school is "acting white." But, wherever I read about that belief in any sort of scholarly or political article, it is 'debunked,' shown to be untrue, just an urban legend, or at least not very widespread.
Somehow, though, that IS the reality in KidThree's original community. She gets that from her peers and from some of their parents. KidThree is an intelligent girl who loves to read and her vocabulary shows it, but when she uses some of that vocabulary in talking to childhood friends, she is asked why she's using such big words. If she uses more formal English instead of the 'hood version she grew up with, she's accused of 'acting white' or 'trying to be white.' If someone calls and asks her what's she's doing and she answers, "homework," she's accused of trying to be president. This has only increased since she joined our family, as I am white, and as she has progressed through high school and then made the decision to spend a fifth year in high school so she can get an actual diploma.
It's not just KidThree, either. I started volunteering at an afterschool program in her home community about nine years ago and the attitude that doing well in school was somehow 'acting white' was a problem for our kids the entire time. It even came up in intergroup relations sometimes.
Granted, that attitude doesn't come from all community members--most of KidThree's aunties and uncles are so proud of her and her ambition and how she has rebounded from being shot and left paralyzed--but in my very unscientific experience, it is pervasive among the kids and present in some of the adults.
For the record, KidThree is not trying to be white. She loves her beautiful black self and is proud of her family and her history and her extended community. She just wants to have the best life possible for herself, to learn and grow and contribute as much as she can. Recently, though, she's decided she has had enough of people telling her she's trying to act white. She's asked me to start correcting her grammar, something I've not done to date--I've only corrected her if she used a word that really meant something else. And in ten more days, we're going to an open house at the law school here in town--KidThree has decided she really does want to try to get there. (I thank Barack and Michelle Obama so very much for this--the example they set has truly inspired my wonderful KidThree.)
That note is just to let you all know--if you read something and it seems too politically correct to be true, it just might be too politically correct to be true. Maybe the data gets skewed, or the targeted population is not going to show its true self to an outside questioner, or maybe the questioner just isn't finding the target population but instead finds one that lives right next door. My best guess would be that outside questioners are just not going to be told the truth because of their 'outsider' status, but that's just my guess.
In a related note, I do think the Bradley Effect is still present, and 'Driving While Black/Brown' really is considered a crime. (So is 'Driving While White With Your Brown Husband Next To You'--I got pulled over for that one.) Political Incorrectness is alive and well and needs to be kept in the back of our minds when we read about intergroup relations or experiences. (Even terminology can be picked at--I use the term 'black' because that is KidThree's preferred term and so the one we use at home, but I do expect that some might be annoyed that I don't routinely use African American instead.)
Change of subject: KidTwo did get the first package I sent to her, so now the package pipeline can flow freely. I have three of the flat-rate boxes all packed and ready to go; they're sitting right by the front door. I figure I can manage one a week or so. The first one to go will be the one with the most recent afghan I made for her, the one I thought was odd in her color choice but that turned out to be just lovely--she can spend the winter wrapped in her mama's love. She starts her online education in about two more weeks; I look forward to hearing how that goes. Her online journal is wonderful--she is so aware of politics and U.S.-Latin American relations and such. What a person I've helped unleash upon the world!
KidOne has free afternoons twice a week and has decided to spend them with the babies. She arrives here around three, stops to put down her purse and keys, then heads for the nearest twin. It is a wonderful way for her to unwind, and I love having the time to sit and visit. Sometimes she stays to dinner, so we get an even longer visit.
The babies have started eating solid food now. TwinOne is a little better at getting some down her throat than is TwinTwo, but TwinTwo does seem to enjoy the whole experience. This is the end of our fourth week with them and all continues to go well. I can take them grocery shopping, as we are only three blocks from a grocery store; the groceries go in the basket under their double stroller. We also go to the post office annex to check mail. Neither baby can sit unassisted yet, but they are both getting better at sitting up with some help. Their hair has started coming in over the past two weeks--TwinOne's previous fuzz was very blonde but the little bit of hair there now seems to be more of a golden brown. TwinTwo's hair is definitely brown, not blonde. We love to rub our cheeks against their fuzzy little heads and to use our fingers to try to get their tiny bit of hair to stand up. TwinOne is more easy going and smiles and laughs at just about anything. TwinTwo is more reserved; if you get a smile or laugh from her, you've earned it.
I had hoped the babies would bring solvency in October, or really, November, figuring October would be a month of digging out of our financial hole, but now it looks like November will also be a month to be digging out. Maybe solvency in December? Somehow it seems that no matter what I hope may happen, something will come up that pushes my dream of solvency further into the future. This month it was something with KidOne, but it could be any of them. And whoever heard of solvency in December? I may have to wait until 2009. I picture solvency as an anthropomorphic dollar sign running down the road, looking back over its shoulder and laughing at me as it pulls further and further ahead, sort of like the Gingerbread Man, with me as the Little Old Lady instead of the Fox.