Sunday, January 27, 2008

Transracial Adoption -- What's Your Preference?

Get ready for an eye-opening experience.
Project Implicit has created a series of Assessments to evaluate whether or not one has a preference for one race, culture, skin-tone, or religion over another. It is really interesting in the way that you move the through the online assessment. You get your results immediately.

FROM THE SITE: Psychologists understand that people may not say what's on their minds either because they are unwilling or because they are unable to do so. The IAT measures implicit attitudes and beliefs that people are either unwilling or unable to report.


Katy said...

Very interesting. I came across these tests through another blog a month or two ago, at which time I was informed that I had a slight preference for African Americans over European Americans. Today, apparently, I have a moderate preference for European Americans. Guess I'll have to check back again soon and see how my latent biases are doing. Gotta go back and take some more tests now!

Holly said...

This was SO frustrating for me!
This test says I have a "strong preference" for "white" over "black"!
Now I am thinking, "Oh no! Lord, do I really? Please help me!" I know that I have been CALLED to adopt from Africa and now I am wondering if I am just going to ruin the lives of our future children because this test says I prefer white people!? We have 2 bio. kids and added our second son, our sweet 2 yr.old from China this summer. God is truly making our family a wonderful reflection of His glory! I have read several books so far and we haven't even had our first home study meeting yet. I guess I am just going to have to REMAIN open with a teachable spirit. Thanks for posting this. I truly would have said that of course I have no preference. Holly

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Holly, I don't think that having a preference is a problem. I think that pretending that there is no preference and that masses of people do not have a preference is what hurts the kids. The children will come to you with real feelings of being treated differently or of feeling differently. If you hang on to the notion that people don't have preferences then that means that the children are the one's that have it wrong. That to me is where the danger comes in. Not being able to fully support the kids because you do not believe that their is real preference that can affect them at school, with friends, in college, and on the job.

Holly said...

You're right Valerie. I just don't WANT to have a preference. I have wondered if that test is wrong, but I took it for the religious preference and it really was pretty spot on and I also took the Asian American/European American one and it was pretty right as well. I think that having an Asian son has (obviously)changed my entire view in that regard! Just last night I got into a debate with someone discussing our family adding children from Ethiopia. He didn't feel that we need to do any further research regarding race because, "we are all God's children, so stop trying to make a deal out of it and ignore the race thing." My response startled the group. I told him that it was easy for him to "ignore race" as he was a young white male who had likely never been discriminated against, nor was he considering adding children to his family from another culture and race. He told me I was putting too much emphasis on difference and I told him that was NOT my intention, but the world WILL see the difference, so it is foolish for us not to address that and know how to equip ALL of our children, caucasian, Asian and African how to be proud of their heritage and still feel a part of our family. What I have learned so far is that I still have a LOT to learn! I enjoy your blog- informative and powerful. Thanks for being open.

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Holly, I think that you gave such a great and powerful response. Thank you for doing the work that you are doing and being open enough to put it out there.

Sharon said...

I always find these test interesting. My results consistently show that I have a slight preference for people of African descent/darker skin tone. I am not of African descent and my skin tone couldn't be any paler unless I was a ghost. I wonder if this bias is because of my children who were adopted from Ethiopia, or if I choose to adopt from Ethiopia because of this slight bias. Guess I will never know!

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Sharon that is interesting. It may simply mean that you have that preference. I know that I prefer dark skin as in darker AA's but I am not biased against other skin tones. I've had that preference every since I can remember and mine may be from being made fun of for feeling dark or it may be from just liking my own skin color.

Justin said...

Hi Valerie,

I tend to be dubious about such tests because of the many factors that can go into determining our responses. Does it matter that I'm left-handed, a fast typer, skeptical of tests like these, and an academic? I'm white, grew up in a fairly segregated part of New Jersey, and have been as inundated with American popular culture images of race as anyone. All these would suggest to me that my automatic response (what the test is seeking) should indicate some automatic preference for whites. The key word here is automatic--our gut reaction, before we insert our learned efforts to expand our view of the world, to fight against racism, to treat people as equals, to treat people with respect.

And yet, my test indicated that I have a "strong automatic preference for Blacks." That puts me in a group of just 2% of web respondents. So how should I understand my score? While I would be happy to believe that I have no particular automatic preferences, I know this is not true. Moreover, the words used in the test as so elemental: anger, hate, evil; joy, pleasure, good. This is the language of instinct, of what we can choose to ignore, but comes from the most animal part of our brains. So did I game the test? Or is this preference true? And if so, how does it express itself?

We can't ignore race, because even though we are all humans, our societies have decided to separate the world in races and live like they matter. To pretend to our children that this is not the case leaves them vulnerable and unprepared for the world of racism. It is unfortunate the whites aren't prepared for this either and are essentially taught that they are without race--that race is something about other people, not them.

I am just about to adopt a baby boy from Ethiopia, and so I will be dealing with a triple set of issues--raising a black child to live in this country and world, being a white parent to a black child, and being an adoptive parents. There are no easy answer to these issues. Complete and absolute love, and honesty and respect, seem like good places to start. We will teach our son to love himself, to know his history and his past, but also to create his own path as he becomes a man.

Related to this, I have found lots of interesting advice and challenges in Marguerite Wright's book I'm Chocolate, You're Vanilla: Raising Healthy Black and Biracial Children in a Race-Conscious World.

Anyway, good luck on your adventure. My wife and I are just finishing the first and easiest part (the adoption--although it feels like forever when you're in the process) and are just beginning the hardest and most wonderful part (raising our son).

VALARIE - Single, Ethiopian-bound, mother-to-be of two bright-eyed Ethio children. said...

Justin, I'm not really sure how it works either. Here is a link that explains more of the study.

My results showed that I had no preference between white and black and moderate preference for dark skin. I'd say my results were pretty accurate but I think you made some good points.

Thanks for the well wishes! Good luck to you and your wife as well.

Original Court Date: April 18, 2009
Final Court Date: May 18, 2009
[607 total days & 165 days w/IAN]