Dear Tom Brokaw, Why Does My Family Offend You?

I watched, this morning, the comments of Tom Brokaw on yesterday’s NBC broadcast, Meet the Press. Quite frankly, I am sickened. Let me preface my thoughts by saying that I try hard not to delve deeply into politics. The state of our government, currently, is not one I care to argue with people about. I have my beliefs, I know my values. I will always do and vote in alignment with what is core and foundational within me. I can’t change anyone else.

Mr. Brokaw’s comments, however, felt like a direct punch to the gut. As I get up off of the floor and catch my breath, I know that I cannot go silently through the day. There’s too much at stake here. And, I wonder why Mr. Brokaw and so many other Americans fear families like mine. In their closed off social corners, I wonder why families like mine offend them so.

My family is built on adoption and immigration. I was a baby of dark tones who was adopted by a white American family after I was left in foster care, in the United Kingdom. I’m an immigrant to America, a naturalized citizen. Growing up, I often felt the sting of racism and bias. I’d be asked by my peers and others whether I was “black or white, or something in between.” I’ve been called many racist names over the course of my life. What I know is that I’m a proud woman of color. I have a story that is rich and full. I have a voice and I use it—not to divide but to unite, not to exclude but to include, not to force cultural assimilation but to forge deeper understanding of how beautiful and powerful diversity is.

Maybe that’s what the xenophobes fear: the power of a diverse nation. At the root of hate is the fear of losing power and control.

Brokaw said, “Also, I hear, when I push people a little harder, ‘Well, I don’t know whether I want brown grandbabies.’ I mean, that’s also a part of it. It’s the intermarriage that is going on and the cultures that are conflicting with each other.”

These words were not elevated political conversation. This was plain and blatant xenophobia: a scar on society.

Mr. Brokaw, I have brown babies. I have a daughter from Ethiopia and a biological son who is proud of his Spanish heritage. I have a son from Russia, with Muslim roots from Azerbaijan. I have two step-daughters. Our family is one of different cultures woven together. Our different cultures do not conflict with each other. We celebrate our cultures and we stand proud in who we are: one multi-cultural and united family.

The adoption community, sir, has been founded on families willing to cross borders and build bridges of love and understanding. So, as you profess your intellect over what you’ve discovered inside of your high-brow cocktail conversations, let me tell you this: there are kids—real kids—black, brown, olive, white—of all cultures and religions, who need loving homes.

There are Americans who feel afraid to openly display their beliefs and cultural practices. This is not America!

There are brown children who have been taken from their parents at our borders. There are transracial families who hold their heads up high while being stared at in the communities they call home, by people like you, Mr. Brokaw. People who would rather share hate beneath their whispers and judge what they don’t want to understand. People who are unwilling to evolve, expand, and open their hearts to what loving each other really looks like and sounds like.

People who live in their homogenous world and want to keep it that way.  People unwilling to see that this country is slipping away from its core and foundational value of “all men are created equal.” All men. All women. All children. Everyone. Created. Equal.

This country should be, like many multi-cultural and multi-racial families of adoption, one multi-cultural and multi-racial United States of America. Why would we continue to squander the gifts of diversity?

Mr. Brokaw, as a former journalist and professional who once looked to you as a pillar in the industry—that pillar has been shattered. It seems you only speak to one side of the country you’ve covered for decades.

So, today, I’m going to love and embrace my children for who they are and celebrate just how fortunate this country is to have them here, in all their diversity. Mr. Brokaw, do you not know—in your many years of journalism—just how powerful words are? Yesterday, you spoke irresponsible ones. You displayed, in a few seconds time, a deep-rooted hate for those unlike yourself. For men and women of color. For children of color.

Mr. Brokaw, why does my family offend you? Why do we make you uneasy? I really want to know.

Until then, I’ll keep celebrating the diverse and beautiful fabric of America. We, the people of color, aren’t going anywhere. Immigrants like me, we’re not leaving. No, we’re getting stronger and stronger. Louder and louder. Can you hear us?

Onward,

 

4 thoughts on “Dear Tom Brokaw, Why Does My Family Offend You?

  1. As adoptive father of two sons of Korea, my heart and sentiment is right there with you, Michelle. Thank you for these powerful words you wrote. So glad you addressed this in a thoughtful and righteous way. ❤️❤️❤️

  2. I did not hear his comments Michelle but I do hear your heart. True love is blind to skin tones and our country is better for our diversity. I’m hopeful that as we grow as a nation we will treasure our diversity for the strength it is. Thanks for speaking up.

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