My Family's Black and I'm Proud

Delta Winds cover 2010Delta Winds: A Magazine of Student Essays
A Publication of San Joaquin Delta College


My Family's Black and I'm Proud: A story of how two small souls brought some color to our lives

Amanda Zimmerman

Throughout my life I have lived in predominantly white neighborhoods and attended predominantly white schools. At my high school there were only two black people. My family was pretty much a carbon copy of the show Leave it to Beaver. My family never had a problem with people of different races; however, we always seemed to surround ourselves with mostly white people. As I was growing up, my parents never mentioned anything about race; it was never an issue. In fact the only time we spoke of it was when my parents made a few additions to our family, and with these new family members we have since become more in touch with our inner blackness.

It was six years ago when my parents decided that they wanted to make a contribution to society, so they began to foster children from inner city families in Newark, New Jersey. My parents never intended to keep any of the children, but they couldn't help themselves. As corny as it sounds, they had fallen in love with two little people. My brother, Joshua, was the first one to come home. His birth mother was a drug addict and alcoholic, and she wanted nothing to do with him. In fact the only thing she gave to him was his name. My mother and father brought him home from the hospital, and he hasn't left since. His sister-to-be, Kiannah, was not initially placed in our home; we received her when she was about two months old. Her birth mother was also a drug addict. After she gave birth to Kiannah, she left the hospital without even naming her.

My family was elated about our newest members; however, not everybody was as accepting of these new additions to our family. I remember a time when we were at my cousin's wedding and my aunt met my adopted siblings and told my mother that she should lock her bedroom door at night because when the children grew older they would probably steal her belongings or kill her. We were all shocked by her comment and haven't spoken to her since.

Another problem we run into on a more regular basis is dirty looks and unwanted comments from people of the community. I recall a time when Kiannah was 6 months old, and I took her to Wal-Mart. While I was checking out, I overheard a woman making a comment to her friend that I was a "black lover." As bad as these comments are, many other people have said the same or worse. My family continues to make light of their criticisms and not let them affect our lives.

After adopting Joshua and Kiannah, my family has made quite a turnaround. Although we still reside in a predominantly white part of town, my mother has befriended an African American family, ironically named the Whites, in hopes of giving my brother and sister more black role models. Soon after we met the White family, they helped our exceedingly white family become more in touch with our soulful selves. My parents started buying clothing for my brother and sister that was made by black designers, such as FUBU and Baby Phat. Along with a new set of threads, we also adopted a more soulful soundtrack to our lives. With the influence of the Whites, my father has downloaded rap songs by artists like Soulja Boy, Black Eyed Peas, and Lil' Wayne. Consequently, it is not uncommon to walk into our house and hear the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, shouting, "I'm black and I'm proud," a song which has become my family's anthem. Adopting Joshua and Kiannah has greatly enhanced my family, and also brought a little soul to our lives. Now rather than resembling Leave it to Beaver, we more closely resemble the 1970s sitcom Diff'rent Strokes, and I'm proud of that.