Saturday, October 13, 2007

fostering fears

i have to take 30 hours of parenting classes to get certified so i can foster a child. every time i go to class i think of a new worst case scenario. last week it was, "what if she's in a gang?" as a single woman, i'm not sure if i can handle some of the possible issues like - what if she abandons her baby in my home? what if she hurts my pets? what if she hurts me?
i am the only white person in the class. there's only one man, so i almost feel a kind of kindred with him because not an opportunity to rip men apart passes by unused. the antipathy towards white people does not go spoken (until last week) so i can only feel the vibe from some people. it makes me upset, hurt, angry. but, i also feel naive for experiencing racism and prejudice for the first time by the age of 38. what if i and my neighborhood are too white for this girl? it's pretty white here. i am pretty white. i'm so white, i'm an episcopalian for crying out loud!
it reminds me of my own racism. i'm not naive enough to pretend that i hold absolutely zero racism in my heart. as the song from avenue q goes, everyone's a little bit racist.
if i foster a black teenager and her baby, will racism be removed from me? if i live in africa in my vocation and work with aids orphans, will the racism be removed?
one of my favorite gospel stories is the canaanite woman who asks christ for healing for her daughter and he says it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs. she has a quick wit and replies "Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters' table." and he tells her she has great faith and heals her daughter. to me that means that jesus learns and learns from a woman - a foreign or different woman no less. as a child i believed that jesus was perfect and always perfect. as an adult, i encounter a jesus who can learn, who can change his attitude, his prejudice. this is one of the reasons i am a christian (as opposed to say, a buddhist). jesus, son of man, has humanity, makes mistakes, but is open-hearted enough to learn and enlarge his heart. christ is a good model for me to follow.