April 18th, 2011
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MP900149034Recently I sat down and tried to compute the amount of exposure I had to children of color while growing up.  Below is the math behind the exposure.

AGE EXPOSURE

0-3          None

3-8          Approximately 6 hours/day for 5 years (10,950 hours)

8-18        Approximately  4-5 hrs/day for 10 years (16,425 hours)

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Over first 18 years of my life - 27,375 hours or 1140.625 days, or  3.125 years of constant 24/7 exposure.

Once I saw the numbers I was in shock.  This was the formula that allowed me access to a culture I would know nothing about without this exposure.  Looking up at this number is like sitting at the base of a mountain looking straight up trying to see the top.  It is overwhelming, and frustrating.  How do I get those of you who read my blog to get close to these numbers?  Then even more questions came flooding in.

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What is enough exposure?  Is 5 hours a week enough?  What number will tip the scales in favor of a more connected life?

Is this transracial thing really doable?  Can parents strike the right balance and give their transracial children enough exposure?  Am I asking parents to do what is simply impossible?  If a transracial family lives in an all white environment how can they possibly get the exposure their child needs?

I sat and chewed on this for several days.  Who’s to say my exposure is the right balance?  Could we get away with ½ of those numbers?  How do we do it?  I get asked that a lot by transracial parents.  After seeing the numbers I wonder if striking this balance is possible.

After several more days of chewing, an old cliche came to mind.  “How do you eat an elephant?  ONE BITE AT A TIME.”  Never attempting to raise the fork to your mouth will assure the elephant stays whole.

So where do we start?  First, we have to know where we are.  To this point, I have talked about the importance of exposing your child to their culture and I wrote about the importance of having a measurable Cultural Connection Plan(ccp). I have talked about the fact that developing those connections must be intentional, and I have explained what racial isolation is and how that can be a hellish experience for a child of color.

What is your Cultural Exposure Time(CET)?  How many hours a week do you spend in activities that expose your child of color to their culture?  Just as I broke my numbers down this will help you really understand where you are and it provides an easy measurable way to increase that exposure.

Grab the fork and let’s dig in. It is time to get to work.

One Response to “Elephant Eating 101”

  1. mommyof1 says:

    Kevin, you have yet again provide trans racial adoptive parents with a lot of food for thought! We make sure to go to the local Y for baby classes because there we are exposed to all races and most importantly our daughter sees people of her own race. I think many people are learning from your experiences and writing. Thank you so much!

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