27 March 2015

The 4-way or the Roundabout …

I love a good 4-way. Everyone slows down, stops, and acknowledges those at the crossroads. At a slower pace, you can make eye contact, be polite and motion another to go ahead of you. Others become human.

When I visit the UK with my husband, I am always anxious at the roundabout. Cars whiz by, no eye contact, no recognition of drivers. My heart races, my mind wishes we would all slow down. If we do slow down, the other drivers get impatient, honk and make hand gestures. They have places to go … in a hurry. They have no time for niceties.

Today, our world in the US is the paradox of these two modes of traffic. We once loved our 4-ways when times were slower. Now, we are installing roundabouts. We want to whiz through life, cut the drive time. Just let us flow.

Starbucks and its #RaceTogether campaign made the mistake of trying to create an organic 4-way that functioned like a roundabout. The initial town halls (the prototype) were the 4-ways. Those work. We have time to sit and discuss. But in the retail cafe business, folks just need their coffee … fast. Roundabout. I love a good tea, and Starbucks is often my go-to, but during this, I took the detour.

This week, let’s reinstall the 4-way. I am attending the American Adoption Congress meeting and slowing down … stopping. The beauty of a meeting like this is that all parts of the triad are present. We have the ability to see the intersectionality up close.

In one session, an adoptee mentioned the pain of domestic, same race adoption. Strangers at a funeral were fishing for similarities in her features to her parents. Obviously, for her the amplification of her differences as an adoptee colored her interactions. The funeral brought triggers. I can see that.

Another domestic adoptee mentioned the pain of people saying there is no difference between an adopted child and a biological child in a single family. While she had been matched racially to her parents, she mentioned that she couldn’t see herself in the physical features of her parents like a biological sibling can.

All these voices are valid. Mine may not synch with theirs, but we have common threads … the pain of loss. I wish my fellow conference-goers time to slow down, reflect and respect.

P.S. Sometimes I get carried away in person; my emotions can mask my intentions. Please remind me to SLOW. DOWN.

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