Watch Our Family Grow

Thursday, April 06, 2006

An Open Invitation

I do not believe that I have many readers of this blog right now, but I know I have at least a few.

I want to sincerely invite anyone who reads this blog to make comments on this site. That's what the "comments" link is for. Yes, you have to set up a blogger profile but it's free and can be entirely anonymous (you can make up any sort of name/handle for yourself that you wish).

I don't want any identifying information about me made public, but I do want conversations to be public. That's the point of a blog.

With love,
the staff here at Oh!Family

Film & Race & Women

I saw a screening of a film by Lilly Rivlin last night. The subject of the film was the women's peace movement in Israel/Palestine.

My words are not, right now, enough to convey the emotions. Suffice to say that it is always powerful, for me at least, to see images of Jewish people and Arab people (both such large, large terms) and, without names or other identifying information, not be able to tell the difference.

Visit this filmmaker's website, view her work, and when you hear anything about a film called "Can You Hear Me?" devoted to this subject.....go listen.

Kol Isha. ("The Voice of a Woman.")

And yes....now I want an Arab donor. ;-)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

All Mixed Up

One thing that has surprised me about parenting -- and at this point, my journey towards parenting consists of a lot of reading and thinking and talking -- is how much it makes me think about my own childhood and background. For me, thinking about reproducing has brought up a lot of racial stuff. I am a Jew, and I find myself suddenly completely aware of the extent to which that's a racial category. I have taken to referring to myself as 200% Ashkenazi Jew. And when I think about reproducing, suddenly that matters to me. I never thought that much about whether my hypothetical children would *look* like me, but I've become incredibly aware of genetics.

Browsing donor catalogues at sperm banks often feels to me, dangerously, like an exercise in eugenics. It is possible to look for specific genetic markers; it is possible to look for specific racial/ethnic groups. In fact, it is even probable, since what else is there to go by, really, when picking a donor from a catalogue, a person you have never met and may never meet?

But that kind of process makes me deeply uncomfortable. My study of history, and my teaching of history (to middle school students) has shown me that over and over again, the desire for racial purity leads to genocide.

At this point my partner and I are considering using a known donor. But if that doesn't work out, we will pick a donor regardless of race/ethnicity; or rather, we will intentionally pick one that is in some way mixed. If my wife and I could reproduce, we would deepen the gene pool; she is Irish, Italian, Polish, and Ukrainian/Czech (not sure). We want our children to be mixed, not necessarily a mix of the two of us -- since alas that is not an option -- but whatever they are, we want to mix it up.

Soon, mama, my whole world.

It fills me with more joy than I can really express in words that I, with my little family, might be able to move the human race in that direction.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Civil Rights

I was raised by two parents who lived through, believed in, and were a part of the civil rights movement of the 1950s/1960s. I sang the songs, I walked the talk, I dreamed the dreams. I knew from a very early age that Rosa Parks wasn't just tired, she was part of a movement, she was sitting down to change the world.

But like the children I now teach, I also grew up thinking that civil rights was something that happened in the past, something that great people (including my mommy and daddy) had taken care of so that the children (me and my sister) could grow up in a world without hate, or at least *with* fair laws.

Of course, I got older, and I realized that the fight for civil rights is not over, and the road towards true tolerance and diversity and the ability to all live together and appreciate together....it's a long one.

But still, it never occurred to me until embarrassingly recently that I would have to fight for my own civil rights. As a Jew, I have a constantly evolving awareness of my own role in the dynamic equilibrium that is American cultural/racial/ethnic politics. I watch cultural/ethnic/racial/class diversity play itself out on the subway every day. But I never thought that *my* rights were an issue. Thankfully, my passport just says U.S.A. I always thought that as American Jews, my role (as my parents before me) would be as an ally, working to end the oppression of others.

But as it turns out, I am actually a member of a group that does not have the full spectrum of civil rights in the U.S.A. Not by choice. I am not sorry that I am "married" to the woman that I love, but I do not feel that I chose to love her any more than I chose to be born a female, or a Jew. And I find myself uncomfortable and even somewhat ashamed to be in a group (gay people) that is denied so much in this country. That surprises me because I do not think that any other group with civil rights problems should feel shame -- if anything, the lawmakers in this country should feel shame for not moving faster towards justice -- but there it is.

Strange stuff. The personal is political......

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Trying to keep sane as the rules keep changing
Families aren't what they were.
--Trina in "Falsettos" (part of William Finn's trilogy)

I found out today that a state near my own may actually change the laws about gay marriage. It's only a maybe, but for the first time in I-don't-remember-how-long, I have hope.

Since I was nine years old, I took it for granted that I would never have the same rights or privileges as the other members of my immediate family. Recent changes in the world have made it clear, to me at least, that if I wanted to relocate from the part of the world I have loved since childhood, I could have some more rights than I do. But that's not what I want. Is that what anybody really wants?

It never occurred to me that in my lifetime I might be able to live where I want to live and have a family just like any other family.

So checking my email today and finding out that I might, just might, be able to be who I am, where I want to be, was both one of the most personally and politically powerful gifts I have ever received.

Sometimes I get tired of being told that I am "brave" but today I don't mind it so much.