I could see that I was being viewed with interest. I feigned nonchalance but recognized the pattern of being recruited for friendship based on my skin tone. This day I was not in the mood for being courted for my melanin composition. The woman had a kind demeanor and as she nervously explained that the black child playing with my son was her adopted daughter, my initial irritation of being profiled was replaced with empathy.
I admire the tenacity of one mom who dryly announced, "I need an African-American female role model for my black daughter." I immediately liked her. She was straight up. She didn't know much about me but to put myself in her shoes, a single white mother whose social circle included relatively few people of color given our neighborhood, her quest was understandable. Another Caucasian mother-cum-friend, who had adopted a daughter from Ethiopia, was driving more than an hour away so that her child could meet a Black Santa. Jokingly, I had invited her to our place instead to hang out with my dad; he has a cool white beard.
Wonderful friendships for the kids and us moms alike have developed from various encounters like this. Being black with biracial kids I am fortunate to have a range of ethnicities in my personal sphere that I have not had to think about consciously creating. However, I can understand the needs of these mothers whose noble gesture on behalf of their differently-raced children is to expose them to their own culture.
They are cognizant of the obvious; that I do not bear the sole representation of my people. However, they all took a chance to initiate a connection for the benefit of their children and from it a friendship grew between us. I have felt honored to be part of a friendship based on honesty and a common desire to support the development of their children's racial self-identification.
I would like to think that if more people reached out to one another in such an honest way there would be more open communication among racial groups and potentially, a beautiful sharing of cultures leading to awareness, acceptance and just plain ole friendship.