Then, where I sit changed, dramatically. I just didn’t know it at the time. I went from being the father of two white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed kids to the father of three kids—one of them a beautiful little girl from Ethiopia. When Naomi arrived, our experiences changed. Strange incidents started to happen.
There was the white woman who demanded that Naomi—the only black girl in our neighborhood pool—point out her parents, in spite of the fact that she was clearly wearing the colored bracelet showing she was permitted to swim.
There was the time a police officer approached her at a department store and questioned her about who she was with and what she was shopping for. That never happened to my oldest daughter.
There was the classmate who told Naomi that she couldn’t come to our house for a play date because, “My dad says it’s dangerous to go black people’s neighborhoods.”
I could go on, and—sure—some of the incidents could have a benign explanation, but as they multiplied, and it was clear that Naomi’s experience was clearly different from her siblings, it became increasingly implausible that all the explanations were benign.