One of my earliest memories is asking my parents why I was the only one if my family with brown skin. I was probably around 5 or 6, and they sat me down and explain that I was adopted. I remember being confused, scared, a little disgusted that I was different and didn’t fit in with everyone else, my own family. Why was I the only one who looked different? Was there something wrong with me? Why did no one talk about it? Is it my fault? Is it bad to be my color? As an adult, I know the answers to these things, but as a child, I did not know what race and racism was. So here I am trying to figure out why I am different and why it’s so taboo to talk about it. It made me feel excluded from my family. We didn’t talk about race, we didn’t celebrate blackness, black holidays, black history, nothing but we so passionately celebrated my white family’s Scottish and danish heritage. Why the rest of the world looked at me and treated me different than the rest of my family. It was something I had to learn on my own. My family isn’t racist and I don’t even believe that they even had bad intentions, but this is why we need to talk about it. A lot of these issues come down to the fact that parents simply don’t think about race as an issue and the children do. We’re people of color from the day we get shoved out a vagina and so our experience as a brown person in America begins.
As adoptees, especially children, we don’t know who to go to, to help process these emotions. As white parents, the thought of race and racism doesn’t cross your mind 99% of the time because you’ve had the privilege of never having to worry about the color of your skin. Parents and the kids are on two different wavelengths that aren’t crossing paths. In order to truly embrace your children of color, you have to love and celebrate who they are too, which includes their skin color. By pretending color doesn’t exist, you erase us. My dark skin shouldn’t be demonized. Why should it be taboo to talk about? Why can’t my black skin, and black heritage be celebrated with my own damn family too? You have to make your family multicultural. Celebrate the Danish and the Black Don’t get me wrong, I love my Grandma’s Swedish meatballs and Ebelskivers party’s but I am not Danish and I do not feel close to the danish culture and I have never connected with it. I can celebrate along with my family because I love them, but that exchange of love surrounding identity and who we are should also be exchanged with your non-white children.
One of two things happen when you choose to ignore the race of your children:
1. We grow up and learn about your history, people and culture on our own and resent our parents for never really accepting us for who we are. For never showing us that we’re not alone in this world.
2. We grow up learning to hate ourselves and the skin we are in. Wishing we had white skin or simply pretending we do. Hating our culture, hating other black people because essentially that is the attitude you have taught us all our lives. Ignore skin color, even when the rest of the world doesn’t and will still treat your like a black person. Either way you slice it, there’s not a happy ending to ignoring the race of an adopted children.
I say all that to say, being different isn’t bad. My skin color isn’t bad, my beautiful dark chocolaty ass skin isn’t a problem. Racism happens when you act like my skin is a problem. That includes parents pretending that they don’t have non white kids. We’re not white, and that is okay. Race isn’t a bad word. Educate yourself and have a dialogue. It is 2017, this race thing isn’t new, it’s not going anywhere. The internet is accessible, google is free. There are no excuses. It’s time to pull your head out your ass and realize that we ain’t all white and that’s alright? It’s 2017, grow up. race isn’t going anywhere. My skin color isn’t changing, racism didn’t leave with MLK, it’s here and as people of color, we are fighting it all our lives. We have to start talking about the transracial adoption experience in order to move forward with unity and equality.