New article on “Lost Daughters” : Rachel Dolezal and the Privilege of Racial Manipulation

This madness around #RachelDolezal has me and many other transracial adoptees and transracial families squirming and a bit angry. Please check out this article I wrote for Lost Daughters about the whole debaucle.

Transracial Lives Matter: Rachel Dolezal and the Privilege of Racial Manipulation

“The commodification of Otherness has been so successful because it is offered as a new delight, more intense, more satisfying than normal ways of doing and feeling. Within commodity culture, ethnicity becomes spice, seasoning that can liven up the dull dish that is mainstream white culture.” bell hooks — Eating the Other: Desire and Resistance

“They love our bodies, but they don’t love us.” #BlackWomensLivesMatter #SayHerName

“Everybody wanna be a nigga, but nobody wanna be a nigga.” Paul Mooney. 

I was doing my best to ignore this story. It wasn’t until one of my fellow adult adoptees alerted me to the fact that Twitter (which I use religiously, but avoided specifically the past two days) had begun to use the term “Transracial” to refer to Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who has been outed as hiding her whiteness and living as a black woman that I paid attention.  I discovered that Twitter had also begun a hashtag as a sarcastic taunt — #TransracialLivesMatter. Then, I read an article that argued that “transracial identity, is not a thing.” Um. No.

For those of you who don’t know, and clearly there are a lot of you, the term “transracial” is used in scholarly research, creative writing and cultural work to denote a particular “state of being” for people adopted across race. It also describes a kind of family unit / type of parenting. In other words, it IS a ‘thing’. It is disheartening and disconcerting to see this term used dismissively as if it does not encompass an entire population of Black, Brown, Native and Asian people across the globe. For the past 35ish years, I’ve considered myself to be a transracial adoptee. The “trans” in transracial for me, never meant my race changed. It meant I was a multiracial black girl, adopted into a white family. It meant I was taken without my consent from one home, one place of origin and put inside another family, another culture, another race, one that didn’t belong to me. It meant I had to learn how to navigate my blackness and my black girlness, inside an often times racist, religious, violent and rigid white world. It meant living in a house and community that simultaneously erased me, racialized me and tokenized me. It gave me a language to articulate what was happening to me. But you know what it didn’t do? It never actually changed my race.”

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE

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3 thoughts on “New article on “Lost Daughters” : Rachel Dolezal and the Privilege of Racial Manipulation

  1. […] Please check out this article I wrote for Lost Daughters about the whole debaucle. It wasn’t until one of my fellow adult adoptees alerted me to the fact that Twitter had begun to use the term “Transracial” to refer to Rachel Dolezal, a white woman who has been outed as hiding her whiteness and living as a black woman that I paid attention.Visit Original […]

  2. Ms. Rollins,
    Thank you for this article. It came to by way of Facebook, and I’ve been reading through your blog. I am a white adoptive mother of two Black daughters. Thankfully, my husband and I are not colorblind and I feel I’ve avoided many common transracial adoption mistakes, but I am always on the look out to avoid more. My oldest is 11, and wants to contact her birth mother. It would be complicated but we probably could locate her fairly easily. My question for you is, what age do you think is best for transracial adoptees to locate birth families? As a psychologist I’m not sure my 11-year-old is ready to cope with the circumstances leading to her adoption, and as such I’m not sure her birth mom wants to be found. Maybe you could point me to a blog post where you cover this, or contact me via email (I looked for your e-address but couldn’t find one). Thank you for your time.

  3. Hi, this message is both for Lisa Rollins and Aimee Blackham: I was born Native American and adopted by a white (Ashkenazic) family who never told me my background. I found out by anonymous letter about twenty years ago and I have not really made peace with myself, my parents, or what happened. I now, unfortunately, feel that I don’t belong to either group–but that’s for me to work on.

    For Ms. Blackham, if you haven’t read the works, both scholarly and popular, of David Brodzinsky, you might find something useful for your daughter. He wrote Being Adopted, and I found it most helpful.

    Best,

    R. Shapiro

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