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.
“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.”