Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Inter-racial Adoption

I've been reading a lot of books about race and adoption. One book that was especially informative was In Their Own Voices, by Rita James Simon and Rhonda M. Roorda. Each chapter consists of an interview with an adult (usually black or bi-racial) who was adopted interracially (mostly in the 1970s).

Virtually all of the adoptees speak positively of their experience. But the thing that concerned me was that almost every single one of them mentioned that they had faced criticism from other blacks for "acting white," "talking white," "being white," or just for having white parents.

There's no guarantee that my son will ever face these sorts of comments, of course.  Still, the book interviewed adoptees from all over the country, indicating that the "you're too white" criticism might be fairly widespread.  This bothers me, but I don't suppose there's anything I can do other than tell Jonathan (if the need ever arises) to ignore any such comments.


Blogger Tim McNabb said...

The "You're acting White" thing is a bitter aspect of black culture. I have two friends from high school who were smart, kind, and often loquacious. That they were black invited much criticism from their black peers.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of my best friends growing up was a mixed race adoptee. He had it pretty hard- he acted out and was eventually sent to military school (Valley Forge-the one from Catcher in the Rye and the movie "Taps")

I'm no psychologist but I always thought he had a bad deal- he was the only adoptee out of 5 kids. They were a pretty uptight,blueblood lot- I think he just stood out too much.

That said, he is probably doing fine now (fingers crossed).

5:09 PM  
Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

He's more likely to get it for wanting to do well in school or being interested in intellectual issues for their own sake than he would for how he speaks, though that's sometimes part of it too. It's the sense that he must think better of himself for having white parents that probably will draw this out, which shows a real inferiority complex still in the black community. It says more about the person saying it than it does about the person it's being said about. If people in your situation can teach their children to understand that and to reach out in that understanding, perhaps there's hope for change.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shall we consider Barack Obama? Born of a Kenyan who knocked up his teenage white girlfriend, went off to college and never came back, Barack has been raised by white folks, specifically, an elderly white couple from Kansas. Picture Dorothy's parents or Ma and Pa Clark.

So how did he turn out after this backward, isolated white experience? As a Harvard Law student he was a standout. He never had a chip on his shoulder, and acted as white as they come. No backslapping brother-speak, no pimp stroll, not Obama.

And I guarantee this, folks, when he made it as President of the Law Review he did it all on his own. There were gifted New York Jews at HLS that year from the toniest pivate schools who would have defenestrated their blind, crippled grannies for that job.

What's the answer? (1) have a white parent, (2) get raised by elderly white folks (from Kansas), and (3) do what they say.

4:08 PM  

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