Thank you so much Katherine Elizabeth for allowing me to share this amazing piece.
Link to original blog post http://katataksrainbow.tumblr.com/post/121566732725/transracial-lives-do-actually-matter
I am a Black woman, and I identify as transracial. Like for real transracial, no joke. I was adopted from birth by a white woman, and have struggled with my transracial identity my entire life (still do). I am absolutely mortified that right now my identity has been stolen and co-opted by the likes of Rachel Dolezal, and further infuriated that now because this silly woman is claiming it for herself that people are mocking it and claiming it “isn’t real”. My identity is being erased, my pain made to be a joke. My experience as a Black woman growing up in almost total whiteness is being discredited. Please understand, transracial is not an identity I simply picked for myself. Transracial is the identity forced upon me by other people against my consent.
A transracial identity is what happens, when white people get their hands on children of colour, but have little to no cultural awareness of their child’s culture of origin. What results is a child of colour being raised as “white”. I have a very white name, and “talk like a white girl”. White people are usually very comfortable around me as having been raised around them I am very much aware of their cultural nuances.
Now all that being said, my ass is still BLACK. My first memories of dealing with racism started very young (around 2 or 3 years of age). By age 8, I was able to process what was going on (micro and macro aggressions galore) and began speaking out against the racism I was experiencing. I used my intimate knowledge and relationship to white culture to call it the fuck out. Now despite having dealt with racism my entire life, as I got older I began to realize that there were many Black people who felt that because I had been adopted into whiteness that I wasn’t really Black, that I must be “white-washed”. My experience as a Black person was devalued as not really knowing what it was like to be Black, by Black people because of my association to whiteness.. something I might add I had no control over, and absolutely no say in.
On the other hand white people, knowing of my adopted status would quickly assume that I was one of them. But the cost of being “one of them” mentally while visibly being the “other” meant internalizing their racist bullshit and well, racism is bullshit and why the fuck would anyone choose to hate themselves just to belong? (I once got into a fight with a white co-worker who was absolutely appalled when I disagreed with him that Black males were inherently less intelligent and that was why the high school dropout rate was so high for Black males, as opposed to the reality that the system is set up to fail Black children, both male and female).
So what I was left with was that I wasn’t really Black due to a lack of present Black parents and family, but I could never ever ever really be white either. Identity is a struggle for all adoptees, but especially so for transracial adoptees.
I am a Black woman, but there are Black people who will say that I don’t really get what it is to be Black. Which I believe to be untrue, but I do have a certain amount of undeniable privilege which came with being raised in a white family. White people are more likely to listen to me. They are more likely to accept me over a Black person who wasn’t transracially adopted. Sometimes I feel like an undercover agent when I’m around white people because of their comfort level around me, they are very quick to reveal their racist selves. And you best believe I use that to my advantage in any way I can to level the playing field.
I have come to the conclusion, that at its worst, transracial adoption is faintly veiled modern indentured servitude. I struggled a lot to reclaim my Black identity and undo the conditioning I received as a child and make the best out of an incredibly shitty situation.
Anyone who has followed my blog for awhile knows that I don’t do this. I don’t post long winded essays about anything ever, for the most part I take shit in, reblog, and keep my mouth shut. Part of this is learned behaviour from growing up adopted and learning from a young age that one isn’t supposed to talk about things which are “taboo”. But this whole Rachel Dolezal scandal, and the transracial mockery fallout has really just broken my heart, because I have fought too hard and for too long to let some foolish white woman take away my identity. Understand one can not simply choose to be transracial, it is just a fact of their life. If I could I would trade my Black transracial identity for a regular Black identity any day of the week, because what a transracial identity means for a POC is loss. Loss of family, loss of culture, loss of land of origin, and the irritating expectation that adoptees are somehow forever to be “grateful” for being “saved”.
So to Rachel Dolezal, please shut the fuck up.
signed, an actual Black transracial woman.
Elizabeth, K. 2015. “Transracial Lives Do Actually Matter…”. Retrieved from http://katataksrainbow.tumblr.com/post/121566732725/transracial-lives-do-actually-matter