On January 10, 2019, Jenni White, an adoptive mother of 2 African daughters from Oklahoma, wrote this article, setting off a trail of outrage in the transracial adoptive & Black communities.
As an adoptive mother to a Black girl, I took the advice not to read the article at first, because the clicks on the link only serve to spread the absolute ignorance of its content. After the outrage did not subside, however, I decided to read the article.
I am compelled to respond.
Dear Jenni White,
From one adoptive mother of a Black child to another: You are everything that people admonish about transracial adoption.
You used your article to impress upon your readers how you rescued 2 Black children from their sad lives in Africa to give them the American Dream, out of your deep sense of Christian charity, and that you have since used your religious and political beliefs to strip them of their African identities. You all but denied slavery, and you bounced between calling your Black, African-American daughters “human” & “American” – denying their reality of being Black and African and treating American and human as synonymous and superior.
But I’m getting ahead of myself..
Your article’s title “The Worst Racism My Children Have Experienced Came From Black Peers” was quite a hook. When you stood on the back of the recent suicide of 9-year-old McKenzie Adams (a fourth-grader who hung herself after being bullied by her peers at a predominately white school) to wax poetic about how glad you are that you stripped your African daughters of their identities when they landed in America, I knew I was in for a ride, in a bad way. In doing so, you mused, you gave them the ability to “shrug off racism”. Did you though? Did you really? You’ve deliberately sheltered your kids from knowing themselves and the world in which they exist, so time will tell.
I wonder how McKenzie’s family feels about the fact about that you wrote an entire article bragging that your children are alive and well because they don’t think they’re Black.
Are your children actually stronger without their identity, or are they following the think-speak (you really loved using that 1984/Extreme Right-wing rhetoric throughout) that you have forced upon them based on your own racist, conservative-“Christian” ignorance? I suggest you get your head out of your severely limited ideologies and join reality, starting with a dictionary.
race. 2. noun. a group of people of common ancestry, distinguished from others by physical characteristics, such as hair type, colour of eyes and skin, stature, etc. -dictionary.com You’re welcome.
You tout devotion to the Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., but you compartmentalized the point of Black and white children being One from everything else that MLK said, did and stood for. He died standing up for equality that is still lacking severely – to put it mildly – 51 years later.
To say that you “don’t see color” is impossible and absurd. To impose this “rule” upon your African-born children is insulting. The ideal society that MLK strived for has not yet been achieved, and there is still much to be done to achieve it. Achieving equality does not require any Person of Color to deny their identity and assimilate – on the contrary, it demands that society acknowledge and embrace our differences. As Dr. King stated, “We are now confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.”
Among a disturbing litany of insults hurled at liberal America & the members of the Black community who believe that there is The Black Experience in America, you described your first experience with internal racism as your former pastor advising you to help your kids understand, preserve and be proud of their Black identities, since they had just arrived from Africa. I have news for you: That is not racism. You aren’t Black. Like all of us who have adopted transracially, you’re not having your child’s experience. But nice try. That is called adoptive parent sensitivity, and that means you’re making this about you, which it is not.
In lecturing your audience about respecting differences when you won’t even acknowledge them, you slammed everyone who doesn’t think like you, effectively holding them responsible (in your mind) for the problem of some “myths of racism in America”. You missed the mark completely, Ms. White. You got it completely backwards, in the opinion of the thousands of outraged people who responded.
Your kids did not “become American” while the rest just went away – “American” was added to their identity because you went and picked them up from Africa and brought them here and attached it to them. One returned to Africa, for God’s sake! She obviously remains tied to that identity despite your attempt to shut it out of her. Of course they aren’t going to come to you with more than a shrug; I wouldn’t either.
Let’s talk about the subheading “Racism Isn’t Okay If You’re Black”. Madam, racism isn’t okay, no matter who you are. There is no “Worse racism”, because it is all deplorable. And it is notable that you cite nothing of the racism of white people against Black for your audience. As you sermonize the values of your own supremacy, you admonished the history of Africans and slavery as having been altered for the worse. I beg you to cite your sources that diminish the horrors of Black history, because Mel Gibson denying the Holocaust immediately came to mind as I read the nonsense on the page.
You used the words “celebrate differences”, as well as instilling “kindness” and “humility” in your kids, but you did the opposite here. Instead, you produced a piece which perpetuates stereotypes, calls the Black community racist, and you further marginalized transracial adoptive parents as identity-stripping ignorants. You exploited a child’s tragic suicide when what you had to say had nothing to do with her experience, except to say that since your kids don’t identify as Black, they haven’t killed themselves and you got to write a rambling pat on the back about it. Stop using other people’s tragedy to expand your conservative agenda. It only served to make you appear racist.
Lola Shahdadi, Writer/Blogger.