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Growing up in a white family, did you ever wish you would have grown up in a black family or feel like you were missing out?
Yes, all the time. Don’t me wrong, I love my family and i think they did good with what resources they had, but as far as culture, my own identity and sanity i certainly never felt like i belonged and always felt lost.
I also grew up in a predominantly white city so i didn’t even have a black community i could connect with, it was literally just me and other transracially adopted family members going thru the same thing till high school. So i really had and still have a hard time connecting with my family members simply because i don’t feel like i have anything in common with them, it has gotten a bit better now mainly with my mom, we actually talk about race & racism quite a bit but it still feels like we try to tiptoe around the elephant in the room that “hey guess what, you have 3 black kids in your family, we are not and never will be white”.
People always ask me if i could’ve switched, would i, and that is always a hard question for me to answer. Growing up in a black family certainly would have made my life easier and less stressful, but i think i would have also taken a considerably different path in life and would not have turned out to be the person i am today.
My birth mother gave me the name “Waykedria” but my white adoptive parents changed it to “Rebekah” because “Waykedria” was too abnormal for them and they could never spell it. They kept is as a middle name solely out of respect for my birth mother. I was also teased and called ghetto when I told people by middle name. I started to hate it, shame it, hide it and curse my birth mother for ever giving to me.
Then recently, when I decided to start looking for my birth mother, my adoptive mother gave me a letter that my birth mother wrote to me when I was a baby. In it, she explain everything not only about the adoption but also why she names me Waykedria. It was a family name that has been passed down to the first female in my grandfathers family for generations. My perspective completely changed. I started to take pride upon realizing the everything people had told me didn’t matter. Also felt so cheated and lied to that my adoptive parents just erased a whole part of my identity just to make their own lives more comfortable. So I looked good on paper. Just because your name has more letters or a different combination of letters than what society is used to, does not make you less. It does not make you ghetto, chances are your name has a meaning to it.
It is because of this that it irks me so much when transracial adoptee or international students are alway forced to change their name it something more “American” sounding. My sister from Ethiopia was forced to change her name, my 6 cousins forced to changed from “Semegn” to Sarah, from Ashenafi to “Joseph. You erase culture, you erase identities. You tell us we need to “fit in” to white culture or we won’t make it. You basically tell us that our culture and identity come second to white Americas comfort.
Truly GLORIOUS post.
This xenophobic erasure of birth identity takes place in every First World(tm) nation comprising the “receiver countries” of the adoption industry, but there’s an added level of absurdity in countries like the U.S., Canada, and Australia that have been invaded with foreigners to begin with (see The European Settlers’ Inability to Feel at Home by transracial adoptee & activist Tobias Hübinette).
so i met up with this Jewish guy i haven’t seen in like two years. we talk about his faith or lack of faith, and my non-faith. we talk about families and ancestors, culture, and history. he tells me stories of his family, how he learned hebrew, how large and connected his family is.
he asks me about my family and i say, i don’t talk to them anymore. i cut contact. i was adopted. i know my birthmom but it is rocky. my birthdad doesn’t exist.
i don’t even know his name. i just have one photo.
he looks at me. he asks me, “do you feel rootless? i mean, not only do you not know your family, you left everything behind you. do feel like you don’t have a country?”
and no one has asked me this but it has been on my heart for 2-3 years. growing. i feel rootless even though i am learning a new language. i struggle with the language because my soul isn’t in it anymore. there was nothing more i wanted than to leave america behind, but somewhere in the past 5 years immigration became a burden and not a blessing…it is always both for me.
i am safe, however i have limited resources (now changing). i am safe and loved, but i reel at the idea of having my own family. people bug me about children, because “it’s time, isn’t it?” no matter how many times i explain why i may never breed (or adopt). i want my own family, however i am afraid i would ruin it because i only know what not to do with children.
i am trying to sink my roots into the norwegian soil while living in fear of being tied down to anything.
he says, “my mother and father told me I had to decide what country i wanted to be from, to claim as my own. otherwise i would be and stay rootless.”
he speaks 6 languages fluently. he has more stamps in his passport than me and has lived in more countries than me. his parents have moved all over europe in search of a home before settling here.
my parents hopped around the us before hiding us away in the woods from all authority. i was in my 20’s before i even saw a cop car within 10 miles of our farm. we spoke only english. i feel proud because even if i only have a high school diploma, i immigrated and am doing something they never could do, and i have worked so hard to speak my heavily accented, grammatically poor norwegian.
i inhabit a half space. part norwegian, part american, part something else.
i feel my roots in the landcape of the pacific northwest US and yet in the rocks and dirt of a new land. and i still can’t settle because i am both and nothing, something, somewhere…else. something else.
my roots are shallow and i wonder when i will feel grounded.
Kate Hilpern, The Guardian (via mspreciouswilliams)
…all the while being expected to be grateful for the loss and the absence. X
I am half Korean from my single mother's side.I don't speak korean, nor I am I extremely immersed in the culture, but I do know a lot about it and lived in several Asian countries. I don't look "asian" (apparently "exotic-ish" some kids say -_-) but i have been called chink and made fun of my heritage, but it is somewhat rare when that happens. I was wondering, do I have the right to call myself a women of color? my friends (who are all poc) say i have the right to, i don't want to sound racist
Sorry for the delayed response, swear I didn’t see the notification for this… yes I agree you’re a WOC. Unless of course you actually want to disavow your Asian heritage and identify as white (lol ew).
So long as you acknowledge a certain degree of passing privilege in light of us POC who can’t pass for white under any circumstances, then all’s good. X
p.s. And to hell with any ignorant asshole who tries to deny your heritage for not fitting some weirdass “exotic” Orientalist template.
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