I would never have a mixed race child. I have always thought that the children of interracial unions looked strange, and now I firmly believe that to bring such offspring into the world is harmful to the child. You can do it if you want, but I never would. Biracial children don’t truly have a racial identity. They don’t have a real sense of belonging anywhere and pretty much have to choose whether to call themselves one race or another, though these days they usually just go with multiracial or biracial or mixed. During the Jim Crow years when the ‘One Drop Rule’ held sway, the offspring of Black/White unions were always considered Black. Kids who are mixed race don’t fit in and usually go through an identity crisis which leads them to choosing one race over the other, just to have a group to belong to.
Recent shifts in how people view race and racial heritage reveal that the more affluent interracial couples are, the more likely the offspring are to call themselves ‘White’. This is just as likely whether the child is part-Black, part-White, or has parents who are White and Asian. (I don’t consider couples where one parent is Hispanic interracial, unless that parent is clearly White or Black, because the term Hispanic denotes one’s ethnic background, not racial.) According to the Time article I just read, among children of black-white unions, 76% of the female freshmen defined themselves as multi-racial. Only 64% of male freshmen from the same background did. A similar pattern held true for children of Latino-white unions, with 40% of females defining themselves as multi-racial, but only 32% of guys, and for children of Asian-white unions, with 56% of females, and only 50% of males.
Non-Black women with mixed race children whose hair is even slightly kinky just don’t have a clue how to dress those curly tresses. This goes for non-Black people who adopt Black children, which I do not agree with either. Black children should be adopted by Black parents, and while I realize that this cannot always be so, adoption agencies should make more of an effort to place Black or part-Black children with Black parents or mixed race couples, at least. Same for Asian children – they should not be placed with White couples no matter how badly the couple wants a child. Race should be given strong consideration as far as adoption and even fostering children.
“Parents who believe they can raise their child color-blind are making a terrible mistake,” says Korean adoptee Mark Hagland, a 54-year-old journalist and adoption literacy advocate. “And it’s shocking how many people I meet still think this way. If there’s a single thing I can share with white adoptive parents [it’s to] look at the adult adoptees who have committed suicide, or who have substance abuse problems. Love was not enough for them.”
Non-White children who are raised in White households tend to have a Eurocentric mentality. They become so comfortable in their White worlds that when they go out on their own or encounter racial prejudice, they are bushwhacked by the incident.
Abigail Scott says she never told herself that she wanted to be white, but always felt atypically Chinese. She was a muscular lacrosse player who loved being tan. She told her mother never to buy her anything Hello Kitty. She’s only attracted to white boys and the majority of her friends were white. When she and her mother went to large family functions, Scott remembers noticing that everyone else in the room was white except her. “But they were all family so I didn’t feel ostracized or different,” she says. At one of her first fraternity parties, a drunk white boy sidled up to her and asked her about her foreign exchange program. People assumed she wasn’t American, that she was a nerd, that her only concern was math homework – and Scott tumbled into a depression. “Maybe it was my insecurities,” she says. “I’m not positive everyone thought I was weird for being Asian, or wasn’t cool for not being blonde, but I couldn’t have been imagining all of it. I’d never felt so Chinese. It was the first time it became apparent to me that I’m a certain race and people have expectations around that.”
Alex Landau, a 25-year-old from Denver, remembers his first racial encounter. He was four years old, an African-American boy scuffling with a white boy on a Denver playground. “And he said ‘Not all white kids like to play with black kids,’” remembers Landau. “I didn’t know the gravity of what he was saying, and I don’t think he even fully knew what he was saying. But I just knew that my skin was different and I had no control over that.” As Landau struggled to make sense of his hurt, he remembers his white adoptive mother Patsy Hathaway careening into the picture. “My mom came out of left field, grabbed him by the arm, and said ‘You don’t talk to my son that way. You need to leave!’ and kicked him out of a public park.”
Chad Goller-Sojourner’s parents sent him to a diverse school in a Seattle suburb up until the fifth grade when they were denied their transfer waiver and he went to a new school where he was one of two black kids of color in the fifth grade. “From day one I was racially attacked and that continued for years,” he says. “It only takes one or two people calling you a ‘nigger’ to stick. The difference is that when a black person is called a racially charged name, they go home and get the love and support from parents who look like them. I went home and got that same love from people who looked just like my tormentors. This was the beginning of trying to figure white people out. Who are the good ones? Who are the bad ones? How do I know?” Growing up, he was surrounded by white culture. His parents listened to Lawrence Welk during dinner. His mother watched Masterpiece Theater and All My Children. They vacationed in Montana. He doesn’t remember a black person ever being invited into his house.
“What happens when a black kid only has a white identity and then goes out into the world?” he asks. Goller-Sojourner developed tricks for attaching himself to his parents’ whiteness. In stores he would yell out “Hey Mom, can I get this?” when he got sick of feeling watched and followed. When he left for college, he stuck a wallet-sized photo of his Norwegian-American parents behind his ID so cops would see the picture when he was asked to pull out his license on bogus traffic stops. “I’m not the black person you think I am,” he remembers wanting to assert. “I wanted people to know that up front because, one, I didn’t want to die, and, two, this is a weird thing, but transracial adoptees want to put white people at ease.” It was only when Goller-Sojourner transferred to New York City’s Hunter College that he painfully started building for himself an authentic racial identity. “It was the first time I found my reflection pleasing and I found it reflected back to me in a lot of different ways,” he says. “I was never the only black person in a room again.”