Reason 10. Choosing to confer visibility. Many white adoptive parents assert that their children of color are are “just regular kids.” They forget about their color. They just see their sons and daughters.
No such exemptions are parceled out to adults of color or children of color with parents of color. They do not have the luxury of being seen as “just regular people.” In fact, sometimes they just aren’t seen at all.
One woman wrote as follows:
I was thinking about this last night after attending a multiracial family event. Multiracial in that most of the parents were white, all of the kids except my own, Black. I was typically excluded. The only white person who spoke to me was my social worker. The only other adult who spoke with me was the only other adult person of color there. The white moms were so damn chatty with each other. Typical stuff. But it made me wonder, when their kids are grown aren’t they going to notice the walls their parents build up around other people of color?? Maybe their kids already notice it.
I’ve heard enough stories from adults of color about treatment by white transracial adoptive parents to know that this is the rule rather than the exception. I’ve had several encounters with white adoptive parents. Some were just plain weird. One white woman kept pulling her child closer and closer to her in the elevator; all I had said to her was “Hi, nice day, huh?” And one in particular was hostile and violent. The whole time all I could think of was those little faces staring at me.
Visibility is dependent on context. Once I attended a cultural event and was seated near two white women. At one point I needed to leave my seat and I rose to exit, only to find that they would not look at me or move. When I said, “Excuse me, may I please go through?” they both sighed. Neither stood. One slightly angled her knees. The other did not move at all. This made it somewhat difficult to get out, as I was carrying a baby at the time. They were equally unpleasant when I returned.
Not two weeks later I went to a dinner that had been organized by a white friend. Guess who was seated next to me? Guess who was an adoptive parent? Guess who was really friendly? Guess who didn’t remember me? Suddenly, I became visible. Suddenly, I became a person.
I know that children notice it too. Paula from Anti-Racist Parent writes as follows:
Sadly, I eventually found myself becoming accustomed to the fact that many people’s reactions towards me would undergo a radical transformation as soon as they found out I was the daughter of white parents. Miraculously, once in the presence of my white mother or white father, I somehow became immediately visible and worthy of other’s attention.
Under the umbrella of privilege, kids of color are visible and worthy. And the other kids of color with white adoptive parents are okay, but those other people–well, they are not. So be careful not to be like those other people. Or maybe nobody will like you any more. Don’t mention your color and maybe nobody will notice.
What happens without that umbrella? Guess it’s going to pour.