I was invited to speak at PACT family camp by Malaika Parker, an African American adoptive parent, who works to support the adoptive parents of color who are connected with Pact, An Adoption Alliance. While I was excited to support the nearly 150 Black children who attend the camp, when I found out that 75% of the parents who come to Pact Family Camp have adopted transracially–meaning the parents are white, I was uneasy about it. I had read the many articles on the disproportionate number of Black children fosterees and adoptees, and also about the challenges/problems of Black children being adopted by white folks (article links below); however, I decided to show up for Black children. In a commitment to their liberation, I worked with 125 white adoptive parents on how to risk their white privilege and challenge white supremacy, for all children of color.
Being that there would be so many Black children playing together, having deep conversations about race, social justice, coupled with some fun outdoor adventure (zip-lining through the redwoods and jet skiing on Lake Tahoe), I decided it would be a good space for my 10 year old son, so I brought him along.
Arriving on our first day at the camp, I intentionally choose to not wear my “speaker’s” badge, blending in with the few parents of color, I quickly became triggered. After the first couple of hours of day one, witnessing white privilege and experiencing, microagressions, I joined the parents of color space which was a reprieve. In an intimate circle of about 20-25 parents of color, I held space for their deep sharing of the joys and fears of raising children of color, decompressing the triggers of the camp, exchanging strategies on how to advocate for their children in schools, and more.
While the parents of color space was a breath of fresh air, and what I am accustomed to, my next task was to speak to the 125 or so white parents. This is where I struggled… I wanted to ensure that these white parents raised liberated children of color. I wanted to encourage them to leverage their privilege to uplift their children of color, like a parent of color would leverage everything that they have within them for the sake of their child. I wanted these white parents to go above and beyond to make sure that they did their work on white fragility and white privilege.
However, the night before my workshop with them, I witnessed a white mom doing exactly that–using her white privilge for her Black son. She was aggressive like a mama bear protecting her cub; however, she mistakenly put her paws on another Black child and growled at him. In her “protection” of her “cub”, she criminalized another Black boy for typical tween play (teasing). It was in that moment, that I witnessed what I have read about white folks (and particularly white women) who throughout history have wage their tears and fears (and privilege) to the harm and death of Black folks (remember Carolyn Bryant Donham?)
So I went to my room, prayed, meditated, and convened with my ancestors what was my purpose of being present with 125 white folks. Check out the podcast to hear what I mustered the following morning. I pray that my ancestors are proud.
“Dear White Parents Of My Black Child’s Friends: I Need Your Help”
Be an advocate for this beautiful soul who has eaten at your kitchen table, sit next to your son at church, been at your child’s birthday party. He is not the exception to the rule. He is not protected by my white privilege for the rest of his life. He is not inherently different from any other little black boy and all their lives have value and worth and were created by God.https://www.scarymommy.com/black-child-friends/
On Transracial Adoption:
On Foster Care: