Making my way through high school as most teens do, I struggled with who I was and how to fit in with everyone else. Because I was a bi-racial child adopted by white parents I wrestled with two sides of me. I looked black but lived white and did not know how to blend the two.
I resolved to pick one side. Since I appeared black and was treated as black I choose the role of a black male. Daily I would get up, put on my black suit, install my black tongue, and tie black rage around my neck.
I often wore a leather necklace in the shape of Africa and my favorite T-shirt plainly said on the back, “It is a black thing you wouldn’t understand.” My white parents did not flinch.
“How could they not be offended?” I wonder to myself now. My actions screamed, “ I don’t want to be like you.”
Mom and Dad allowed me to search for myself at the expense of their feelings. Gradually, I let go of my “black phase.” Eventually, I settled for a more respectable pride. This compromise allowed room for my parents who waited patiently for their invitation to come back in to my life.
In the large upstairs ball room at the North American Council for Adoptable Children conference today, I met seventeen year old me. He is the black son of white adoptive parents. His mother explained briefly some concerns she had and I asked if I could talk to him.
I tried to penetrate his protective armor that he had securely fastened and could not. He was polite and respectful but excused himself before I could get close. He was everything he thinks black is and deeply entrenched in it.
He is not ready to compromise because compromise may look more like betrayal.
“I have been there, I know what it’s like,” was my message. I am confident that soon before he puts on his armor what I said will find a way in.
Tomorrow, I will slide his mother my card and let her know he can call me when he hears what I said.