Daniel Holtzclaw

My Favorite Things of 2015

Dear The Adopted Life readers, As 2015 comes to a close, I'd like to thank you for being so loyal. I've been on quite the incredible ride since the premiere of the documentary. I'm fortunate to have met so many of you who share my belief in critical thinking and reaching outside of our comfort zones as one small way we can improve lives in our society.  As I reflect on such a momentous year in my personal life, I want to share some of my favorite moments that happened in the world around me. These are a few of my favorite things:

Favorite Article: How To Be An Interrupter wins this award. Pegged as "The White Person's Guide To Activism" this article is one of my top referenced articles when I teach workshops and trainings to white folks who desire to be considered an ally to the Black Lives Matter movement and want to be on the right side of history in our "post-racial" world. Yes, the author of this piece, Aaryn Belfer may be a personal friend, and I might be in love with her daughter, her San Diego home, her husband's wit and their dog, but if you think that her winning this award is a conflict of interest, then present your argument after digesting that it was shared on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest a few thousand times.

Favorite display of human intelligence: In my full-time professional work, I often preach Einstein's words about equality vs. equity. I'm glad to know I'll have a new example to add to my soapbox in James at Jim The Trim Barbershop. His actions rivals Einstein's brilliance, as he individually accommodates his clients to reach the same outcome: a fly haircut. Now that's equity!

Favorite speech:Viola Davis accepting her Emmy award and her powerful statement that the reason for the lack of black talent is not that we aren't talented, but rather "you can't win awards for roles that aren't there."

Although not technically a speech, Cecile's Richards (Planned Parenthood) shutting down representative, Jason Chaffetz is a runner-up.

Favorite interview: Alright, I've gotta shamelessly self-promote, here. One of my favorite interviews was speaking with a bright 10 year old girl after she saw Ava Duvernay's movie; Selma. I was also excited (Note: "excited" is an understatement - she is my girl crush) to have been contacted by Cipriana Quann, who asked to feature the video on Urban Bush Babes website.

Favorite Instagrammer: The beauties behind FosterMoms exemplify much of what I teach and stress in my adoption advocacy work. They share honestly and frequently, while keeping their little ones' lives private. I know them as "Tiny" and "Mr. Toddler." They've kept the boys' faces off of social media while educating on the power, struggle, love and tiring life of being LGBTQ foster parents.

Favorite Twitter feed: In 140-character gems, my Twitter feed can be inspiring, informative, and helps change the way I look at the world.@Deray is my source for on the ground truths of Ferguson, Charleston, Baltimore and other cases of police using excessive force. The 30 year old's reflections after meeting with Hilary Clinton was gracious while putting pressure on our Democratic front-runner. He is changing the world by demanding police officer accountability, and doing all of this while being black and gay. No easy feat.

Favorite display of public honesty: Monica Lewinsky's TEDTalk entitled "The Price Of Shame," exemplifies one of my professional missions. I strongly advocate for those marginalized within our society to learn how to own their own story and share it in a way that feels most true to them. This is not easy for folks who have been subjected to vitriol, hatred, abuse or other damaging interactions to their self-esteem. Monica Lewinsky endured years of public abuse, beautifully took back the reigns of her narrative by boldly sharing the story we all know too well in her own words. I'm thankful the folks in that room created such a safe space for her.

TheSerena Williams press conference after she beat her sister Venus is runner up in this category.

Favorite proud wife moment: Watching Bryan's creative process as he conceptualized, produced and edited this tear-jerker of a music video. I loved his purposeful choice to focus the story on showcasing powerful women in the minority black ballerina, single motherhood, adoptive parenting.

Favorite viral video:  Passing time in the airport can be exasperating. Between the plethora of germs, the searching my afro for weapons, eavesdropping on conversations, witnessing tearful hugs and kisses it can be enough to swear off airports for life. I will continue to travel in 2016, and would be impossibly happy to get the great fortune to witness a magical scene like this.

RELATED: I've spent far fewer hours on the New York subway, but still, why couldn't thishave happened?

Favorite binge-watch: The Newsroom. This show made me think about the ways media portrays "news." I'm too embarrassed to admit the number of consecutive hours spent on the couch. Next up? Season 4 of House Of Cards.

Favorite moment of justice: Watching Daniel Holtzclaw bawl like the weak little child that he is, and hearing some of the survivors speak out and having the whole world hear them and believe them.

"Amidst the suffering and mourning for Black lives lost and brutalized across the nation, we can finally celebrate having "won" one. At last, we can sit back and revel in our oppressor's suffering." -For Harriet

Favorite Fans: YOU! Thank you for your belief that adoptees should have a place at the table when discussing issues related to adoption. It's been an honor to build a community of thinkers who show a deep respect for humanity, engage in challenging dialogue with a willingness to be vulnerable, and modeling how to respectfully disagree with someone on the internet. I am greatly looking forward to hearing the voices of our adopted youth through The Adopted Life series in 2016 - thanks again for helping to make this a reality.



P.S. Did I miss something? Let me know!

The Colorblind Parenting Approach Makes Me Want To Yell "#StayMadAbby!"

The #StayMadAbby hashtag has been one of my favorite hashtag activism moments of the entire year.

The Story behind #StayMadAbby:

In 2008, Abigail Fisher was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin and decided to sue the school for race discrimination— claiming that as a white student, the university denied her admission because of her race. Only 47 students admitted to University of Texas-Austin that year had lower GPA's and test scores than Fisher. Of those 47, 42 were White and five were minority students. During the recent affirmative action arguments, Scalia suggested that some black students belong at “slower-track” universities. He implied affirmative action puts minority students in elite universities that are too challenging for them.

How does this pertain to transracial adoption?

I've often heard well-intentioned trans-racial adoptive parents speak about how much they love their little bundle of joy, and that they've chosen a colorblind approach to parenting. Many view colorblindness as a good thing, elaborating on their desire to take MLK seriously on his call to judge people on the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. They want to focus on commonalities between people, such as their shared humanity, and the fact that they are now a fully intact family-unit. What's so wrong with that?

How does the Colorblind approach sound to adult transracial adoptees?

Speaking for myself (not all adult transracially adoptees) what I hear is that this parent doesn't see that bad, ‘colored' part of me - that black part. If they ignore that part, then I'm a good kid, worthy of love and attention. Even when assuming that these parents are well-intentioned, and want to provide the best possible life for me,  it still occurs to me that one of the basic tenets of anti-racism is to understand that although one has not chosen to be socialized into racism, no one is neutral or exempt from it. To not act against racism is to support racism, thus the colorblind philosophy cannot remain. Since true human objectivity is impossible parents must reject the urge to avoid sounding prejudice by making this statement.

Since people of color cannot be racist*, the line of white privilege and oppression can feel especially blurry.  From my experience, adoptive parents desperately seek to create environments where their adopted children and their marginalized voices can speak freely and honestly. How can we do this if you've chosen to remain staunchly colorblind or pushing back against the truths of how white supremacy continues to reign? The strategy of disregarding race effectively covers up injustice and allows it to continue to permeate many aspects of society.

Robin + Angela
Robin + Angela

Robin DiAngelo, a white woman who "grew up poor" recognizes that her experience of poverty would have been different had she not been white. The mere fact that this sentence lives in her bio, stuns me. I view her choice to include this tidbit amongst the plethora of other impressive accolades as a way to educate anyone who dare seek out her presence. The reason this sentence spoke to me as, I've heard many white people speak about their own experience of marginalization as an effort to obscure and protect racism. Examples of this includes; "...I grew up poor, so I know what it's like...",  or "I have a black friend...", or "I grew up in the South, so I know all about that..."

In the words of Robin DiAngelo, "If you are white and have had many experiences, world-wide travels, diversified workplace, speak multiple languages etc., but have not explored your own racial identity then you are ignorant and ill-informed." 

Next time you bring up the impact of race on Donald Trump, american policing, Daniel Holtzclaw or topics that have seemingly less obvious racial implications (like the Star Spangled Banner and voting rights), and people respond by stating "race has nothing to do with it," or asks "why do you always bring race into the conversation?" perhaps respond with a simple statement like; "White people are unconsciously invested in racism" or "given our socialization, it is much more likely that we are the ones who don't fully understand the issue," or, do as I do and yell "#StayMadAbby" and walk away. I'm just kidding, I don't yell at people.

**Yes, you read that correct, people of color cannot be racist. Everyone is prejudiced but only members of a dominant group can be racist.