Man Describes Growing Up White And Black Families Rejection
This is pretty fascinating, especially since he did not have an actual relationship with another black person until he was 25-years-old.
According to NPR.org:
Chad Goller-Sojourner is African-American. In 1972, when he was 13 months old, he was adopted by white parents in Tacoma, Wash. He and his siblings are all different races than their parents. They were raised in a white suburb, but worked hard to expose them to other people who looked like him, and checked out every library book with a black author they could find. They even sent them to a more diverse school in a different neighborhood.
But Goller-Sojourner, now a writer and solo performer based in Seattle, says there was a limit to what his parents could provide. “One of the things I think was hardest for me is I didn’t have any independent relationships with black people, especially adult black people, till I was an adult,” he says. “I was 25 before I saw a black doctor.”
As a child, he experienced racism before he had the language to understand it, he says. “For instance, shopping: I learned pretty early on that when people knew I was with this white lady, that they treated me differently,” he says. As he got older, he realized that if he didn’t want to be followed in a store, he’d better make sure people knew he was with her.
“I would hold up some outfit and say, ‘Hey Mom, could I get this?’ And she’d be like, ‘No!’ Which let everybody within earshot know that I was with a white lady, and then suddenly, that privilege came back over me.” “My source of love and hate came from the same well,” he explains. “My parents looked just like the same people who were calling me a n**ger or porch monkey. … My mother and my parents were in my corner, but it was still difficult to process.”
In college he began what he calls a “descent into blackness and out of whiteness.” He describes it as a journey, giving up the privileges he claimed as a child of white parents and learning to accept his identity independent of them. He added Sojourner to his name.
“I moved to New York City, where for the first time I found my own reflection pleasing,” Goller-Sojourner says. “I learned to fall in love with myself and being black in my mid- to late-20s. And although it was a beautiful experience, it shouldn’t have taken 25 years to do that.”
He says that while a black home may be best for a black child, he’s not opposed to transracial adoption. “Here’s what gets people upset: Part of my story is, I was 13 months old, and according to the social workers in my file, I’d already been passed over by two or three black families because they considered me too dark,” he says.
His parents were among the first wave of transracial adopters, and did their best to prepare him for the real world. Parents today can do even better, he says.
“I don’t have a checklist,” he says, “but if I did, it would sound something like this: If you don’t have any close friends or people who look like your kid before you adopt a kid, then why are you adopting that kid? Your child should not be your first black friend.”
Photo: Chad Goller-Sojourner