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Black or White: Black Kids Who Were Adopted By White Parents

By: Krystle Crossman

Black and White is a new movie that has come out starring Octavia Spencer and Kevin Costner. It focuses on a custody battle between the two for their granddaughter who is biracial. This example of a transracial family is trying to bring the struggles of racism for the child and what it’s like to grow up with a family of a different race to the public eye. The Root interviewed three people who are black and were adopted by white parents in the 70s. They asked them about what it was like growing up in a transracial house and what they feel about the Black and White movie.

1. LisaMarie Rollins – Rollins states that it was very hard for her growing up as she was the only person of color in the small town that she grew up in. She lived in Washington with her adopted parents and suffered quite a bit of racially driven actions such as s*xual violence, name calling, and physical violence. She states that she had a hard time finding herself as a black female because she didn’t have anyone else like her around. She believes that her parents tried as hard as they could to raise her without having to deal with racism but she also believes that they thought what every white parent with a black child thinks. They often feel that if they shield their child with “white privilege” they will be able to protect the children when all they are doing is making things worse. Rollins feels cautious about the Black and White movie as she feels that it will be another “white savior” movie where the person who is not of color rides in on their white horse (no pun intended) and saves the poor little black child. She compared the movie to the 1995 film Losing Isaiah.

2. Chad Goller-Sojourner – Goller-Sojourner grew up afraid of black people. He said that rap music scared him. He didn’t know his own identity because he was raised in a white community. Once he got to college and away from his parents he began to explore his culture more. He would go to all-black parties on campus. He changed his major to African-American studies. He grew to see the world more and more through a black person’s point of view without having the shield of his parents in front of him. He added the Sojourner name in college to further identify with his true self and his heritage. Like Rollins he stated that the movie Black and White seems to be more about the financially well-off white savior than it is about the plight of the black child being raised in a white household.

3. Rachel Noerdlinger – Even though Noerdlinger loved her adopted parents and how much they did for her, she went through a short period where she felt that transracial adoptions should only be a last resort. She didn’t feel that the love from her parents could overcome the amount of racism that she would have to deal with. Parents in the transracial households often try to raise their children in a “colorblind” world but it is really only a world that is blind to the fact that the child is still experiencing racism. She feels that more white parents need to be education on how to raise a black child if that is what they wish to do. They need to make sure that the child is still brought up knowing their heritage and culture and getting to experience it every day. Noerdlinger went through an identity crisis in college and ended up moving to Africa to find her true self. Even though she was surrounded by black people she still didn’t find what it was that she was looking for an so she moved back to the US. Noerdlinger feels differently about Black and White than the previous two interviewees. She does plan on seeing the movie and says that she thinks is a great way to open the dialogue about transracial families.

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