Going to a school as a member of the Minority Academic Achievement Program is not a guarantee that a person raised in racial isolation will automatically jump into the Black community and learn everything there is to know about being Black.
A racial identity is something that takes years to develop and trying to develop on in college is not a good idea. First of all, this is a time of enormous change for a teenager. It is normally the first time that any of us has ever been away from home for an extended period of time. It is a time of great freedoms and self exploration. Second of all, without the proper tools to be able to work through issues that will inevitably come up , then there could be serious issues. As there were with me. Finally, how would a kid raised in racial isolation know how to even approach a subject like this on her own. At 18 years old? Where would I even begin?
This is where I began…..
Two suicide attempts.
Two suicide attempts that were serious cries for help. Two suicide attempts that showed that I needed help processing the world around me. My parents dumped me off on shrinks and the shrinks collected their money for the required period of time and set me free back out into the world. A changed person? Not at all.. Just a person who was tired of going to hospitals and talking to shrinks.
To this day I don’t think that my parents think that my identity crisis, my suicide attempts or my emotional issues were something that they had to work through with me. I don’t even think that they think and “identity crisis” is a real thing. These were my issues and my issues alone. I have never felt their support on these issues outside of sending me to someone else to deal with them – or to try to medicate me. I resent them for that. I resent them for being so short sighted about the issues that I was facing and for not understanding that these were OUR issues to work through. I have always felt that they, especially my mother, was more focused on her biological son to really be able to give me the attention that I needed. And to be fair, he is a piece of work. But to say that I was adopted because “they fell in love with me” and then ot be there for me when I needed them at this age- I felt abandoned.
Then there is the friend thing.
Unless a trans racially adopted child has been socialized to be comfortable around her own race, she will probably cling to friends that look just like the ones that she grew up with – ones that do not look like her. And this will only continue to further the thought that there is something wrong with the way she looks. She still will not find that mirroring that is necessary for healthy self image.
It is essential that this mirroring happens early in life and on a consistent basis.
Going to college blind was a huge handicap for me. I somehow survived it, but I really shouldn’t have. I had an angel on my shoulder for sure.
The parents of the next generation of kids really need to hear my story and ask themselves if they are doing enough to make sure that their children are getting adequate mirroring and that they are working toward a healthy self- image. Nothing is guaranteed in life, but there are somethings that can be resolved a long the way.
If you are in love with your child, then you will do the little things that will make their transition from your home into college a little easier.
And those are my final thoughts are I transition from my undergraduate years where I went from thinking like a white girl to being completely confused about what it was that I was and into starting to transition into a Black girl.