Monday, May 4, 2015

Parallels Between Adoptees of Color & the Civil Rights Movement

Receiving emails from strangers is an hourly experience for me since the Netflix debut of Closure. However, rare is the occasion that I receive a two page letter as an attachment and even rarer still that the letters states; "I am neither an adoptee, nor an adoptive parent..." Such was the case from the correspondence from Dr. Rachel Harding, a professor at the University of Colorado Denver, the daughter of civil rights leader, Vincent Harding and an incredible conversationalist. Although Rachel and I connected months ago via email, it was only recently that we we were able to meet in person near the University of Colorado campus. What a joyful power lunch! 
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Rachel Harding and Angela Tucker
Rachel has long sought to include the experience of adoptees in to her Ethnic Studies classroom discussions. I am honored to know that watching Closure helped her to solidify her long felt correlations between the experiences of adult adoptees of color and American experiences of communities of color. In her letter she stated "...after many centuries of slavery, genocide, reservations, racial exclusion laws and legal segregation, the legal challenges of the 1960s provided an opportunity for the American polity to restructure itself into a more fully democratic whole. However, by and large, (with some important exceptions) rather than take up the very hard work of authentically and consistently challenging itself to really be a healthy multiracial, multicultural nation with 'plenty good room' for all of its citizens, mainstream US society instead attempted, in various ways to 'adopt' folks of color into the mainstream without fundamentally changing the way the power structure functioned in favor of whites." Her statement sounds awfully familiar to the experiences of transracial adoptees and international adoptees who are oft expected to  seamlessly assimilate to new cultures.
Our shared knowledge and joint experiences created space for a conversation of great depth, while maintaining a deep respect for the topics. Rachel is exceptionally adept in her ability to see the connection between the seeming paternalism in the relationships of both adoptees and people of color, essentially infantilizing people without regard for their/our growth and power. Our conversation bled these two narratives together without even a hint of devaluing, or minimizing the experience of adoptees, or the experience of people of color post-1960s.
Rachel was quoted at her father's memorial as stating: "He always encouraged people to expand their notion of what we tend to call civil rights. He made certain that people understood that the movement in the South in the 60's and early 70's ... was not a movement simply for civil rights, but was for freedom." Through reaching out and connecting with me, Rachel has followed in her fathers footsteps by freeing my mind.

Freedom comes to those who attempt to honestly connect our history to present day. Freedom will ring for transracial adoptees and others who are tagged as "illegal," "illegitimate," or otherwise less than, the day the public majority invests time in having open conversations such as ours. 

Please, Let Freedom Ring. 


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About me: Angela Tucker is a trans-racial adoptee, adopted from foster care – born in the South and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She recently reunited with some of her birth relatives, and is still actively searching for another birth sister as is chronicled in the documentary, Closure.  Angela is a columnist for The Lost Daughters and her blog The Adopted Life and has been featured in Psychology Today, Adoptive Families Magazine, Slate.com, Huffington Post and other mediums.

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