Behaviors & Attitudes of Allies to Transracially Adopted Persons

From my presentation at Rainbow Families Conference

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Behaviors & Attitudes of Allies to Transracially Adopted Persons

Ways to be an ally

  • Interrupt offensive jokes. Even if they aren’t about your child’s racial or ethnic group, if you stay quiet you are “showing” your child it’s okay to make fun of people of color
  • Educate yourself and support the social justice issues and causes of the racial and ethnic community your child belongs to, both in the US and from the country of origin
  • Read books/articles/view films by adult transracial adoptees
  • Interact and find support from other adoptive parent allies and likewise support other allies.
  • Don’t judge others experiences, especially if they seem negative. Seek to understand their experiences. Don’t dismiss experiences of racism.
  • Acknowledge the powers and privileges bestowed upon you based on your social group membership. Understand your privileges as a white person and as a parent, and help others understand their own privileges.
  • Utilize your power to bring about social change that benefits all people, especially those underprivileged from your child’s community.
  • Seek to understand all the different forms of oppression – gender, racial, class, GLBTQ, etc.
  • Notice the numerous intersections between different forms of oppression.   
  • Let your actions speak louder than your words. Participate in your child’s racial/ethnic community because you value the diversity, not just for your child.
  • Don’t make your child be the “bridge” for you
  • Don’t expect external rewards for your work as an ally – feel good and be proud about the work you do.
  • Don’t expect your child’s racial or ethnic community to welcome you just because you want to participate, and especially if you want them to be invested in your child. You need to be invested in their lives as well.
  • Walk your talk.
  • Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.
  • Be comfortable with criticism and feedback. Accept that others may stereotype you
  • Don’t buy into stereotypes. Try to acknowledge your own prejudices and baggage. Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious participation in oppression. Use examples that don’t exclude a particular group’s experience.
  • Don’t get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past. Know that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your responsibility.
  • Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through your words.
  • Don’t expect someone else to represent an entire social group, especially just because you are parenting one from their community.
  • Remember to speak only from your own experience, and do not assume your child speaks for his or her entire racial/ethnic group.
  • Don’t assume to know what support others want and what’s best for them.
  • Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another – there is no hierarchy of oppressions.
  • Accept that none of us are experts in diversity.

Materials adapted from: Ederer, Jeff & Barnes, Lori: Allies for Social Justice., ACPA 2000

Author: JaeRan

Assistant professor at UW Tacoma, writer, and researcher.

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