“I haven't known if I should talk about this or not.” With these words, Abby Johnson began a 15 minute YouTube video on police brutality. Johnson is a former Planned Parenthood director turned pro-life activist. She is also an adoptive mother to a black son. I decided to watch her video with an earnest desire to hear her thoughts. As adoption is my wheelhouse, I need to know what an adoptive parent with a major platform thinks about an issue. I especially need to know how they may influence other adoptive parents because this, in turn, impacts adopted children. I was willing to put aside my fundamental disagreement with the ways in which she discusses abortion in hope that she, as the white mother of a black child, might use her platform to condemn police brutality toward black Americans.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I immediately began writing a blog post about what it feels like to be an adopted person whose reality plays second fiddle to their pro-life mother’s political work. My adoptive mother was on the board of directors of a crisis pregnancy center. I know what this feels like. This blog post I began writing became filled with guidance and advice on how to overcome political cognitive dissonance to ensure parents choose their children first. But, I soon realized that it was necessary for me to take down Johnson’s harmful arguments before I could publish that blog entry.
“As you can all see, I'm a very white person.” Johnson said. “And, I found that as a white conservative "non-woke" person, when I speak on racial issues, my voice isn't wanted. But, then when I'm silent on the issues, I'm told that I need to speak. And so, as a white person, I feel like I don't... I don't really know what to say.”
I'm deeply familiar with this state of being. I have been here myself. This is the "re-integration" stage (stage 3 of 6) on the Helm's White Racial Identity Model (cite). Someone in this stage is aware that white privilege and racism exist. However, they are unaware of what it means for white privilege to be "unearned." And, they are still looking for ways that biracial/indigenous/people-of-color (BIPOC) are responsible for the hardships that they face. White folks at this stage tend to perceive BIPOC activists as unfair or even "oppressive" to white people who give their opinions on race. This comes from the fact that the white person in this stage does not fully understand the conversation they've invited themselves into. Therefore, they do not understand the responses they receive either.