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Black Girls Who Look Like White Girls...: An Introduction

Once upon a Times Square, a random stranger introduced me to the label “black girls who look like white girls.” I didn’t get a chance to ask the young, black man to explain (which is fine, I guess). I’ve been called and heard a lot of things. As a biracial black girl raised in a white family and in predominantly white communities, I can’t say, “I’ve heard it all” (thank god!), but I can say, “I’ve heard a lot!” From being called “beautiful” and “exotic” to being told (in writing) that my “real mother” is a “crack whore,” my “real father” is “in prison,” and my white, adoptive parents are just “bleeding-heart liberals.” Yep. I’ve heard both the ego-boosting good and the hauntingly-hurtful bad (and a lot of the in-between). As a 30-something now, I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on what I’ve heard, their contexts, and my own experiences.

My life began in Zambia. If you’re asking yourself (or even Googled), “where’s Zambia,” you’re not alone. That’s a question I’ve been asked countless times, to which I respond, “it’s a country in Africa.” Sometimes, that’s met with acknowledging head nods, and sometimes, I’m prompted to provide more geographical context. No judgement here though (geography has never been my forte). “Have you ever been there?” some have followed up, to which I tell them, “no” or “not yet.”

My young, blue-eyed birth mother had never been there either. In fact, she’d never been on a plane, before leaving her Pennsylvania hometown for a teaching mission in Zambia. There, she met my birth father, a Zambian teacher. The two hit it off (obviously, because I’m here).

Before I was born, my birth mother encountered endless scrutiny from her hometown around white women having black babies and children born out of wedlock. A few days after I was born, I was adopted into a caucasian family. My birth mother selflessly and wholeheartedly made that decision in my best interest.

As with her journey into motherhood, my adoptive parents’ adoption journey was met with similar societal scrutiny. After all, how could a white family raise a black child? (All of my parents may have actually “heard it all.”)

 

After all, how could a white family raise a black child?

 

Decades later, here I am: Courtney Elizabeth Hexham (or Courtney “Little Bit” Hexham, as my toddler self made effort to pronounce it). I’m finally putting all of these “sound bites'' to page, context, and reflection. It’s definitely taken me most of my life to reach a state of biracial black girl contentment, living in the “gray” area of black and white communities for so long. I hope that by sharing what I’ve heard and my experiences (including my hair care hacks), I can inspire smiles and conversation. I also hope that these experiences resonate with at least one person, perhaps, another biracial adoptee (perhaps even, whose African heritage is outside of US history books), new or aspiring adoptive parents, or another one of the “black [people] who look like white [people].”

In any case, thank you for “listening.”





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