I was six when I met my mom for the first time. We were at the Oakland Zoo at an event where people meet foster kids. This tall Caucasian woman walked up to me and offered to get me a slice of pizza. It was my sixth that day. But the foster home I was living in at the time barely fed me, so I chowed down.
After that, I started seeing the Caucasian lady about once a week. We’d go to the park or her house, and we’d talk. A few months later, I moved in. Eventually, she became my mom. Back then, I didn’t really care that my mom was white. As I got older, though, race became more of an issue. I could tell by the way people would stare at us that they were trying to figure how we were related. Once, a kid came up and asked, “Is that your mom?” Even though she was standing a few feet away and could hear the whole thing, I told him, “No, that’s my babysitter.” I was embarrassed. I felt like people were asking, where are your real parents? And my real parents didn’t want me.
Being adopted is difficult. Same with being part of a mixed race family. To this day, I avoid family photos. Not because I don’t like my family, but because I feel out of place. There I am, the short black girl in the front row. On the flip side, I sometimes feel like I have a superpower, like I can more easily see two sides of the same story.
Take police brutality. I know that the killings of black people are wrong and undeserved. But I can also understand why members of my adoptive family, who live in mostly white cities like Davis, don’t talk about the Black Lives Matter movement. Race in America is a mess. If we didn’t know that before Charlottesville, we certainly know it now. I’ve had experiences others haven’t, and my perspectives are unique.
I definitely have a superpower. I’m just trying to figure out how I can use it.
With a Perspective, I’m Heaven Bachand.
Heaven Bachand is a high school junior in Oakland. Her commentary was produced by Youth Radio.