“My parents and family love me, but they don’t understand all the issues I deal with.”
These words could have come from just about any American teenager. But as we delve a little deeper into Timothy’s story, it becomes apparent that, as a transracial adoptee, he has a better claim than most. Of Puerto Rican and Iranian descent, he was adopted by a White couple and raised in a small town in New Hampshire.
In the accompanying interview, Timothy speaks to a growing consciousness of the underlying racism in his town as revealed through potential romantic relationships. While he found easy acceptance as a friend, anything more was discouraged, at least by the parents of the girls in question. In a predominantly White town, his physical appearance marked him as Black. But if he responded to this imposed identity, acting “hoody or gangster” in a performance of race, his own parents put a stop to it. Seeking an outlet, he turned to music and writing as a form of self expression.
Adolescence is a time of soul searching and experimentation. But, as we all remember, it is critically important to fit in. Timothy is one of the many faces and voices featured in Tauber’s Blended Nation: Portraits and Interviews of Mixed Race America, published in 2010. Together, they provide an incredibly nuanced, thoughtful discussion of race which honors the diversity of lived experience in the mixed community.
As Rebecca Walker states in the Introduction, “The story is in the photographs- how people look and shine separate from their stories, from their ideas about themselves. Their bodies speak louder, much louder, than their words.” In Timothy’s case, I hope that’s true. The stillness of the forest reflects the isolation in his words, but his steady gaze and confident stance convey a maturity beyond his years. This kid will be alright.