"Why Can't You Look at Me And Talk With Me About This?"
By the time author and cultural critic Rebecca Carroll was a teenager, she had experienced a childhood as the sole Black member of a white adoptive family, the sole Black resident of a tiny New Hampshire town, and the sole Black student in a school where students happily partook in a traditional “slave day,” in which the boys got to "buy" the girls.
Born to a white mother and Black father, Rebecca was adopted in the early ‘70s by a liberal white couple, intellectuals and naturalists who believed their love was enough to make their daughter feel seen. It isn’t until early adulthood, when Rebecca has Black teachers, friends, co-workers, and lovers, and reunites with her birth father, that she starts to cast herself in her own gaze.
In her new memoir, Surviving the White Gaze, Rebecca describes with heroic honesty and compassion, an upbringing seated in a family whose whiteness prevents them from facing their failings, in a country unwilling to do the same.
On this episode, Rebecca talks to Elizabeth about navigating overt and covert racism as a child, her difficulty connecting with both her birth and adoptive fathers, and the fallout when families can't tell the truth.