Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Color Blind: A Memoir by Precious Williams
Imagine if finding a child to adopt/foster was as easy as looking in the back pages of a magazine called Nursery World and scrolling through descriptions that read like, "attractive baby girl of Nigerian origin' available.
That's how Nigerian-born, but British-based journalist Precious Williams came to live with her 57-year-old foster mother who went by the name of "Nanny" and who had a penchant for fostering 'colored' children. It sounds too unbelievable to be true, but Color Blind is very much the true story of how Williams grew up from an infant to a young woman -- being shuttled back and forth between her cold, distant Nigerian mother and her well-intentioned but ill-equipped (to be raising a little Black girl in 1970s England) 'Nanny.'
Color Blind initially attracted me because I wanted to read about the Black girl in a White world experience across the pond. But Williams' memoir isn't an every girl's story because her family circumstances were quite particular. Her mother never gave her up for adoption, and in fact, haphazardly swooped in and out of Precious' life, often bringing chaos and confusion to her daughter's already convoluted world. Meanwhile, her foster family doted on her, but they were never allowed to be her 'real' family, nor did they truly comprehend that raising a Black child required a different set of skills than they innately possessed.
Color Blind is a bittersweet coming of age story that will surely make your heart ache. I also found myself angry and intrigued by the seemingly lax system of oversight for foster parenting in the United Kingdom and I'm curious if that system is still in place today. The book is beautifully written and you can't help but hope for a happy ending for the author, which she seems to be having as her life continues to unfold. To catch up with Williams these days, check out her website. But first read the book.