So last night I sat down to watch Kiri. Early on, very early on, a young girl who is about to be transracially adopted is being taken to see her grandparents on an unsupervised visit by her kind of empathetic but clearly signposted as problematic, social worker. The visit has been set up not least because her soon to be adoptive parents are white and her grandparents are black and, as the potential adoptee knows, colour is a thing.
Cool I think. This is a character who can voice those things I know and people I know also know them but none of the rest of the world seems to be particularly interested in.
However by the second commercial break Kiri is dead and in drama terms the shit has hit the fan.
But I can’t stop myself from thinking hasn’t the shit already hit the fan? In fact I’d say the fan was already spinning hard before the opening scene so shit is all over the shop, otherwise why is she being adopted? But this is all about these characters and the acting and the accents and the location. What it isn’t about is what it feels like to hang around with people who may well love the bones of you but haven’t got the faintest idea of what it is like to be a little race and my heart sinks because the one person who is the expert was last seen facedown, cold and motionless in a copse.
I reckon know why too. I reckon most people don’t ever stop for a moment to think about their own ethnicity beyond a form field or passport colour. I’d say that most people think ethnicity is about foreignness and a curious fact about transracial adoption itself is that ethnicity it is easier to put to one side than it is to address.
But here is this fiction on national television that uses transracial adoption as it’s starting point but kills the child before the papers can even be signed so she’s even in a kind of limbo while those left behind I am prepared to bet will spend the next episodes fighting and revealing hitherto hidden aspects of themselves that will become plot points that will be tweeted about and talked about. I am prepared to bet that by the end when people are talking baftas and the like, nobody is going to be any the wiser about what it is like to be transracially adopted because as usual is all about the projections of those who don’t get to live the experience.