Violet is a transracial adoptee and musician living in Washington, DC. She currently plays with Veve & The Rebels. Violet shared an adoption story unlike anything I have ever heard. The beauty of the story is that she found healing through music.
“Music is what has kept me sane throughout the years, I've been making and loving music for as long as I can remember. I grew up in Massachusetts and there were very few black people there, mostly Caribbean, which I am not, so I learned more about their culture. My mom sought out other black people for me to be friends with, but they were mostly all mixed and had white moms, so they didn't know much about being "black" either. I didn't learn about black American culture until I left for college. I was told that black people didn't adopt black children. I didn't even think it was possible to be adopted by black people.
I was adopted from Texas at 3 months old. I had a closed adoption at first, but then my birth mom started to contact me through the adoption agency so it turned into an open one. Finding your birth family is a difficult experience. I wondered my whole life who my dad was. Once I found my paternal family I felt more complete. I have 6 other siblings through both my biological mom and dad. I have no siblings through my adopted mom. I don't necessarily think I was a baby that needed a home; I think I was given to someone who wanted a baby.
When it came time to go to Howard University, I was afraid, mostly of the other black people, cause I didn't know what to expect. I only knew stereotypes off of TV or had negative interactions with the black kids who called me an Oreo or whatever. I feel like I was robbed of my culture and my life and it's been a rude awakening coming into the world and actually being a black person. I think in some ways, I had the protection of whiteness. My (white) mom would stand up for me in racist situations and her words were taken seriously and something was done. Now I see that this isn’t always how things are for black people in the US. When I found this out, it changed me, it gave me something to write songs about. Somewhat as an observer, learning about black culture in a new way for the first time. And also as someone who had a different kind of black experience growing up. That's what my music reflects in the folk and rock aspect of it, my "Transracial upbringing," while the lyrics speak of the black experience and struggle for freedom.
I found my idenity when I moved to Washington, DC. I think of myself as kind of an indie black girl. I play the guitar and always listened to rock and alternative music, so once I found other black people like that at Howard University I felt like I fit in more. The anxiety left when I could be in class with black people and not worry about being the only black person in the room. I think having white and black people telling me that I wasn't really black, that I was really white on the inside, is what made me decide that I was really black, no matter what that meant.
When I was young, I was able to travel and see black and brown people in other places, that affirmed for me that there was a world outside the world I was in. It helped me make the choice to leave Massachusetts and move to DC. I grew up in an Episcopalian church and was used to going on mission trips and volunteering, so when I got to Howard, I was interested in continuing that work. Leaving campus helped me learn the city and meet people from DC. I helped start a music collective out of the house I was living in my senior year. We began by giving free music lessons and hosting networking events for artists. That's how I started to really meet people from DC and get involved in the local arts scene. I soon found that there was a vibrant black community nestled within this scene. During that time I was looking for answers about who I was as a black person and I was able to find them by becoming a part of this community.
At this time, I started slowly, writing songs and learning the guitar. All the while I was going through the process of finding my father's family because I now had a son. I searched for them because I didn't want him to not know where he came from the way I did. Writing music during that time helped me cope with the ups and downs of that process. I wrote the song “Say,” sitting in my father's old room in Texas once I had finally found my family. I learned from my dads friends that he was a rapper in his younger years when hip hop was still new. They told me he tried to learn the guitar and was "eclectic too." I got to play with my great uncle and cousins and for my great grandmother and family. Now, when I play shows in Texas, my family comes out to support me. They don't care that I'm different, they are just happy to have me home. And I am happy to have something I can share with them to say look, here's what I've been doing all this time that I've been gone.” #IAMHEARTPICKED