On Jan. 21, the 36-year-old recorded a video of himself holding his daughter in his lap while he continuously brushed her hair. While doing so, he requested his followers and users of the social media platform to help his video reach the Black community so they could provide hair tips for him because he was unsure of what to do since he was a Caucasian man.
“I am hoping to get this TikTok over to Black TikTok…any Black parents,” he said while looking into the camera. “We have adopted a black baby, her name is Zoë and I don’t know what to do for her hair. I have this little brush, I have something from Shea Moisture…um…I really don’t know what to use. So please, any Black parents or anyone that knows what to do with Black children’s hair, please help me in the comments. Thank you.”
The video instantly began circulating with many people upset at the way Power posed his question, especially since there were so many resources available to him. Many accused him of using Zoë for content.
“100% just for show. Scary,” one woman said in response to the video.
“As a white person the way he keeps saying black is making even me uncomfortable,” another person commented.
“Black baby before name is crazy 😭😭😭,” someone else said in agreeance.
“Just because you have black children does mean you use them for clout or fetishize them. That baby is 5 days old and is already being fetishized. 😞,” TikTik user @sun.icu said.
In response to the backlash, Power shared that he wasn’t aiming to get clout or become popular as it was a genuine question he had, which he now regrets doing, according to NBC News.
“People said I viewed her as a prop or accessory and not a human being, and that’s not the case at all. That’s not how I view my daughter at all,” he told NBC News.
Moreover, it started a larger conversation about interracial adoption, which has been an ongoing topic for years, especially when it pertains to Black children being adopted by white parents. According to the Institute for Family Studies, adoptive parents in North America are mostly white, which means there is a higher chance of transracial adoptions. When Black children are adopted and connected to communities, organizations and history that reflect their race’s roots, they have “positive psychological, academic, and behavioral outcomes” compared to when they are raised in a household that negates these experiences. When it’s the latter, they are left struggling to find an identity per a 2008 report from research conducted by Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, which no longer exists, causing its members to join the National Center on Adoption and Permanency.
Hannah Jackson Matthews, a biracial (Black and White) adult who founded HeyTRA, an online educational content organization “created to help TRAs (transracial adoptees) navigate race, embrace racial identity, and combat racism and white supremacy,” can attest to the struggle of being raised in a mostly white environment due to her adoptive parents being white.
“Adoptees grow up racially, culturally isolated from other adoptees,” she said in an interview with NBC News. “With the internet, we’ve been able to see that, yes, we are a minority within a minority, but we’re not alone.”
During her life journey, she had to discover on her own how she fit in society. Although her parents treated her great, she was often met with racism or felt uncomfortable in different situations.
“I definitely dealt with a lot of early experiences of racism, discrimination, bias,” Matthews said.
In addition, the 31-year-old shared a story with the outlet about a time she was at a sleepover. All the girls were doing each other’s hair, but when it came time to style hers she was told, “Well, we don’t know how to do your hair, Hannah,” by one of the girls a the party. She opened up about how situations like that made her feel “left out” as if she “was not supposed to be there.”
What made it worse for Matthews was keeping those emotions to herself because she didn’t feel her parents would be able to fully relate to those types of encounters.
Since the viral lashing, Power told NBC News that he and his partner have discussed the impact her race will have on Zoë’s life. Since they live in a diverse community that’s inclusive to Black people, he has friends that he leans on to help guide him about raising Zoë. He admitted that he made the mistake of running to the internet in an overwhelming moment of joy to be her parent to seek more advice.
“I’ve learned that I need to be very intentional about the community that surrounds us and her on a consistent basis and have people who look like her talk to her,” Power said. “I want Zoë to grow up to love herself. That includes her personality, her skin color, her hair, everything.”
He added, “I will continue to use every resource at my disposal to raise Zoë to be the best person she can be with the best parents we can be.”