10.21.2005

I should be more gracious, I know, but...

If the following sounds like I’m overwrought, you’re right. I am. I think it may be because I haven’t slept more than a few hours at a time since KENNEDY WAS ASSASSINATED. And that is a very long time.

But

If I had posted about a problem I was facing with homophobia being directed towards my daughter, and someone came to my blog and wrote that they were disturbed to find out that it was 2 women raising a child… I wouldn’t give that person the motherfucking time of day. So why should I when the issue is race rather than sexual orientation? Because I asked for it? Because I started the conversation? Because I was looking for outside opinions?

I don’t need to be told that people have a problem with white women raising a biracial child. I know that already. I have known it since before we began inseminating. There are people who have treated us like we have stolen/appropriated something. There are people who treat us the way people would treat a couple who raised their child speaking only Esperanto (ie people who let their ideals get in the way of raising a child that can communicate with and move confidently through the larger world). Some people might go so far as to try to take a child away from parents like that.

How do comments like this help? Are you telling me that we should have exhaustively detailed our donor selection process before even trying to start this conversation in order to let everyone know that we thought we had a fucking clue before we started? Or are you just telling me that we should have hung a sign on my partner’s body that stated “WHITES ONLY”? Are you telling me that we should have turned down the donor who matched every single one of the criteria we listed (intelligent, easy going, responsible, interested in being an uncle but no more, believes passionately in social responsibility, vegetarian, Unitarian/Universalist, kind to puppies butterflies and ornery old ladies, a great cook, holistic, GETS MY JOKES – the most important criterion) because he was black? Because when you criticize our choice of donor based only on our and his skin colors, or on your perception of our enlightenment prior to pregnancy, that’s what you’re telling me. Comments like that serve to shut the conversation down on my end. They sound a whole hell of a lot like, “Shut up white woman, you stole your black sperm and had your “cute” biracial baby. So now you have just to deal with the consequences.” Such comments divert attention to something that cannot be helped because it happened in the past and away from the matter at hand, which is what do we do now and how can we make this world a better place? How can we act proactively instead of defensively or aggressively?

And if I’m choosing to think about hair right now, it’s not because I want to make my “cute” biracial child’s “cute” hair even cuter. But because I happen to see this as ONE THING that is coming up on the horizon. One very complex issue involving many strands of fear and control and preconceived notions. But it’s true that that is only one thing (and not the greatest of those things) on my list of concerns. And it could be that one small thing is all I can deal with at the moment since my brain is leaking gray matter from sleep-deprivation-created holes in my head.

After all, I haven’t slept since before I was born.

Posted by Trista @ 7:00 PM

Read or Post a Comment

You know how I feel.
Love her, raise her, and teach her right from wrong. That's all anyone can do.
I believe you knew as much as you could, and were as prepared as you could be. You do not need anyone's permission or blessing. Julia graced you with her presence. That's all the blessing you need.

Posted by Blogger Estelle @ 8:33 PM #
 

To me, and I am more red than white right now because of the wine, I think the presentation of race is always more problematic than race actually is. Obviously, Julia will have a complex life. Yay! You and Kristen are smart enough and cool enough to deal with that. And I believe you are a lightning rod for change rather than a boomerang for backlash.

Posted by Blogger Nik @ 12:32 AM #
 

"There are people who treat us the way people would treat a couple who raised their child speaking only Esperanto (ie people who let their ideals get in the way of raising a child that can communicate with and move confidently through the larger world)."

If the child has enough contact with the rest of the world, that won't necessarily create a problem. Don't forget that there are many families who speak a language at home that is different from the official/local one(s). It's a question of integration or isolation.

Anyway, I can't remember a case where parents would actually do that. You already gain enough criticism for raising a child with Esperanto at all.

Greetings from a native speaker of Esperanto!

Posted by Anonymous Kunar @ 6:34 PM #
 

Wow. This discussion hasn't gone well, huh? I'm sorry that things have gone so downhill. Talking about race and racism is always an incredibly difficult discussion, both for people of color who may feel tired of having to be lonely voices in so many of these conversations, and for white people who want to talk but may not always be as good at understanding and expressing themselves about this as they might want to be. I love reading both yours and Kwynne's blogs regularly. I hope that you'll keep posting about these issues, how all kinds of oppression affect your family, and how it changes your consciousness as you move along. Try not to be discouraged when stumbling blocks like this occur. Your family is beautiful.

Posted by Blogger starevelina @ 7:54 PM #
 

FWIW, my advice is to for you and Kristin to try really hard not to 'should' all over yourselves. Other people -- from all walks of life -- will come and should all over your family anyway. Why add to it?

You know -- and so does Kristin -- that every day you'll do your best with Julia. And you know you'll make mistakes. Welcome to the human race. Please try not to beat yourself up for being a member.

Posted by Anonymous Liza @ 8:43 AM #
 

I don't know what the exact comments were that inspired this post, so I hope I haven't missed the point entirely. If I have, please forgive me and chalk it up to ignorance. But...

We, too are white people raising a biracial (AA/CC) daughter. The response to our family and the way we created it so far has been so much more positive than I thought it would be. I thought we would get idiot comments about "saving" a child and idiot comments about "stealing" a child, etc. I'm so glad we haven't yet - but I know we will.

I don't think I will know how to handle these comments, either. We did so much to prepare ourselves to be culturally competent parents to a transracially adopted child. We've read, we've taken classes, before we ever even thought about adoption we were already doing what we could to acknowledge our white privilege and do what we could to not take advantage of it, we have a diverse group of friends, we make sure we keep up the conversations about race in our lives. All we can do as parents raising children of different races than our own is to be honest and open about our shortcomings in being conscious about race, and keep trying.

What we're doing is not wrong. But it is wrong for people to judge us when we're making an effort. Time spent judging us and telling us what we're doing wrong could be better spent redirecting us and guiding us to do better.

Posted by Blogger afrindiemum @ 8:26 PM #
 

Just remember that in the face of opposition, you have SO MANY people who support you. And Julia will be a strong, independent soul because of the example YOU set, not because of what other people think...

Posted by Blogger Amanda @ 8:51 AM #
 

I think your girl has the best starting point I could think of. She has two parents who love her, a good home and a uncle who also love her.
Why should anyone care if the two parents are both women as long as they love each other and the child?
I truly cannot believe that someone actually think that you'll not make good parents to this girl!?

I loved your blog BTW. I'll stop by every now and then..

Posted by Blogger Nerdine @ 6:13 AM #
 
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