White Fragility

This is a very personal post about me and my daughter. We got into a huge fight last night over the n-word.

We were driving in the city listening to her songs. I personally found the songs disgusting and demeaning to women. Every other word was p—-y, Ho, b—ch and especially nig-er. Not nig—a. But nig-er.

To me there’s a huge difference. And I told her that NO ONE, black or white, should ever use that word. I also told her that I think it’s disgraceful to hear singers use it in their songs.

My daughter told me that I was acting like a racist. She said white people can’t use the word. But that black people can because they are taking back the word. They are taking ownership of the word.

I have no clue what that means. And if I’m wrong I’ll be the first to admit it. But I think using that word under ANY circumstances is wrong. And that includes rap stars.

I’ll be blunt. I think the way these rap stars talk about women is despicable and demeaning. They are NOT ho’s, bitc—s, and nig-rs.

They are beautiful women who deserve our respect.

So, wonderful that he cares about this young woman and wants her treated well. But it appears that he’s trying to tell her she can’t use words from the culture she’s scrambling to belong to because she’s been raised outside of it ? If you are the Caucasian parent of a Person of Color, it matters not what way, shape or form, it is NOT your place to tell your children about their own culture or what is racist to them. As a parent, it is ESPECIALLY your job to listen.

Forced Sterilization

In China –

A teacher coerced into giving classes in Xinjiang internment camps has described her forced sterilization at the age of 50, under a government campaign to suppress birth rates of women from Muslim minorities. Qelbinur Sidik said the crackdown swept up not just women likely to fall pregnant, but those well beyond normal childbearing ages. Messages she got from local authorities said women aged 19 to 59 were expected to have intrauterine devices (IUDs) fitted or undergo sterilization.

In 2017, Sidik was 47 and her only daughter was at university when local officials insisted she must have an IUD inserted to prevent the unlikely prospect of another pregnancy. Just over two years later, at 50, she was forced to undergo sterilization. When the first order came, the Chinese language teacher was already giving classes at one of the now notorious internment camps appearing across China’s western Xinjiang region.

She knew what happened to people from Muslim minorities who resisted the government. In a Uighur-language text message that she shared, local authorities made the threat explicit. “If anything happens, who will take responsibility for you? Do not gamble with your life, don’t even try. These things are not just about you. You have to think about your family members and your relatives around you,” the message said. “If you fight with us at your door and refuse to collaborate with us, you will go to the police station and sit on the metal chair!”

In the US –

Dawn Wooten, a nurse working at an ICE detention center in Georgia, made startling allegations about the treatment of the women detained there. Wooten filed a whistleblower complaint against the agency last Monday.

Natalia Molina has written about the history of forced sterilization. There’s a shameful legacy of US officials ordering operations on people without their consent — often disproportionately targeting people of color — with laws driven by racism and cloaked in terms about mental health and fitness. There’s a long history affecting many different racial and ethnic groups, across many institutions — mental health hospitals, public hospitals and prisons.

The ICE allegations can be seen as a recent episode in a much longer trajectory of sterilization abuse and reproductive injustice.

Back in 1907, Indiana passed the world’s first eugenics sterilization law. 31 other US states followed suit. Women and people of color increasingly became the target, as eugenics amplified sexism and racism. The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed “feeble-minded” or “mentally defective,” later became models for Nazi Germany.

Under those laws, about 60,000 people were sterilized in procedures that we would qualify today as being compulsory, forced, involuntary, and under the justifications that the people who were being sterilized were unfit to reproduce. In California, people of Mexican descent were disproportionately sterilized. And in North Carolina, Black women were disproportionately targeted. Most of the state laws were repealed by the 1970s. But their history is something states are still reckoning with.

Could progressives become the next target upheld by a very conservative Supreme Court ? One hopes not but with the craziness that is overtaking the US, one can no longer predict how outrageous an unethical policy might be and still be upheld in the coming future. What has been done, cannot be undone, but we should never be silent about injustice and abuse. We can stop turning our heads away because it is someone else’s problem.

Never forget, social ideas can be twisted in order to promote dehumanization. Like the Muslim ban Trump ordered shortly after his inauguration.

The Story of Haitian Adoptions

God’s Littlest Angels, an orphanage in Pétionville, Haiti

Since the subject has come up, I thought I would look into this.  The January 12 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti’s capitol set off an international adoption bonanza in which some safeguards meant to protect children were ignored.

The current Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett adopted John Peter, now age 13, was adopted by her in 2010 when he was 3 years old, after the devastating earthquake in Haiti.  Ibram X. Kendi tweeted, “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children. They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity. And whether this is Barrett or not is not the point. It is a belief too many White people have: if they have or adopt a child of color, then they can’t be racist.”

John Lee Brougher from the NextGen America PAC tweeted, “As an adoptee, I need to know more about the circumstances of how Amy Coney Barrett came to adopt her children, and the treatment of them since. Transracial adoption is fraught with trauma and potential for harm.”  And I really hoped that Trump would have picked the judge from Florida that was on the short list for diversity reasons but I knew he didn’t care one whit about diversity.  He does care about the Evangelicals (many of whom promote international adoptions) and their desire for ultra-conservative judges.  From that perspective, of course Coney Barrett was a given and that has proven out.  A group of Evangelicals were reported in the Oval office the morning before the official announcement.

The Obama administration responded to BOTH the crisis and to the pleas of prospective adoptive parents and the lawmakers assisting them, by lifting visa requirements for children in the process of being adopted by Americans.

Although initially planned as a short-term, small-scale evacuation, the rescue effort quickly evolved into a baby lift unlike anything since the Vietnam War. It went on for months; fell briefly under the cloud of scandal involving 10 Baptist missionaries who improperly took custody of 33 children; ignited tensions between the United States and child protection organizations; and swept up about 1,150 Haitian children, more than were adopted by American families in the previous three years, according to interviews with government officials, adoption agencies and child advocacy groups.

Under humanitarian parole, adoptions were expedited regardless of whether children were in peril, and without the screening required to make sure they had not been improperly separated from their relatives or placed in homes that could not adequately care for them.

Some Haitian orphanages were nearly emptied, even though they had not been affected by the quake or licensed to handle adoptions. Children were released without legal documents showing they were orphans and without regard for evidence suggesting fraud. In at least one case, two siblings were evacuated even though American authorities had determined through DNA tests that the man who had given them to an orphanage was not a relative.

I’m sure there will be more about these circumstances in the coming days.  To inform yourself about the matter, you can read about the free for all Haitian adoptions after the 2010 earthquake in the New York Times – “After Haiti Quake, the Chaos of U.S. Adoptions“.

Why Would She Say This ?

Though Abby Johnson is best known for her anti-abortion activism, I am mystified by what I learned.  How could she say this ?  Not entirely leaving aside the problematic situation of this white woman raising a Black son born to a Black mother or father (however that came to pass).  So okay, he isn’t 100% Black, he’s biracial but a lot of white people lump them together equally.

The speaker at the current RNC convention said that the police are “smart” to target her ADOPTED Black son because he is “statistically” more likely to commit a violent offense.No wonder Black people are more likely to die during encounters with law enforcement, if this is the prevailing point of   view.

Admittedly, Abby Johnson is a controversial figure. She has a long history of making racist remarks on Twitter and in video blogs. How can it be the most beneficial placement for this Black young man ?

Johnson once said in a video posted as recently as last June (after the killing of George Floyd) that, “I recognize that I’m gonna have to have a different conversation with Jude than I do with my brown-haired little Irish, very, very pale-skinned, white sons, as they grow up.” She certainly has no problem viewing “her” boys from different racially based perspectives. What is in this woman’s heart ?

Her husband blogged in 2015 about the couple adopting the boy at birth. She is quoted as saying, ““Right now, Jude is an adorable, perpetually tan-looking little brown boy. But one day, he’s going to grow up and he’s going to be a tall, probably sort of large, intimidating-looking-maybe brown man — and my other boys are probably gonna look like nerdy white guys.”

So let me get this straight, she is projecting this boy into becoming an “intimidating” man ? Why do they have him at all ? I don’t understand this.

In explaining her comment about police profiling her son, she adds, “Statistically, I look at our prison population and I see that there is a disproportionately high number of African-American males in our prison population for crimes, particularly for violent crimes. When a police officer sees a brown man like my Jude walking down the road — as opposed to my white nerdy kids, my white nerdy men walking down the road — because of the statistics that he knows in his head, that these police officers know in their head, they’re going to know that statistically my brown son is more likely to commit a violent offense over my white sons.”

I can’t help but call racial bias on this woman and I am sad that sweet little boy is being raised by her.  She had had some ignorant and factually incorrect things to say about Black fathers.  She says that Black fathers have not taken their place in the home. According to her, 70% of Black homes do not have a father present.

I don’t know, it is not something I have researched; but of course, if more Black men are incarcerated than their percentage of the population would represent, that may be true. She makes a statement about activists in the Black community trying to redefine what Black fatherhood is.  I was also aware of such initiatives but from a more positive perspective than she goes on to assert. She claims that Black fatherhood looks like a Black man coming in and out of the home. I am white also and I would never attempt as a white person to define anything about the Black community and I believe that is where she also oversteps her bounds.

And wow, she really steps into it saying that “culturally, it is accepted for Black men to be with multiple women.” I had to stop listening to her youtube rant at that point. There are just as many white and men of other races out there messing around with multiple women – our current president included.  We would not even have a MeToo movement if men had not gotten lost in their sexual values along the way. And of course, not all men, but just saying what is obvious to me. So I am done with Abby Johnson.

I remember my family watching If Beale Street Could Talk. I believe this gives an honest portrayal of the close knit nature of Black families, even when the father is incarcerated. The movie was adapted from a James Baldwin novel about 1970s Harlem. I trust Baldwin’s perspectives on Black issues more than I trust this woman’s perspective.  In the movie, the young man is arrested for a crime he did not commit. The social indictment of our institutionally racist justice system is a thread in the plot.

I could go on and on but I do recommend this movie to anyone who believes Abby Johnson is justified in her opinion of Black families and especially Black fathers.  It may just change your opinion enough to open your mind a little bit.

Jesus Loves The Little Children

As a young girl, growing up in an Episcopal Sunday School, we would sing “Jesus Loves The Little Children”.  It is firmly ingrained in my mind –

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Red, brown, yellow
Black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children
Of the world

And I innocently believed this completely.  However, we are now in a time of serious civil unrest and it is not without good reason.  The parents of children of color worry reasonably about the safety of their young and give them “the talk” at a young age.  Yesterday, a business associate of ours located in Kansas City admitted to my husband that he still worries about his 21 year old son who naturally has a black skin color.

I wonder if white transracial adoptive parents are able to understand the danger.  I have listened to some grown adoptees who are black but were raised in white households lament that they don’t feel comfortable in the neighborhoods and among the people of color that they are genetically related to.  This ability to fully relate has been robbed from them by adoption.  Yet, as adults, at some level they realize they are beset by risks the white people who raised them do not fully comprehend.

Why is it that good people who are religious fail to understand the confusion and pain of adopting black children into white families ?

Asher D Isaacs writes in his article “Interracial Adoption: Permanent Placement and Racial Identity – An Adoptee’s Perspective” for the UCLA National Black Law Journal this –

I am the product of an interracial adoption. My birth father is Black and my birth mother is white. At the age of eighteen months, I was adopted by a white Jewish family which lived in a predominately white suburb of Buffalo, New York. My adoptive parents believed that the world should be color blind, so they raised me in the same way as they did their three biological children. My family never addressed the fact that my skin was brown or my hair curly. Nor did they discuss with me social and political issues relating to the African-African community. My parents did not see a need to expose me to Black culture, history, or role models.

However, despite my achievements, I was still exposed to racism. Strangers occasionally hurled racial insults at me, and white parents attempted to prevent their daughters from dating me. Thus, although I was outwardly successful, this period in my life was difficult and confusing. I could not understand how I could be popular at school, an excellent student, live in the same neighborhoods as my classmates, and yet be subject to insults and rejection because of my race. “What was wrong with me?” I wondered.

For a greater understanding of the potential harms, before you go and adopt a child who looks nothing like you and your biological children, you should read his entire paper at the linked article title above.