Tag: mixed race

June 18, 2007 / / Uncategorized
June 14, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by guest contributor Kay Olson, originally published at The Gimp Parade

Back in March the story of the Andrews family of Long Island came to public attention. The NY Daily News announced “What a mess, baby: Parents say fertility clinic botched in-vitro & girl’s got the wrong dad“.

[Note from Carmen: Racialicious covered it too.]

The story came to public notice in March because a judge ruled the couple can precede with their medical malpractice lawsuit but disallowed the claims of mental suffering — the parents’ suffering and baby Jessica’s suffering for being a different race than her parents. There’s a lot to unpack here and The Nation‘s Patricia Williams took a stab at it:

What’s distinctive about the Andrews case is that the parents… tried to cite… Jessica’s pain and suffering for having to endure life as a black person. The Andrewses expressed concern that Jessica “may be subjected to physical and emotional illness as a result of not being the same race as her parents and siblings.” They are “distressed” that she is “not even the same race, nationality, color…as they are.” They describe Jessica’s conception as a “mishap” so “unimaginable” that they have not told many of their relatives. (Telling the tabloids all about it must have come easier.) “We fear that our daughter will be the object of scorn and ridicule by other children,” the couple said, because Jessica has “characteristics more typical of African or African-American descent.” So “while we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her…each and every time we appear in public.”

Since the claim of mental distress of their child hinges on appearance and public perceptions of skin color, Williams comments on the family’s photo:

The picture underscores the embedded cultural oddities of this case, the invisibly shifting boundaries of how we see race, extend intimacy, name “difference.” According to the Post, Mrs. Andrews is “Hispanic” and apparently, by the paper’s calculations, one Hispanic woman plus one white man equals “a white pair.” The mother is “a light-skinned native of the Dominican Republic,” seeming to indicate that while she may not be “white,” she’s also not “black.” Each narrative implies that if the correct sperm had been used, the Andrewses would have been guaranteed a lighter-skinned child. But as most Dominicans trace their heritage to some mixture of African slaves, indigenous islanders and European settlers, and as dark skin color is a dominant trait, it could be that the true sperm donor is as “white” as Mr. Andrews. But that possibility is exiled from the word boxes that contain this child. Not only is Jessica viewed as being of a race apart from either of her parents; she is even designated a different nationality–this latter most startling for its blood-line configuration of citizenship itself.

Paul Butler at BlackProf discusses the race issue as well.

If I understand the legal situation correctly, the parents’ claim of mental suffering is essentially a “wrongful conception” or “wrongful birth” claim and their suit on behalf of Baby Jessica’s mental suffering is a “wrongful life” claim. New York state, where the case resides, has precedence in these situations, which Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam cited in her ruling. Regarding the “wrongful birth” claim: Read the Post Race as disability: an update on fertility clinic mixup case

June 1, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious guest contributor Luke Lee

“Who’s doggy’s daddy? A DNA test can determine the breeds that make your mutt”

Making its way to the very front page of Yahoo! on Monday night was a video and a news article about a DNA kit which, as the folks at Yahoo! so eloquently put it, is able to tell dog-owners the different breeds in their “mutt.”

Now, I realize that we’re talking about dogs here but the word “mutt” is one that makes me wince no matter what the context. And though the word, when talking about dogs, is in supposedly a completely canine context, I don’t think it’s in an entirely different context without any sort of implications of cultural attitudes that carry over to the ways in which our society sees and talks about mixed race folks.

The most glaring aspect of the word and it’s popular usage when it comes to dogs is that people, dog-owners just don’t know what the dog is which results in the “mutt” description. There’s nothing wrong with this because god knows that a lot of dog-owners don’t know what their dog is but at the same time, many dog-owners do know very well. “Mutt,” to me, implies very much a sort of hairbrained “I don’t know. It’s just a bunch of everything thrown in there. I lost track” which is fine if people want to talk about their dogs like that, if people want to talk about themselves like that but its lackadaisical presence in the way people talk about race and in this case, dog breeds, fosters a sort of “don’t know so reduce it down” attitude. Don’t get me wrong, people should identify however they want to and if someone identifies and calls themselves a mutt “because it’s simple” then that’s great for them. However, as the word has the overriding suggestion of a lack of knowledge when it comes to one’s background, it’s not the most sensitive term to be flinging around at least when it comes to real people. I know this isn’t a perfect comparison, but it’d be like if I proudly told people I was “Oriental” and preferred the term over “Asian” or “Asian American.” If I did then that’s my business but it would inevitably give people the idea that it’s an OK term to use when describing Orientals Asian Americans. And also, I’m not saying that dog-owners who use the term are somehow insensitive and subtly racist when it comes to issues of race but rather the culture in our language perpetuates the idea that mutt=potpourri and if to be mixed is to be a mutt then to be a mutt means to not know what you are (and not care) which I don’t think is remotely the case for many, many mixed people. Read the Post Why the word “mutt” makes me wince

May 29, 2007 / / Uncategorized

by Racialicious special correspondent Wendi Muse, originally published at The Coup Magazine

“It was completely trivial” said a spokeswoman for Iberia Airlines’ new ad. I suppose that should be expected, but it never ceases to amaze me that some people consider the degradation of historically oppressed groups as “trivial,” “fun,” or “just a joke.” Maybe that’s because our society has a history of accepting stereotypes as truths, so veiling them in humor is its feeble attempt to disguise the simple fact that it can’t distinguish between one or the other. It may also be a result of the belief some hold that we are all equals and treated fairly. If this condition of equality is a given, then debasing one group or another is not expected to cause harm, embarrassment, or any real long-term affects. Maybe Spain’s national airline felt that they were engaging in harmless fun, simply teasing their colonial little brother Cuba, but not everyone shared Iberia’s interpretation. Ruben Sanchez, a spokesperson for Facua, a Spanish consumer rights group, found the commercial to be sexist and generally offensive to Cubans. Facua called for the advertisement, which is part of a set of commercials for Iberia’s website, to be pulled. Iberia complied. They apologized, stating that the ad was not meant to offend anyone, and removed it from television on May 16th. But considering that someone had thought up the commercial and allowed it to air in the first place, the damage had already been done.

When I saw the ad for the first time, I thought beyond sexism. Before me was a representation of women of African descent that has somehow lasted for more than three centuries. I saw an animated articulation of the remnants of European colonial dominance over a Caribbean nation and its women. There was so much to take in from such a short clip that I wanted to slow down and think about it in parts. I watched the video again, this time in silence. After muting the volume, I began to mentally catalogue the images I saw. Before the clip commenced, a tableau appeared of a fair-skinned baby in a rocking chair surrounded by two brown-skinned, dark haired, large lipped women frozen mid-dance, holding maracas and wearing bikini tops with Daisy Duke cutoff shorts. Once the video unfolded, it seemed. . . fairly harmless, but three things stood out to me:

1. The color contrast between the baby and his adult playmates.
Both women featured in the commercial have brown skin, one a shade slightly darker than the other, and the men who provide musical accompaniment for the commercial are also varying shades of brown, from light to dark. This contrast is common in tourism advertisements, particularly those in Europe and the United States (with the exception of the recent Bahamas vacation ads). The tourist is almost always white and the “natives” are always brown, black, or yellow. Last time I checked, people of color also go on vacation, but maybe advertising executives don’t want to confuse the consumer audience by featuring them as tourists alongside people who look just like them. Funny enough, this never seems to be a problem in white-on-white ads encouraging people to go to European countries. Read the Post A Daycare Called Cuba: Iberia Ad More Than “Sexist”