Tag Archives: parenting

From a Mixed Race Child: Tips for a White Parent

By Special Correspondent Thea Lim

The other day in convo with a friend, I burst into tears when he mentioned a couple he knows who are in the process of adopting. As a Korean couple, they have been discussing the potential race of their baby and whether or not having a Korean child is a priority for them.

My reaction was pretty over the top. Maybe it was because I was tired and stressed. Maybe it was because it was close to 4 p.m. and I hadn’t talked to anyone except my cat that day, and I don’t deal well with isolation. But the truth is on an ordinary day, when I hear parents talk about choosing their child’s race, or the politics of having a child of a different race, I immediately clench up.

My mother is English and Irish, and my father is Singaporean Chinese. Neither of them are particularly involved in radical race politics, and I will never know what or how they thought about having mixed race children before my sister and I were born, because (at least at this point in my life) I am afraid to ask them that question.

I often imagine that their thought process was similar to that of Nicole Sprinkle. In her article for the New York Times Magazine, Sprinkle talks about being the white mother of a white/Colombian daughter*:

When I was pregnant, the thought of having an “exotic” looking child based on our combined genetics – Jose’s inky black hair, dark eyes, and round face coupled with my waspy, delicate looks and tiny build – hadn’t really occurred to me.

Sprinkle talks about how this attitude changed after the first time she and her husband experienced discrimination as a mixed race couple:

Would her choices of where to live or travel be compromised by her looks? Or would her mixed genes work in her favor? Not being quite Hispanic-looking enough to make her a victim of racism, but enough for, say, college scholarships? Maybe she’d walk through different worlds at will, be whoever she needed to be for any situation. Nice in theory, but the idea of conveniently shifting identities to protect or promote herself left me cold.

One of the first posts I wrote for Racialicious discussed mixed race parenting, and I remember being quite moved by a comment Abu Sinan made:

Thanks for the article. As a father of two bi-racial children I try to understand as much as I can about the issues they are going to face here in America.

As the daughter of parents who, for better or worse, never discussed what it meant that my sister and I were mixed race (except to regularly tell us that we were “beautiful” and “special”), I am captivated by parents who want to talk and learn about how being mixed race might be a big deal for their kids, and even further, white parents who can admit that – even though they came forth from their own bodies – their children will have experiences that they themselves can never understand.

Sprinkle goes on to describe her family’s attempt to navigate the hairy terrain of multi-racial experience, and even lovingly accepts the reasons why her husband is hesitant to speak Spanish to their daughter, based on his own experiences of discrimination. Yet despite her initial sensitivity, Sprinkle quickly lost me.

Continue reading

McCain’s VP Pick : Palin and the Politica and Privilege of White Woman’hood/ Mommy’Hood

by Guest Contributor Maegan “La Mala” Ortiz, originally published at Mamita Mala

Last night, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin accepted the nomination to the vice-presidency at the Republican National Convention.

Originally the buzz about Palin, focused on her having a vagina. Her presence was analyzed as a calculated McCain strategy to lure disgruntled, hard core Hillary Clinton supporters.

Then the shift went internal, to her uterus, her identity as a mother to five, the youngest with some form of developmental delay, and a 17 year old daughter, unmarried and pregnant.

So what does this Palin parranda of information and analysis mean to mamis of color, Latina mamis like me? Not surprisingly, nada.

Sarah Palin wants to put herself out there as “every woman”. She wants to be seen as “just your average hockey mom”, and other mommies see themselves and their reality reflected through Palin, except, mamis of color, that is. Continue reading

The New York Times censors adult adoptees on adoption blog

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

Update 11/14 at 10:25 am: Please click here to digg this story so we can bring more attention to it.

Update 11/14 at 7:40 am: Yesterday evening, shady things started happening where the NYT apparently started to add back in some old comments that it had not previously approved. And they’ve now completely shut down comments to the post. Also, check out this comment that Sarah Kim tried to leave, but was not approved. Hmm… I don’t see a thing in that comment that violates the NYT’s comment moderation policy. And yet they still chose to censor her. Meanwhile, a much harsher comment was allowed through – but that came from another adoptive parent, instead of an adoptee. It’s clear whose perspective this NYT blog is pushing.

The New York Times started a new blog this month called Relative Choices, about “adoption and the American family.”

The blog has been met with mixed reactions, especially since many prominent thinkers like Jae Ran Kim who are critical of certain adoption practices were deemed to be “too out there” to contribute. Also, the blog has featured some rather questionable posts written by adoptive parents.

This one, titled Finding Zhao Gu, is an example. Author Jeff Gammage goes all magical thinking on us, with a healthy dose of orientalism and white savior stuff thrown in:

Before I knew there was a man named Ma Guoxing, I imagined his existence.

I wondered what he — or she — might look like, whether he was married or single, had children or not. Most of all I yearned to know the secrets that he, alone among millions in China, held within himself.

Sorry Jeff, but we’re not allowed to tell. No ancient Chinese secret for you!

But yesterday’s post really takes the cake. Writer Tama Janowitz wrote an oh-so-funny post about how all kids hate their parents, so therefore it’s ok to ignore all the critiques that center around race, culture and ethnicity:

A girlfriend who is now on the waiting list for a child from Ethiopia says that the talk of her adoption group is a recently published book in which many Midwestern Asian adoptees now entering their 30s and 40s complain bitterly about being treated as if they did not come from a different cultural background. They feel that this treatment was an attempt to blot out their differences, and because of this, they resent their adoptive parents.

So in a way it is kind of nice to know as a parent of a child, biological or otherwise – whatever you do is going to be wrong. Like I say to Willow: “Well, you know, if you were still in China you would be working in a factory for 14 hours a day with only limited bathroom breaks!”

And she says — as has been said by children since time immemorial — “So what, I don’t care. I would rather do that than be here anyway.”

Wow. Imagine what other you’d-better-be-grateful crap gets said in that household, even as “a joke?” And that deliberately unnamed book that she writes off as a bunch of whining? That’s actually the critically acclaimed Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption.

As if this post itself wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that comments from at least four 13 different adult adoptees and allies critical of Janowitz’s post have not been approved. (Check this post for the latest numbers – Jae Ran is updating every couple hours.) So not only does The New York Times refuse to include contributors who are critical of certain adoption practices, it seems that they won’t even let critical comments through the gate!

This begs the question: just what does The New York Times have against adult adoptees? Why does it believe that adult adoptees’ experiences are just not valid? Somebody over there really needs to read Jae Ran’s How to suppress discussions about transracial and transnational adoption.

For more on the NYT blog, see these posts:

Save one, win valuable prizes
Relative choices?
Nail? Meet hammers.
Racist M/Paternalism at its Best
Whoa. Hey. People — this isn’t ok
Shut Up, Tama Janowitz. Just shut up. And turn in your parenting license while you’re at it.
To Willow Janowitz: You’re not alone….
All The (Adoption) News That They See Fit To Print
A Comment About the Comments
The New York Times: Gatekeeper, Censor
Tama Janowitz, My Canidate for Mother of the Year
Tama Janowitz on NYT adoption blog
Fairness Doctrine
New York Times aka “the Adoption Police?”
censorship on new york times adoption blog
New York Times Adoption Blog Censoring Adult Adoptees
Where are the Outraged Parents here?
New York Times’ Adoption Blog Censors Adult Adoptees
Late to the Party
Surprise – The NY Times is filled with Red Thread Ladybug Arses
NYT Adoption Blog Salts Wounds In International Adoption Community
Adoptees Are Not Your Therapists

Tama Janowitz, let me introduce you to
Dear Tama,
Willow’s day

NYT Relative Choices ~ Adoption & censorship?
“Either Chinese, or some black dude – who can remember?”
Dear Tama Janowitz