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The racial double standard

It really irks me when people say we’re “post-racial” or “colorblind” now that Obama is president, because it’s obviously not true. If you need convincing, here’s a good example:

“As a black father and adopted white daughter, Mark Riding and Katie O’Dea-Smith are a sight at best surprising, and at worst so perplexing that people feel compelled to respond. Like the time at a Pocono Mountains flea market when Riding scolded Katie, attracting so many sharp glares that he and his wife, Terri, 37, and also African-American, thought “we might be lynched.” And the time when well-intentioned shoppers followed Mark and Katie out of the mall to make sure she wasn’t being kidnapped. Or when would-be heroes come up to Katie in the cereal aisle and ask, “Are you OK?”—even though Terri is standing right there.”

Why is it okay for white couples to adopt children of different race, but not vice-versa? White couples seem “humanitarian,” while black couples are mistaken for kidnappers. People glorify Angelina Jolie and her Gotta-Adopt-’Em-All strategy, but what if Tyra Banks did this with different races from underprivileged places around the world? …Ok, Tyra’s a horrible example since she’s full of crazy, and the idea of entrusting her with multiple children scares me. But I digress. There’s a part of me that hopes beyond hope that this can be chalked up to statistics. That is, there are far more white couples adopting black children than black couples adopting white children, so people see it as an anomaly. Unfortunately, I think that’s just wishful thinking. I’m pretty sure the dirty looks wouldn’t go away even if the adoption rates evened out.

Comments

  1. says

    Josephine Baker and her Rainbow Tribe.

    So a black person can adopt multi-ethnically. They just have to be rich and famous to not get backlash for it.

    Oh. And live in France. They have to live in France.

  2. says

    Josephine Baker and her Rainbow Tribe.So a black person can adopt multi-ethnically. They just have to be rich and famous to not get backlash for it.Oh. And live in France. They have to live in France.

  3. says

    I disagree with Robert above; racism is fairly ingrained in our basic nature. It crosses cultural boundaries, and is, in fact, standard issue across cultures. Bottom line, we’re hardwired to think that people who look different than us are inimical, and people who look similar are part of our community.

    Doesn’t make it right, or okay, or anything like that. But it’s one of the baser, more depressing aspects of human nature. It happens among chimps, it happens among cetaceans, and it happens with good ol’ H. sapiens sapiens.

  4. says

    I disagree with Robert above; racism is fairly ingrained in our basic nature. It crosses cultural boundaries, and is, in fact, standard issue across cultures. Bottom line, we’re hardwired to think that people who look different than us are inimical, and people who look similar are part of our community.Doesn’t make it right, or okay, or anything like that. But it’s one of the baser, more depressing aspects of human nature. It happens among chimps, it happens among cetaceans, and it happens with good ol’ H. sapiens sapiens.

  5. says

    I hate to double post, but something just occurred to me that I thought might be relevant.

    My dad has told me this story of him growing up in rural Illinois. He grew up in a fairly small town, which was almost entirely white. He was out with his father one day (he was 10, 11, 12, around there), and saw a black man for the first time in his life. He asked my grandfather, “What’s wrong with that man?” My grandfather responded, “That’s a black man. There’s nothing wrong him him, his skin is just darker” (paraphrased). If my grandfather had responded, “That’s a black man. He’s probably a criminal of some sort,” my dad would probably be a racist today. Thankfully, he is not. In that sense, I would argue that racism is human nature, while a lack of racism is culturally ingrained. But a lack of racism is something that society should strive to ingrain in all people within it. Robert’s post led me to believe that he thinks racism simply something that culture brought about, and I think that’s incorrect. Racism is something that culture has to potential to stamp out, but stamping it out requires culture to stigmatize it. It’d be nice if people were born race-blind, but we’re not. It’s ingrained in us (hopefully) later in life, and it’s important to ensure that it is. To do or hope otherwise leads to situations like Jen’s post.

  6. says

    I hate to double post, but something just occurred to me that I thought might be relevant.My dad has told me this story of him growing up in rural Illinois. He grew up in a fairly small town, which was almost entirely white. He was out with his father one day (he was 10, 11, 12, around there), and saw a black man for the first time in his life. He asked my grandfather, “What’s wrong with that man?” My grandfather responded, “That’s a black man. There’s nothing wrong him him, his skin is just darker” (paraphrased). If my grandfather had responded, “That’s a black man. He’s probably a criminal of some sort,” my dad would probably be a racist today. Thankfully, he is not. In that sense, I would argue that racism is human nature, while a lack of racism is culturally ingrained. But a lack of racism is something that society should strive to ingrain in all people within it. Robert’s post led me to believe that he thinks racism simply something that culture brought about, and I think that’s incorrect. Racism is something that culture has to potential to stamp out, but stamping it out requires culture to stigmatize it. It’d be nice if people were born race-blind, but we’re not. It’s ingrained in us (hopefully) later in life, and it’s important to ensure that it is. To do or hope otherwise leads to situations like Jen’s post.

  7. says

    BorgHunter is pretty much dead on.

    Just to add something: we have plenty of subtle racism today (as compared to overt/classical racism) People that say we are “post-racial” are right in a sense that overt racism is pretty much gone, but completely wrong in that racism still exists in fairly inconspicuous ways.

  8. says

    BorgHunter is pretty much dead on.Just to add something: we have plenty of subtle racism today (as compared to overt/classical racism) People that say we are “post-racial” are right in a sense that overt racism is pretty much gone, but completely wrong in that racism still exists in fairly inconspicuous ways.

  9. Scott says

    I wouldn’t be so quick to call this example racism, or at least mean-spirited racism, if there is a difference.

    The reality is, a black couple adopting a white baby is extremely atypical. When me and my wife were looking into adoption, I was shocked to get an actual price list for different color (US) babies. The darker the baby, the cheaper it was to adopt. It was classic supply and demand, very few white babies to adopt and an abundance of black ones.

    Given that information, I find it odd that a black couple wouldn’t adopt a black baby. Nothing at all wrong with what they did, but I can imagine myself seeing this couple and having the same thoughts as the people above.

  10. Scott says

    I wouldn’t be so quick to call this example racism, or at least mean-spirited racism, if there is a difference. The reality is, a black couple adopting a white baby is extremely atypical. When me and my wife were looking into adoption, I was shocked to get an actual price list for different color (US) babies. The darker the baby, the cheaper it was to adopt. It was classic supply and demand, very few white babies to adopt and an abundance of black ones.Given that information, I find it odd that a black couple wouldn’t adopt a black baby. Nothing at all wrong with what they did, but I can imagine myself seeing this couple and having the same thoughts as the people above.

  11. says

    Scott, read the article. They didn’t go out of their way to adopt the kid, circumstances kind of led her to them.

    And like I said – I’m pretty sure even if it became super common, people would still freak out about it.

  12. says

    Scott, read the article. They didn’t go out of their way to adopt the kid, circumstances kind of led her to them.And like I said – I’m pretty sure even if it became super common, people would still freak out about it.

  13. says

    I'm trying really hard to come up with something to say about this. I've really got nothing. It's all been said better anyway.

    I don't like the urge to reach for the flask at 10:00 AM, though. <.<

  14. says

    I’m trying really hard to come up with something to say about this. I’ve really got nothing. It’s all been said better anyway.I don’t like the urge to reach for the flask at 10:00 AM, though. <.<

  15. Scott says

    With the point I was trying to make, it doesn’t matter how they got the child. I’m just trying to look at it from the other side where otherwise good people can do bad things. If this kind of adoption does become common place or even slightly more common than it is now, I don’t think they would get the reaction they got.

    It’s also not my direct intent to defend the people, maybe they are racist hick bastards and didn’t like the idea of a black couple having a white baby. Those kind of people, sadly, probably aren’t going away anytime soon.

  16. Scott says

    With the point I was trying to make, it doesn’t matter how they got the child. I’m just trying to look at it from the other side where otherwise good people can do bad things. If this kind of adoption does become common place or even slightly more common than it is now, I don’t think they would get the reaction they got.It’s also not my direct intent to defend the people, maybe they are racist hick bastards and didn’t like the idea of a black couple having a white baby. Those kind of people, sadly, probably aren’t going away anytime soon.

  17. says

    Nature vs. Nurture: Irrelevant distinction if Nature is mutable. Also a bit silly, given your example: If racism were natural, then your father would have hated that man because he was a different color. He had no exposure to a member of another race, so drew the inference that all people are white, when they are not. This doesn’t mean he was a racist before his grandfather told him otherwise. It means he was ignorant, as children tend to be.

    Also, I agree that racism is far from dead. Those who live in a “post-racial” world are usually white protestants who don’t have very much contact with African Americans, and understand that bigotry is based upon some flimsy arguments.

    I would point to the recent Facebook quiz that’s been going about: “How Black Are you?”. To test the quiz, I answered that I disliked education, wanted to be a rapper (from choices like “Doctor”, and “Lawyer), liked koolaid, and only ate KFC. Results: 100% black. Major fucking bullshit that isn’t fun or funny at anytime — except, perhaps, at a klan rally.

  18. says

    Nature vs. Nurture: Irrelevant distinction if Nature is mutable. Also a bit silly, given your example: If racism were natural, then your father would have hated that man because he was a different color. He had no exposure to a member of another race, so drew the inference that all people are white, when they are not. This doesn’t mean he was a racist before his grandfather told him otherwise. It means he was ignorant, as children tend to be.Also, I agree that racism is far from dead. Those who live in a “post-racial” world are usually white protestants who don’t have very much contact with African Americans, and understand that bigotry is based upon some flimsy arguments.I would point to the recent Facebook quiz that’s been going about: “How Black Are you?”. To test the quiz, I answered that I disliked education, wanted to be a rapper (from choices like “Doctor”, and “Lawyer), liked koolaid, and only ate KFC. Results: 100% black. Major fucking bullshit that isn’t fun or funny at anytime — except, perhaps, at a klan rally.

  19. Nell says

    White-looking child of black mother here. Once, I was in an oral surgeon’s office discussing an expensive medical treatment. A nurse came in to get our financial informatio; my mother had stepped out. The nrse and I had a nice conversation about my school and the proceedure. Once she saw my mother, she became quite skeptical about our ability to pay for the surgery and recommended that maybe we see other doctors in the area. It happens.

  20. says

    I agree with you in principle, but I wish you wouldn’t say that white couples who adopt children of different race are seen as humanitarian. When my white family adopted my two black sisters, we lived in Georgia, and my parents actually lost friends over it. I’m sixteen now and my sisters are nine and ten, and we do get odd glances when we’re out and about. I’ve even had people who refused to believe me when I said that I was my sisters’ sister.

  21. Recovering-Ranter says

    As with many issues, I don’t think there’s a simple answer that addresses all scenarios… racism is no different. Following on what’s posted above, clearly, there’s some support for the ‘nature’ impulse (possible hard-wiring) of racial identification and momentary pause in our psyches (e.g. any animal noticing differences between itself and others that are visually more ‘different’ than it’s closer relatives, likely does so at a primal level – without judgements). More significantly, though, there’s clear support for arguments of ‘nurture’ (socialization) as a source of racism (we can teach hate or love). It seems to me that it’s always been there at some level and may always be, to some degree. And it’s certainly not one-way, either — from personal experiences I can even attest to so-called ‘reverse-racism’ being alive and well, so this isn’t just an issue of one group ‘oppressing’ another one. I would suggest that it’s up to those who think, so work more toward socializing any consideration of race it into becoming a non-issue (instead of the polarizing one it often is now). I certainly don’t claim to have the silver-bullet for this issue, but I think it’s safe to say that dwelling on political-correctness and on demonizing people for not wholeheartedly embracing every action or goal of every person from another race (or risk being labelled ‘racist’) doesn’t help us get there… in my humble estimation that only seems to highlight perceived differences and create MORE of an us-versus-them mindset — one which seems to be taking greater hold, now, instead of dwindling as most of us would like to see.

  22. Reforming-ranter says

    Nature might highlight visibile differences to us, but it’s up to how we live and act (and what we treat as being important) that drives where we go from there. As mentioned, there’s not great answer here… but I do think that the attention we give things can have the effect of both making us think in good directions (when we ask ourselves questions), as well as of giving credence to the notion that such visual differences are worth noting and differentiating (and unintentionally implying that valuation by those criteria is somehow valid). It’s worth noting that, sometimes, the attention we give a topic can have the opposite effect that we’re hoping to achieve.We can engender color-blindness through our actions (arguably more effectively than through hyperbole). Case in point – having grown up in NON-color-blind environments, my wife and I were awed, years ago, by our daughter who toiled for a very long time to try to describe a fellow student to us, one day. She could not think of a thing about her friend that was unique enough to help us identify who she was talking about. It wasn’t until much later that we realized she’d been talking about the only black student in her class. When asked why she hadn’t thought to mention it, she replied that she didn’t get how that could have helped, because, since all of us have different skin colors, she wouldn’t have known how to describe her friend’s particular hue. While she’s clearly got an artist’s eye, the fact remains that she never considered skin color as a way to categorize someone – it never entered her mind. THAT is the direction we need to strive toward…. terms like ‘acceptance’, ‘integration’, ‘tolerance’, etc. all served a purpose at one time – but now they only seem to codify differences that we should, instead, just stop noticing. Instead of the impassioned/politically-charged responses of today, we’d be better served if questions of race were met with blank stares.

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