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Let us join Nancy French in congratulating herself for saving a baby from the horrific prospect of being raised in Africa. French wrote an article entitled I’m a White Republican Raising a Black Child: Deal With It to raise awareness about how awesome she is.
When I hear this self-congratulatory rhetoric around transracial and/or international adoption, I always pause and think. The self-congratulations typically come from middle, upper-middle, and upper-class heterosexual white families who have adopted a child who is of color and/or born in another country. There is typically lots of applause from other whites for their “good deed”. The assumption being that a middle-to-upper class white upbringing must be superior to other kinds of upbringing, and that by allowing a normally-inferior individual into the white club, a meritorious act has taken place. This is part of what is called the White Savior Complex. It is a relic from colonialism, when whites felt it was their mission to spread across the planet and “improve” the “backwards” races. The colonial mindset is still very present with us, as when this author insinuates adventurism with phrases like: “poverty stricken African tribal area” and their savior status by rescuing a “starving, abandoned girl” from such a terrible place. As I recall from grade school, Africa is actually broken up into political units known as “countries”, but French is kept very busy letting the world know about her good deeds that she can hardly be expected to know unimportant details about insignificant parts of the world.
Then I start to wonder about the big picture. French’s adopted daughter has a biological mother and father. Where are they? Why are they so poor? Why couldn’t they keep their child? Do they have rights? Isn’t there any value to the culture she was born into and taken away from? Why are so many African nations “poverty-stricken”? How are the world’s dominant countries implicated in this poverty?
I just happened upon an article about the struggles of Congolese mothers against the backdrop of political violence: A Congo Mother Survives Cannibalism to Save Her Children: Why Her Photo Matters. Interestingly, the article notes that much of the conflict was instigated by European colonists. Now mothers have to protect their children from cannibalism. If only French could adopt even more African children.
The right to raise your own children is a fundamental human right, and a pillar of the Reproductive Justice movement. Yet it is easier for white Americans to reframe themselves not as colonialists with serious responsibilities to other countries we have impoverished, but as pure, loving saviors who just want to help the children. Do we really have a right to take these children that trumps our responsibility to ensure that all mothers enjoy the right to raise the children they birthed?
Obviously, I am not the first one to have these thoughts. I would recommend further reading, starting with these articles:
The Lie We Love
Black Kids in White Houses
All Your Children Are Belong to Us
Another question that just popped into my head: If French’s daughter had instead grown up in Ethiopia and tried to immigrate to America as an adult to find a better life (the better life that French hopes to offer her by raising her), would French support her access to American residency? Or is it only by fulfilling French’s need to have another child that her daughter earns her right to live in America?
You will find the following video disturbing, if you are disturbed by the sight of policemen beating women and dragging their babies.
This video shows a police attack against immigrant women and children in France who were protesting for access to shelter. They had been camping out in a public space. (The video won’t imbed for some reason. Curse you WordPress!)
Notice how the newscaster frames the story, giving caveat after caveat to caution the viewer not to get too riled up. It was totally justified to beat unarmed women and children who are protesting for housing! The public order was at stake, and come on, these people are simply immigrants of color ruining the French way of life.
Two takes on this video:
Renee at Womanist Musings: It takes Courage to be a Brown/Black Mother in this World
BFP at Flip Flopping Joy: Mama
If you want to throw up in your mouth, read the disgusting comments following the NYTimes coverage. Basically, these homeless women, and not the police, are the ones who used brutality and harmed the children. So the NYT commenters would have it.
Vaseline is offering a Facebook app in India that allows users to whiten their profile pictures on the site.
[...]Now please don’t think Vaseline is doing this to promote white supremacy in India on purely ideological grounds. There’s profit to be made from a racial hierarchy that places white at the top. The Facebook app is part of Vaseline’s summer campaign to promote their new skin-lightening cream…for men.
Jan Brewer, AWESOME governor of Arizona, recently explained on TV some little-known and untrue reasons to hate and fear immigrants:
1. They’ve been beheading people in Arizona.
2. A whopping 87% of illegal border crossers have prior criminal records.
3. The majority of ALL undocumented workers who come to America work as drug couriers for Mexican drug cartels.
She forgot to mention that 96% of “illegal border crossers” are also terrorists associated with Al-Qaeda forming sleeper-cells of Latino crypto-Muslims ready to strike our heartland at any moment, but I’ll forgive her that omission because she is very busy saving real Americans from the brown menace in so many other ways.
The Arizona Guardian did some fact-checking and wasn’t able to verify any of these claims, and since they are part of the liberal media, that only makes me all the more certain that what Brewer says is true.
The Food Paradox: How Obesity Commingles With Hunger in Brooklyn
In Brooklyn’s communities of color, the poor sometimes experience obesity because of lack of access to healthy food. Healthy food can be very expensive, and is often not available at the small bodegas that stand in for the lack of supermarkets. Note: not all obesity is due to unhealthy diet.
362 Dollar Water Bill Costs Black Mother Her Home
Vicky Valentine owned a home in Baltimore with all mortgage debts paid. The city sold her water bill debt to a private company, who, using tax liens, tripled the debt and eventually auctioned off her house to pay for it, putting her and her children on the street. This process is legal, and supported by the Baltimore city government, which defeated a bill to prevent such situations.
Arizona Elementary School (Almost) Whitened The Faces Of Its Own Students On A Mural Because Some Racists Yelled At It
From the Huffington Post:
An Arizona elementary school mural featuring the faces of kids who attend the school has been the subject of constant daytime drive-by racist screaming…
From AZ Central:
A group of artists has been asked to lighten the faces of children depicted in a giant public mural at a Prescott school.
The project’s leader says he was ordered to lighten the skin tone after complaints about the children’s ethnicity. But the school’s principal says the request was only to fix shading and had nothing to do with political pressure.
From Mother Jones:
While creating the mural, “We consistently, for two months, had people shouting racial slander from their cars,” said artist R.E. Wall of the Prescott Downtown Mural Project. “We had children painting with us, and here come these yells of (epithet for Blacks) and (epithet for Hispanics).”
I assume you can fill in those blanks.
Prescott Councilmember Steve Blair said on the radio:
“I am not a racist individual, but I will tell you that depicting a black guy in the middle of that mural, based upon who’s President of the United States today, and based upon the history of this community when I grew up, we had four black families, who I have been very good friends with for years, to depict the biggest picture on that building as a black person, I would have to ask the question, ‘Why?’” (Blair was mistakenly identifying the Hispanic boy on the mural as black.)
Back at Mother Jones:
The school district head and the principal, confronted with a crowd of protesters, made a dramatic about-face and announced by bullhorn that the mural would remain as is. “Miller Valley made made a mistake,” said principal Jeff Lane. “When we asked R. [the artist] to lighten the mural, we made a mistake.”
*My note: “hispanic” is not a race. A person can be hispanic and white, hispanic and brown, hispanic and black. Just saying.
My Daughter, Her Hair, and the Seattle School District
Sez Charles Mudede at the Slog:
…just last week, my daughter—who is 8 and happens to be the only brown person in her Accelerated Progress Program class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary—was ordered out of the classroom because her teacher did not like the smell of her hair. The teacher complained that my racially different daughter’s hair (or something—a product—in the hair) was making her sick, and then the teacher made her leave the classroom. My daughter was aware of the racial nature of this expulsion not only because she was made to sit in a classroom that had more black students in it (the implication being that this is where she really belongs, in the lower class with the other black students), but because her teacher, she informed me, owns a dog. Meaning, a dog’s hair gives the teacher less problems than my daughter’s human but curly hair. Most white people do not have to deal with shit like this. Shit that if not checked and confronted will have permanent consequences for the child.
The lawyer hired by the Seattle school district, if he knows anything, knows that THERE’S NO RACISM HERE!
Any allegations of racial insensitivity or negligence are “wholly untrue,” [Kevin] O’Neill says, “because, well, because the district would not tolerate employment of a teacher that has racial animosity towards a student.”
…However, O’Neill also says he doesn’t know what exactly happened or “the reasons that this child was asked to leave.” Until the investigation is complete, he says, it’s unclear what was offensive about the hair product that reportedly made the teacher sick, why the district hadn’t done anything for three days, whether an incident like this had ever occurred before, whether anyone had spoken to the teacher about the incident, whether school district rules prohibit any cosmetics, or what current or future steps are required for the investigation.
Mudede concludes with:
Feeling the seriousness of this situation, we decided not to send our daughter to school until the teacher had medical proof that our daughter’s hair or something in her hair was to blame for the nausea. (The last thing you want to happen to your daughter is for a teacher to faint or vomit at the mere sight of her.)
Days passed and the school took no action. This unresponsiveness left us with no other choice than to turn to a lawyer.
You preach it, Tim! Look what I found on rad blog Siditty: Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege
Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters–the black protesters–spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government. Would these protesters–these black protesters with guns–be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.
Apparently, I was part of a protest earlier this year against the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities Dance Program, for poor treatment of their students of color.
The protest and the anonymous group who staged it like a guerilla art installation are called THIS. I was posting as idyllicmollusk at the time.
I don’t know what words they chose or why, but it is very powerful to hear that they chose a bit of my writing in their fight. Read through their blog. THIS created some waves. It sounds like they are pretty powerful.
Thank you soulbrother v.2 for this insightful piece. He explains the connection between whiteness being used to convince poor white farmers to stop protesting against rich landowners alongside poor black farmers in the 1800s, and whiteness being used to play working class white people to protest against health care for the poor. (Almost twice as many white people than black people are impoverished in the USA.)
Looking at the debates through a race lens, things like a town hall participant attacking a poster of Rosa Parks and people comparing health care for the poor to white slavery start to make some sense. Very weird sense, but the trail of bigotry begins to come clear.
And yes, the poster-holder specified white slavery. What do you think that’s supposed to mean?
Monica at TransGriot sez the good white folks at the town halls are protesting…
…at the behest of conservative K Street lobbying firms, Faux News, right wing hate radio, HMO’s who want to stay between you and your doctor and continue to make obscene profits off the current broken system and the GOP who gets paid mad loot to thwart any meaningful legislative reform as they’ve done for decades.
Once again you information challenged people are being played, manipulated, hoodwinked and bamboozled again to vote against your own economic interests because you’re ‘scurred’ of the current occupant of the White House.
And Did You Know, “57% of Republicans either believes or is uncertain about the veracity of the “death panel” claim”?
Now, where ever would they get such an idea? Could it in any way be related to the fact that 65% of Republicans believe Fox News is reliable or that:
Even more interesting, perhaps, is how many Republicans only get their info from Fox, as compared to the other cable networks. A surprising 74% of GOPers “never” watch CNN, and an even higher amount, 89%, never watch MSNBC.
“Terrorist fist-jab”, “secret lesbian high school gangs”, birther-movement fueling Fox News. Is. Considered. Reliable by these people.
Sooooo…. is this health care “debate” becoming the 21st century elite’s attempt to divide and conquer the disempowered by race like innumerable incidents in the past? If so, they are showing remarkable success. Of course, there always seems to be enough white people who are eager to find a new excuse to be publicly racist, and politicians seem quite willing to dog whistle them to the fore at the slightest indication they may be useful.
Thanks to Renee at Womanist Musings for being on this.
It appears that some white queers still don’t got their shit together, despite all the discussion about race and the LGBT community that’s being going on around Prop 8. Queerty, a respectable website that at times suffers from an overdose of white privilege, published this image.
Read Renee’s post for good analysis about what’s wrong with Queerty’s appropriation of this image. I just wanted to draw this to the attention of The Czech readers as an expression of solidarity, as I am a white queer person and I want this cavalier appropriation of American blacks’ racial struggles by white queers to STOP.
I am still against Prop 8, but this is not the way to fight it. How can QPOC (queer people of color) feel part of a movement that is so disrespectful of their unique histories?
So what is indigenism, some might ask? I can see that the WordPress spell check is not familiar with the term.
A blog called By Any Means Necessary has an informative post on the subject.
[I]ndigenism is a theory and practice which places the struggles of indigenous peoples for land and autonomy at the centre of its work. Much of the time it also draws inspiration and insight from the lessons of indigenous peoples, such as (in the Americas) values of communality, solidarity, reciprocity, social justice, equality, complementarity and harmony with nature.
Upping the Anti has republished an important Ward Churchill essay on Indigenism, called I Am Indigenist. Notes on the Ideology of the Fourth World, written in 2000.
I have identified myself as being “indigenist” in outlook. By this, I mean that I am one who not only takes the rights of indigenous peoples as the highest priority of my political life, but who draws upon the traditions—the bodies of knowledge and corresponding codes of value—evolved over many thousands of years by native peoples the world over. This is the basis upon which I not only advance critiques of, but conceptualize alternatives to the present social, political, economic, and philosophical status quo. In turn, this gives shape not only to the sorts of goals and objectives I pursue, but the kinds of strategy and tactics I advocate, the variety of struggles I tend to support, the nature of the alliances I am inclined to enter into, and so on.
So go forth and read up! Aboriginal peoples seem to garner little attention in any medium, so here’s a little window if you would like to learn more.
Mayor Dean Grose (R) of Los Alamitos has resigned and stepped down from the city council after forwarding a racist email to coworkers.
Grose claimed he was “unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons,” though, as many bloggers have pointed out, no one can figure out what the “joke” is supposed to be unless you take that stereotype into account.
Los Alamitos businesswoman and city volunteer Keyanus Price, blew the whistle on this behavior after receiving the email from the mayor, making his action public.
“I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes,” Price told The Associated Press. “I honestly don’t even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin’-mayor—come on.”
If you just can’t figure out what the deal is with watermelons, PostBourgie will explain it to you. Thoroughly.
Ah yes, the issue of ‘random’ stops and searches. One of my faves. Nope, no racial profiling here! If the following story bothers you, just repeat “Post-Racial! Post-Racial! Post-Racial!” until you feel better.
The Daily News reports:
A Brooklyn hospital manager says cops have stopped him 21 times since the NYPD began searching subway riders – and there’s no way that’s random.
Jangir Sultan, who is of South Asian descent, says in a new federal suit that the odds of his being stopped randomly that many times is 1 in 165 million.
Well, good for him for standing up and saying he’s not going to take it!
However, Mr. Sultan must be mistaken about this being racial profiling – at least if you ask the NYPD.
Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne said passengers are chosen at random intervals, such as every fifth or 10th passenger, set by a supervisor on the scene.
Quite believable, isn’t it? Interestingly, my white friends who have lived in New York since 2005 (when the ‘random’ stops started) have never been stopped. Ever. Must be a fluke!
The NYPD is on pace to stop and question a record half a million citizens this year – about 80% of them black or Latino, a new report says.
…Commissioner Paul Browne, the NYPD’s chief spokesman, said the number of minorities who were singled out under the policy is consistent with overall descriptions by race provided by victims and surviving witnesses of crime.
WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?? This post-racial racist Paul Browne has directly contradicted himself in these two quotes. If stops and searches are done at random, the racial breakdown of those stopped should reflect the racial makeup of NYC. So if instead, the NYPD have decided to stop people based on other criteria, i.e. since according to Browne they are stopping people based on race and the NYPD’s opinion as to which races are more likely to commit crimes, the NYPD is conducting racial profiling.
It reminds me of when I used to work with Somalis. They reported that their appearance, which comes from a history of African and Arab ancestors (oh no, what a scary, scary combo!), in addition with their Muslim-sounding names meant that they got ‘randomly’ stopped for extended searches and questioning almost every time they traveled by plane. The TSA officers always stressed to them that the stops were ‘random’.
Well, I guess we all now know that random has a new meaning, along the lines of “totally deliberate.”
The first one is up! Check it out. The Czech may or may not make a little appearance on there. Yay, thanks for your work, Renee!
More about the carnival:
“In every sphere of life women of colour are marginalized and exploited. Often, when we attempt to engage to change our circumstances we are silenced. This carnival is our attempt to give voice to our shared issues. We have a strong history of activism and organizing and it is in this vein that we have chosen this space to highlight the various ways we have attempted to carve out a niche in the online world. We shall not be silenced, and our dreams shall be realized. We are women of quality and worth.”
Michael Steele’s election to be chairman of the Republican National Committee is an amazing step in the right direction for the GOP. The man speaks publicly about race, for christssake! But, just as electing Obama president does not mean we live in Postracial Wonderland, Steele’s election does not mean the GOP has solved its racial problems.
Not like you’d get that impression from reading Republican/conservative blogs. Not only are *some* repubs patting themselves on the back and declaring (again) the end of racism, many are crowing about how eager they are for liberals to lob racial attacks at Steele, and, I guess, thereby making all liberals hypocrites, and making the Democratic Party the true bastion of racism.
I suppose that the GOP has spent less time on racial considerations than the Dems. (NOT as though liberals and Dems don’t have plenty of racial problems as well.) Perhaps they are still getting their sea legs on this matter… perhaps nuance will soon enter their discussions on race.
Or perhaps they just think that with Steele and Obama, discussions of race are moot, unnecessary, so over. Like matter and anti-matter colliding. Which is convenient, since the “race issue” seemed to hurt the GOP at the polls moreso than Dems. Of course they want it to be over.
Conservative pundits don’t want anyone to speculate that their sudden willingness to see more blacks in power may have been influenced by Obama’s amazing campaign and decisive victory, and with the changing demographics of America that indicate old-school bigotry is losing ground. Well, those pundits do want liberal pundits to say those things, so that they can turn around and accuse them of racism.
If Obama was an abysmal failure, if Obama lost to McCain, who would have been elected as Chairman of the RNC? We’ll never know. But I still wonder… are Palin and Steele reactions to HRC and BHO, or would Palin and Steele have appeared so prominently on the political landscape without them? Did Clinton and Obama’s popularity and viability shock them awake to a new reality, or were they already grasping that reality, already looking to support more women and POC in their ambitions to advance through the GOP ranks?
I feel like Steele’s leadership is already causing Republicans to address race through their dialogues with one another and personal reflection. If they no longer need a “Southern Strategy” of dog whistles and coded language to pull in votes, if racist whites are a diminishing bloc of little future import, will it be revealed that the racist white bloc was an excuse for subtler racism up top, or an obstacle to anti-racist GOP leaders who simply had to do what was necessary to win?
Here’s some Republican/conservative chatter regarding race:
Television coverage of the inauguration gave me some food for thought. I was on CNN and MSNBC, and I noticed that during the inauguration coverage, both stations chose to display many images of specifically black faces when they showed individuals from the audience listening to the proceedings- something they haven’t done so prominently before.
Obama himself chose a diverse cast of characters to surround the proceedings. Straight white anti-gay mega-church pastor Rick Warren, openly gay white bishop Gene Robinson, black civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery, black poet Elizabeth Alexander, Aretha Franklin, and others.
Apparently, Obama’s identity as an African-American is having major ripple effects in the status of blacks on the national political stage and in less public circles of influence. The Washington Post reported that suddenly, the DC elite are trying to prove their inclusiveness by adding blacks to their party invite lists.
With a black first family in the White House and a diverse group of appointees and Cabinet nominees, the all-white dinner party feels all wrong. Certain hosts are suddenly grappling with a new reality: They need some black friends. Overnight, black politicians, lawyers and journalists are hot properties, receiving engraved invitations from people they never got invitations from before.
It took an extraordinary black man to set in motion this turn of events.
Though she didn’t make the cut, a similar effect can be seen from Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency. She was the only primary candidate party of either party to actually have (slightly) more female campaign staffers than male- the first time this has ever happened, I believe. Several candidates who ran in the primaries had very few women involved in their campaigns at all (Giuliani, Thompson), which has been the norm, historically speaking. It took an extraordinary woman to overcome this imbalance.
I also believe that Obama’s and Clinton’s prominent candidacies in the Democratic primaries had a lot to do with McCain’s choice of a woman for his running mate. He must have been well aware of the nature of criticisms he would receive if he picked yet another elderly white man after the Democrats managed to produce an unusually diverse pool of candidates. I do not believe Palin was picked *only* because she was a woman- she clearly appeals to part of Bush’s “base” that McCain didn’t appeal to. However, I think he and his advisers knew that they had little chance if they couldn’t show the tiniest bit of diversity on their ticket.
From the above, we can see that prominent, powerful, and visible members of traditionally-oppressed groups in society have an enormous ripple effect upon American society. It makes me wonder if an extraordinary individual from a traditionally-oppressed group who manages to achieve prominence against all odds doesn’t have a greater effect on societal inequality from above than careful work at the grass roots level to slowly build equality (gender, racial or otherwise) and to slowly encourage candidates to run at local, then state, then federal level. It seems like a lot of problems that “bottom-up” organizations face are instantly improved, if not ameliorated, when an extraordinary individual reaches prominence.
But is it fair or strategic to wait for an extraordinary individual, someone who is not only intelligent, charming, and ambitious, but who can overcome the extra disadvantages of membership in an oppressed group and who is ready to bear the burden of equality not just for hirself, but for hir entire demographic? Even if the ‘extraordinary individual’ scenario moves the fight for equality along faster than the bottom-up approach, it requires submitting ourselves to pure chance.
You know what this makes me consider? Quotas. 99 countries already have quota systems in place for positions of political power, including countries from Sweden, South Korea and Poland to Palestine, Tanzania, and Kazakhstan. I am aware that India has quotas not only for women, but for disadvantaged castes. Could quotas work here?
Could it be a way to move faster than the bottom-up approach, but yet without depending on the occasional appearance of extraordinary individuals to carry much much more than one person’s burden? I.e. can we simply force fairness?
Your opinions are welcome.
Holy…! It happened! I was growing concerned that this issue wouldn’t be taken seriously, but it seems as though it has, thanks to protesters, media coverage, and my fellow bloggers! Read this post to catch up on the story if you haven’t been following it.
The police officer who shot Mr. Grant while he was lying face down on the ground was apprehended in Nevada and arrested on suspicion of murder.
[Johannes] Mehserle was arrested in the New Year’s Day shooting of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old supermarket worker from Hayward who was lying facedown after being pulled off a BART train by police investigating a fight. An Alameda County judge signed an arrest warrant alleging murder, and Mehserle surrendered without incident, authorities said.
…Mehserle declined to speak to BART criminal investigators after the shooting. Then last Wednesday he resigned rather than answer questions from BART’s internal affairs division.
Also from the article: “Some Oakland community leaders and civil rights activists said the case is symbolic of larger problems with police officers using excessive force on young black men. Grant was black and Mehserle is white.”
Oh really? Let’s look at some other incidents that also occurred on New Years Day.
The curious case of Adolf Grimes:
A young, black man in New Orleans is dead, slain by police officers on New Year’s Day, in an incident that has outraged a community and triggered protests over what family members are calling a “murder.”
Read more details about the murder of Adolf Grimes at CNN.
And the shooting of Robbie Tolan:
The family of a young black Texas man who was shot in his own driveway by a white police officer believes that racial profiling was the cause and are asking for criminal charges to be filed against the officer.
According to family members, Robbie Tolan and his cousin were returning to Tolan’s home in the mostly white Houston suburb of Bellaire in the early hours of December 31, when they were approached by officers who suspected the SUV they had just gotten out of was stolen.
Tolan’s parents, who own the SUV, came out of the house to explain the situation. An altercation ensued and Tolan’s mother was thrown against the garage door by an officer. According to Tolan’s uncle, “Her son was on his back at the time, and he raised up and asked, ‘What are you doing to my mom?’ and the officer shot him — while he was on the ground.”
The CNN story.
Systematic problem? Naaaaaah. /snark
Unless new evidence surfaces during Mehserle’s trial, [Alameda County District Attorney Tom] Orloff said, it is being treated as a homicide. “Murder charges were filed because at this point, what I feel the evidence indicates is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act, and from the evidence we have, there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder.”