Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tangent Time!

I'm still doing the series on Gandhi's seven social sins, but I stumbled across something at Racialicious recently that I just had to write about.

Please read about a little girl namedKatie O'Dea."

Katie is a lovely little girl. She has quite a few friends, a loving extended family and vibrant social life. Katie is also white with black parents. Not mixed or bi-racial, but white. Katie, who was adopted by a black social worker, is just plain old white, and her guardians are anything but that.

What a fascinating look into our racial mindsets in Obamerica.

Katie and her guardians' story is told in a recent Newsweek article, that's actually fairly random. I mean, the article claims to be discussing the reality of "post-racial" America, and it also delves into interracial adoptions, but at its core it's just a profile of an interesting family.

A very interesting family.

Katie's mother was a prostitute and she spent time in several foster homes because of some emotional problems. Finally, a 64-year old black social worker, who had previously spoken against interracial adoptions involving white parents and black children, decided to adopt her. She is now raising the little girl with the help of her daughter and her daughter's husband, who are like surrogate parents for the little girl.

If you all read the article, you will see that it's not easy for a black couple, or a single black man, to walk the streets with a little white girl. The black family recounts several tales of being stopped by strangers who thought they were kidnapping the poor little girl, or being disrespected by other folks who couldn't understand what they were doing with a little white girl. The article's author seems to be trying to dispel the notion that Obama's election has solved this country's race problem, at least that's what I got from it.

The best part of the article is how it discusses the different attitudes Americans have that make us look askance at a black family caring for a white child. Wait, scratch that. The article discusses how strange it is to see blacks caring for a white child, FOR FREE.

After all, black folks have been caring for white children since Plymouth Rock landed on us. Lol. We've been "mammies" and butlers and maids and midwives since we got to this wonderful country. White folks would have died out long ago if black folks didn't know how to care for white babies. Hell, some us of have taken better care of white folks children than we have of our own.

Yet, as the article notes, when this black family is out on the town with a little white girl, all hell breaks loose. I think it's mainly because the interaction between the daughter and her black parents doesn't have the vibe that folks are used to seeing when minority adults and white children are together.

When parents are interacting with their children, they discipline them more obviously, and in more creative ways. Good parents are unlikely to appear subservient to their kids, and it would be difficult to confuse their mannerisms with those of a nanny.

Consquently, quite a few white folks are perturbed that some big black dude is acting like he's in charge of a little white girl. It probably just strikes folks as wrong, as a perversion of the natural order of things. While there is an argument to be made that some of these folks are just being prudent, I wonder if these same folks would have the same reaction if they saw a white couple, or white man, with a little black girl?

Would they still feel the need to protect the little girl? Would they assume she's in imminent danger, and would they aggressively question her about her parents? Would those same folks even care about the fate of a little black girl?

I'm going with not likely. It's a well documented fact that the lives of little black girls are not as important as the lives of little white girls. Moreover, it's equally documented that black people are "dangerous."

Therefore any black person near a young white girl should be viewed with suspicion, and that suspicion should morph into fear and concern if the aforementioned black person appears to be in a position of dominance. Black people should not be dominating white children. It was the main problem behind school busing and it's the main problem Katie O'Dea's family faces everyday.

The article, while missing the mark in some respects, was an interesting look into a world that many of us often talk about. How many times have we said "I bet this wouldn't happen if I was (insert race.)" With the story of Katie O'Dea's family we get yet another answer to that question, and a first hand look at the reality of interracial adoptions from an unfamiliar vantage point.

Unfortunately for black folks the view probably seems pretty familiar.



Deacon Blue said...

There's that small part of me that says, "Why invite such trouble upon yourselves with so many ignorant folks out there."

And then I remind myself, they SHOULD be able to do this, and they shouldn't have to deal with all the crap that comes along with that decision.

The world's an effed-up place in so many ways...

Big Man said...


I often have the same reaction. And, like you, I have to remind myself that I should have to change my life because of other people's hangups.

For example, I'm growing my hair out again into dreadlocks. This is guaranteed to cause problems for me in the city I live in.

Now, one school of thought says I should leave my hair short and just avoid the hassle. However, I've decided that my hair is not the problem. The problem is people who stereotype folks because of their hair.

Deacon Blue said... Mrs. Blue has been locced for some years now. Where we live, people insist on asking "how do you braid your hair that way?" LOL

MODI said...

Interesting case indeed. Since the social worker was previously against interracial adoptions by white parents, perhaps a small part of her was intrigued by finding out what the public reaction would be if the roles were reversed. This is not to say that she doesn't fully love her child, only that she may have wanted to make a useful point along the way.

T.A.N. Man said...

Interesting article ... better discussion. I figure most folks just enver expect to see non-white adults adopting white kids. Mainly because their under the opinion that a white kids in inherenly better off that the non-white adult adopters. What can you say, it's the world we live in.

Raving Black Lunatic