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Archive for April, 2009

Parental Privilege

An interesting “article-about-an-article” appeared in Racialicious today. The author analyzes Nicole Sprinkle’s essay in the New York Times, where she discusses raising her own White/Colombian daughter. Sprinkle displays a disturbing level of white privilege, openly wishing her daughter would disinherit her Latina heritage. (I won’t elaborate on this, as Sprinkle’s essay is rightly ripped apart by Thea over at Racialicious, and in many of the comments on the original NYT page). While vaguely acknowledging the reprehensibility of these attitudes, Ms. Sprinkle defends them as her “parental right.”

What a nightmare. I’ve heard White parents spouting this crap when they discuss adopting Asian or Black children, who then grow up with upsetting racial identity issues of their own. I remember some distant cousins, who would surely be incensed to hear of my upcoming interracial marriage, making fun of bi-racial kids on sight, calling them “confused.” My mother says she disagrees with Whites adopting black kids for this very reason, citing instead the problems black couples have when they attempt to go up against the adoption industry. She has a point. But there are too many unwanted & mistreated kids in this world. There are bi-racial kids who can grow up with a clear sense of who they are.

I guess I’m glad I’ve thought about this, because now, here I am about to walk down the aisle with a White man. We plan to have children eventually, and if that doesn’t work out, we’ll certainly consider adoption–interracial, international, domestic, etc. Obviously, no matter what we choose, we’ll be facing some of these issues.

I believe they’re similar to issues any minority parent faces, but somehow magnified: How to give the child a sense of identity? With which race will she identify most? Will either of us be offended if our child doesn’t identify with us? Will he feel left out if she ends up being very dark? How will I feel if she is very light? I know how to be black. I’m an expert! But my child, my Black/White child, will inhabit a world incredibly different than my own. What will that mean for us?

It is not, as Ms. Sprinkle asserts, my “parental right” to foist my identity on my child without examining my motives. It is, however, my obligation to examine my own biases and flaws, and do the best I can.

“Silent Invasion” [Every economic crisis needs a scapegoat]

This NYT article (from this Sunday’s edition) made me terribly upset.

The story is about a town in Texas and its mayor’s struggle with the issue of immigration. Apparently, the Hispanic population has soared, and the whites, no longer the majority, are feeling “invaded.” The article points out that Mayor Geary has “hispanic friends” (citing his favorite waitress and a co-worker, sounding eerily like all those racists that say, “I have black friends! One of them cleans my house”), but also engineered the city’s unprecedented “Hispanic Round-up,” where anyone who seemed illegal was taken away–even legal immigrants. The phrases that stuck out for me were:

“Silent invasion”

“Anyone who comes across the border should be shot” (This one met with applause) !!

“They don’t have any culture”

“Good old boy”

“Us”

“Them”

This whole paranoia & hysteria is Jim Crow all over again, but with a dangerous new economic “justification.” What a nightmare.

The comments reflect similar ignorances, with people saying to “take back America” and using the familiar “Go back to Africa Mexico” rhetoric. Also jumping into the fray are a few self-hating Latinos and legal immigrants, and a few logical voices suggesting some sort of compromise that doesn’t involve skin color or language.

My new catchphrase is, “What is wrong with everybody?” I say this all the time.

Only skinny white girls get married?

Photo by Kate Headley

Photo by Kate Headley

Two issues for the title of this post: One is that I have been diving head-first into the bridal marketing industry, and it is terribly vicious. It’s difficult being a part of a process that excludes me so easily.

It’s easy to see how people get swept up in the emotional aspect of it all. I’ll scream if I hear the phrase, “It’s your special day” one more time! Hopefully, I’m savvy enough not to fall for the unscrupulous vendors. One reason I might be able to avoid the rampant materialism and “Bridezilla” marketing tactics is that the bridal industry isn’t actually marketing to me.

The other is that I have been looking up photographers for my wedding, and since I am a photographer myself, am very particular. I’ve been looking at high-end photographers in my area, and I’m sorry to say that few of them have ever photographed any black people. It’s not a simple matter of getting your camera exposures right (although that’s a minor factor) but also, marketing your services to blacks. All the beautiful weddings I see feature almost exclusively White or Asian brides. Even if a photographer has included Black weddings, they are usually not prominently featured on his/her blog or website. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks and I have nothing but questions.

Why aren’t we represented in Bridal marketing? Where am I? I am TIRED. Doesn’t the “wedding industry” want our money, too? Do they not believe we will pay them? I know black people spend money, so it’s not like we wouldn’t pay if we liked it enough.

Looking at the advertisments, one would think that only skinny White girls get married. Or, is it just that Blacks & Hispanics do get married, but don’t hire high-end photographers worthy of being featured in any “Real Wedding of the Week” features? Where are we?