Home > discrimination, family, race relations > Parental Privilege

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.

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