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What about the President?

I’m sure there isn’t a bride of color anywhere in the US who wasn’t affected by the idiotic comments of Justice Keith Bardwell of Louisiana, about two weeks ago.

Having dealt with racism in its various forms my entire life (from the very overt to the completely subconscious), I am not at all shocked by these types of views. I am, however, disappointed and annoyed, for all kinds of reasons.

I have a strong suspicion that Bardwell’s comments about interracial children are just a cop-out, a  half-assed attempt to justify what is nothing more than blatant racism. After all, what if the couple in question turns out to be infertile? What if they decide to adopt? I just think these statements are too clueless and “See? This is for the greater good!” to be true. They just don’t make enough sense.

First of all, blacks have a long history of accepting mixed-race children… after all, nearly all of us who are African American (that is, descended from slaves) have some race mixing in our history. Yes, there are a few blacks who (often justifiably) worry for the well-being of a mixed child, mostly due to the racism they’ve experienced themselves. But really, how out of touch do you have to be to realize that some of the most famous Blacks in America, rightly or wrongly, are mixed-race themselves? And, it bears pointing out, there’s the President! Wasn’t he voted in by Americans of all races? More evidence, to me at least, that Mr. Bardwell is severely out of touch.

I just think Bardwell is a racist. I also think he is not alone.

When my (white) fiancé was born, interracial marriage was still illegal in 17 U.S. states. No one needs to point out the ugly legacy of racism that we still deal with on a daily basis. If anything, Mr. Bardwell is a reminder, to me and to anyone else entering into an interracial marriage, that it won’t be particularly easy all the time, and that we (and our “mixed” kids) will have some idiots to deal with.

A Sucker for the Bridal Industry

Bride WarsSo my coffee table is *covered* with bridal magazines (and one issue of Fitness). On the mantle, on display, are the gorgeous bargain earrings I picked out. I have hundreds of Internet “favorites” in a folder marked, “Wedding.” Oh no! The industry’s gotten to me!

It was only a matter of time. I am an unabashed romantic. I love love, I love the fact that I’m going to be married, and I’m excited that I am lucky enough to be able to plan a wedding, and most importantly, I love my fiancé.

When it comes to the wedding industry, I generally think it’s perfectly okay to be romantic, enjoy “girly” things, and revel in bridal excitement. I think I can do these things and still be thoughtful and intelligent about it; all aspects of planning a wedding aren’t evil (though the industry as a whole can be) and I enjoy many of the traditions & symbols inherent in weddings.

That said, this weekend I watched two horrible products of the wedding industry and actually enjoyed them! (gasp!)

I watched Bride Wars, which by many accounts, is a terrible movie. It could have been a good satire, and passed up a chance to be an intelligent commentary on such things as the nature of womens’ friendships, the bridal industry, and how wedding planning affects relationships with your fiancé and how we perceive ourselves. And it missed on all counts! The movie is a nightmare. Horribly inconsistent, completely impossible storyline, and inane drama. (Although Anne Hathaway is excellent, as always). And still, I watched it–twice! (For the record, my favorite aspect were the depictions of the friendship between the two women; this, I thought, was relatively well done.)

Also tonight was the premiere of the newest season of “Bridezillas.” Am I completely insane? “Bridezillas” is terrible! I swear, those women must be coached, or maybe paid under the table. But I still watch it. And unfortunately, also the “10 Best Bridezilla Moments” that aired before it.

This show is particularly awful; it perpetuates horrible stereotypes, most notably the White Trash stereotype, but also the “Oh No She Di-in’t” Angry Black Woman stereotype and, new for this season, the fiery hot-Latina stereotype. It’s particularly cruel. And still, I watch. The women are abusive and mean — and fascinating. Most of the time, I turn the show off in the middle because it’s so awful. But I still patronize it. Horrible!

What does it say about women when we buy into the Bridal Industry? Are we all, no matter how intelligent & thoughtful, susceptible to the Wedding Industrial Complex? And, why, much to the chagrin of the feminists, do we treat marriage as an exclusive club to which we have FINALLY gained admission?

In other cultures, the wedding preparation is a time of reflection, when a bride gets together with other women and prepares for the next stage of her life. Fully acknowledged are the different emotions inherent in such a change: sorrow for the bride leaving her family; a sense of mystery about the marriage bed; the anticipation of starting a new life & family. These emotions are still felt, despite Americans’ best attempts to hide them, and I wonder if our bridal-planning stage is our expression of that.

Categories: family, marriage, media

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.

Rachel Getting Married [And She Needs a Therapist]

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I saw Rachel Getting Married, and I agree with critics that it’s a well-done film–just DON’T SIT IN THE FRONT ROW. We were sick for two hours after the film, due to the horribly shaky camera work. (A Steadicam, please!)

Anne Hathaway is great as Kym, the addictive “star” of the family, whose erratic behavior threatens to upstage Rachel’s wedding. The film is great, but I love that it highlights that the addict isn’t by herself in her problems. The whole family suffers from whatever makes Kym who she is. The film is especially brilliant in its depiction of these themes without beating viewers over the head with them.

I’ve known a couple families of addicts, and everyone seems to act like it’s “their” problem, to be hush-hushed about and rarely discussed. This is the biggest lie there is. There are all kinds of dynamics at work, from the “star” relishing his/her “addict” role to the other family members who get off on being the “healthy” ones. I also see this every time I watch “Intervention” although admittedly, I don’t watch it very often. After the episode where the mom regularly served drinks to her alcoholic daughter, that was it for me, really.

Hopefully the newer, more enlightened approach to addiction treatment recognizes a need to treat the *whole family,* not just the addict.

Categories: family, television Tags: ,