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Posts Tagged ‘marriage’

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.

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.

Surprise, Surprise: Being Gay Doesn’t Make Marriage Any Easier

Photo copyright 2008 Fred R. Conrad for NYT.Today’s NYT features an article on the state of gay marriage, 4 years after it was first available in Massachusetts.

The couples interviewed sound completely normal. Some people got married because they could, others thought it would solve problems in the relationship, some got divorced, and there’s the typical “one partner wants marriage, the other doesn’t” situation. And there are one or two couples who are committed to making marriage work for them and are relatively happy.

What did people think would happen? Are straight people so out-of-the-loop on gay life that it takes an article to remind us that gay marriage and straight marriage are basically the same, with the same issues? Marriage is hard for everyone–a nightmare when it doesn’t work, a blessed miracle when it does.