How many times do I have to tell you people it's not ignorance????

Lord, it's been a while since I've done one of these.

First, let me begin with a story.  Back when I worked in children's mental health, a young white girl was referred to me because she'd called a young black girl "nigger". These were kindergarteners, mind you.  Now, the principal explained to me that as it happened, the young black girl was a foster child whose temporary foster mother was white, and when that woman found out this happened, she marched right over to the white girl's mother's car, loudly knocked on the window and demanded, "Could you step out of the car, please?"

I'm telling you this story because a white mother of two adopted Asian daughters recently started a discussion about the shit people say to her and to her daughters.  She writes, "I have tried to explain to my daughters that people do not say these things to be mean, they say them out of ignorance, which is why I am sharing some of them. Words are powerful, they can become tools or weapons, choose to use them wisely."

She then presents several images of her daughters holding quotes of some of these verbal weapons, and I've borrowed just a few to illustrate my point:

Not my kids, so naturally...faces cropped out.

Ignorance is defined as a "lack of knowledge or information" (Source).  So when we say someone did or said something ignorant, we're really saying that they just didn't know better.

Yeah...right.


People know exactly what the hell they're saying when they talk like this to a white parent with adopted kids of color, especially when the child is from another country.  They know what they're saying is rude and racist and they know it's hurting the child's feelings.


They also know that the average white parent of such children is not going to break up with them, or kick them out, or permanently cut ties with them, or loudly bang on their window and ask them to step out of the car, or any of a number of things they should do when someone pulls a stunt like this.  In short, they know fully well most white parents won't do shit.

That's why they are comfortable enough to approach these families and casually utter these blasphemies towards their children, because they know no one is going to break a foot off in their ass.


Now, this mom is obviously trying to do shit, and she's doing it on a large scale, not just in her personal life. Her images have thousands upon thousands of views and comments; she's gotten other parents of adopted children (as well as adopted kids themselves) talking and sharing similar experiences, so I am not dismissing what she accomplished, not by a long shot. This mom actually did something; she didn't just "try".

The only thing which raises my eyebrow is the notion of telling kids it's ignorance.  It's not, and we have really got to stop saying that.  We have to stop telling kids of color they need to be the bigger person, to kumbaya-ya and MLK-away the hate.  This is how we breed cowardice and docility; this is why a lot of POC who grow up in this country don't know how to assert themselves or even respond when they're being racially abused.

When someone cuts you off or cusses you out in traffic and you let it go, that's being a bigger person.  When someone racially abuses you and your child and you tell your child that person "just doesn't know any better" and "isn't trying to be mean", you are setting your child up for a lifetime of hurt.  You are teaching them to tolerate, to accept racial abuse, and you are confirming that racial abusers have immunity.  Instead of contributing to a future without racism, you're preserving white supremacy.

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Comments

  1. The fact that an adult can even fix their mouth to say such rubbish speaks volume. Those words piss me off and they are not directed at me. You say something like this to mine whether biological or not, you will have a serious problem on your hands.

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  2. Leo Princess3/2/14, 6:55 PM

    I agree. I've felt for a long while that the world 'ignorance' was being incorrectly applied to creatures like these. This isn't ignorance. This is callous, intentional disrespect. One of the photos had something to the effect of, "You know they send them over here to be spies, right?". Tell me how that is ignorance in the 'they don't know better' sense,

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  3. Ignorance is a horrible euphemism. It's like saying these people just never learned the appropriate manners, like it's wrong because it's a faux pas that hurts people instead of actual evil, actual violence and abuse.

    -LittleRaven

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    1. LittleRaven? You're still alive????

      *hugs*

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    2. Very much so! *hugs back* Thank you for the sweet reception.

      I've been lurking; it's how I started on the Internet and every so often I slip back into it.

      - LittleRaven

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  4. Now please forgive me, and feel free to shut me down if I have offended. But I wonder if this conversation would’ve taken place had this white woman not adopted children of color? It seems that when whites are fortunate enough to experience the slings and arrows of racism they want the whole world to experience their indignation, as if it racism never happened before they experienced it. Remember its always different when it happens to them. Maybe this woman erroneously assumed that some Asians in this country had attained honorary white status and was therefore unprepared for the visceral reaction she experienced. Maybe this is why this mother of two is proactive now. Nevertheless, I believe for any white person to become involved in the fight against Racism the word has to affect them on a deeply personal basis or there is no motivation to be true to the cause.

    Still, even during a conversation about race the focus remains with the white parent. It is their hurt, and their feelings of loved-ones being othered (and by extension them) that becomes central to the narrative, because now the shoe is on the other foot. Having a child of color suffer racism only gives whites a taste of what non-whites go through, so it must be tempting to turn the conversation into a pity-party with the custodial parent being the guest of honor.

    “…she's gotten other parents of adopted children (as well as adopted kids themselves) talking and sharing similar experiences, so I am not dismissing what she accomplished, not by a long shot.”

    She’ll be lauded for her effort I’m sure, but what if this happened to a black woman and her two daughters? What would be the public reaction if two little black girls held up similar signs detailing their oppression? How many would simply write them off as overreacting to something that probably wasn’t even about race? Such is the dichotomy of race relations in this nation that people will be drawn to the white woman’s victimhood but simultaneously wax apathetic to her black counterpart. When a white person adopts children of color they’re portrayed as courageous, oftentimes their personal journey takes precedence over that of the adoptee. Her story is everywhere and she’s even incorporated these children into her artwork. You’ll notice I’ve shied away from using the word Exploit.

    But judging by her personal photos she appears to be a civil war buff, now I could be wrong for asking this, but I wonder what side she rooted for? It’s amazing to me how diligently people will fight to preserve the romanticized history of the civil war , yet ignore the matter of slavery altogether. But I digress.

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    1. But I wonder if this conversation would’ve taken place had this white woman not adopted children of color?

      Yes, because the point of this post is the repeated improper use of the term "ignorance" when a term like "sociopathy" is more appropriate. Like I said in that post almost 4 years ago, I believe white people first put that term in social circulation as a backdoor/loophole/whatever to worm their way out of - or outright derail - honest discussions about race.

      I actually don't care about the woman's feelings. I care about the kids' feelings when their mother turns to them and tells them how they should think and feel about the racist who's verbally abusing them rather than promptly putting the good foot in said racist's ass. Every time I see white parents with adopted kids of color, my mind automatically wonders what special hell those children may or may not be enduring.

      The fact that this woman is telling her children that people who talk to them like this are "ignorant" and not "trying to be mean" is hugely problematic for me; I'm just trying to be a diplomat about it because I am borrowing pictures of a specific person's children and linking directly to her Facebook. So out of respect to the children who call this woman Mother, I'm trying to go easy on this one.

      Now, while her methods and motives may be suspect, the mom did get a discussion going, and to be honest, I learned some new shit from those pictures because while I recognized a few of those statements, a lot of them were new and more appalling than I initially imagined.

      At the end of the day, I don't like white people adopting kids of color period because IMHO 99.9999% of them haven't the slightest clue what they're doing, are unwilling to make certain necessary social sacrifices, and too many of them lack pure intent. And far too many of them are willing to casually dismiss the crucial fact that this country has it out for children of color, and that by taking a child out a predominantly POC nation and into a formally white supremacist society, they are doing that baby zero favors. 'Cause Lord knows there's not enough money in the world to cure racism.

      Furthermore, I'm glad countries like Korea (for example) are finally trying to get their children adopted by families at home rather than shipping them off to white people in the West, because that bullshit needed to end yesterday. But it while it's easy to criticize the cultural stigmatization of orphans and single mothers, we must also appreciate that countries like Korea are not America, and they do not cosign the prospect of an exploding fatherless child population. But that's a different rant for a different day.

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    2. Maybe this woman erroneously assumed that some Asians in this country had attained honorary white status and was therefore unprepared for the visceral reaction she experienced.

      Years ago, I watched an episode of Sex and the City in which Charlotte was trying to convince her husband to adopt a Chinese baby because she was infertile. Something always stuck out to me; it was the scene where she's listing the benefits/pros/whatever and she says, "And we're both dark-haired, so people won't know right away that she's not ours."

      I'm also glad you brought this up because it's most definitely a factor. A lot of these white parents assume their whiteness - which we all know they're not "ignorant" of - will extend to their brown children by default. In fact, some are so convinced they actually (subconsciously) think of their kids as being white. Ergo, they fail to make peace with their child's brownness before they sign those papers.

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    3. "I'm also glad you brought this up because it's most definitely a factor. A lot of these white parents assume their whiteness - which we all know they're not "ignorant" of - will extend to their brown children by default. In fact, some are so convinced they actually (subconsciously) think of their kids as being white. Ergo, they fail to make peace with their child's brownness before they sign those papers."

      Dearest, you hit the nail squarely on the head. A clear and sobering observation, for by failing to come to grips with their child’s brownness and all that it evokes in a racist society; they’re are setting the child up for hurt that could have been avoided had they quelled the urge to be saviors. But they’re only thinking about Themselves when they sign those papers aren’t they. Much respect.

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    4. I'm also glad you brought this up because it's most definitely a factor. A lot of these white parents assume their whiteness - which we all know they're not "ignorant" of - will extend to their brown children by default. In fact, some are so convinced they actually (subconsciously) think of their kids as being white. Ergo, they fail to make peace with their child's brownness before they sign those papers.

      Case in point They have an adoptive daughter as well.

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    5. Leo Princess3/2/14, 11:01 PM

      "Maybe this woman erroneously assumed that some Asians in this country had attained honorary white status and was therefore unprepared for the visceral reaction she experienced."

      I believe this article fits well here.

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    6. "In fact, some are so convinced they actually (subconsciously) think of their kids as being white. Ergo, they fail to make peace with their child's brownness before they sign those papers."

      From Asian-Nation: Adopted Asian Americans
      "Sociologists Jiannbin Lee Shiao and Mia Tuan recently completed a study about various aspects of this issue and in particular, on the parenting styles of parents who adopted from Korea. They found that parents dealt with the racial differences between themselves and their children by using one of three approaches:

      1. Emphasizing the Exotic: objectifying their children or showing them off as if they were an exotic pet.
      2. Active Acknowledgement: recognizing the importance of race and racism in America, encouraging discussion, and careful observation if their children encountered any racially based problems
      3. Colorblind: overlooking, ignoring, or pretending racial differences did not exist.

      This third approach was the most commonly used one. Within this colorblind approach, many adoptive parents consciously or unconsciously feared that acknowledging racial differences might interfere with the process of integrating their child into their family and their community. Many adoptive parents also did not have the skills to cope with the racial differences between them and their children and used this strategy by default because they were uncomfortable dealing with racial matters. Such parents were basically surrounded by Whiteness their entire lives and had little if any familiarity with other groups or cultures other than their own."

      This is so sad... but of course you nailed it.

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    7. M. Gibson said "Case in point They have an adoptive daughter as well."

      -- Thank you so much for bringing that up the couple you linked to in particular, because they're the first thing that came to mind while reading this post. It further reminds me of a 2008 movie I remember watching in the past called "Gigantic," about a single man adopting a Chinese baby. And by the end of it, I could only ask "why on earth would he do that??"

      I mention it both because it popped into my head after seeing "single mothers" mentioned above... and because, being years ago, I reacted the way I did despite being much younger and having, at the time, never put much thought into the aspect of racial relations when it came to adoption. But even so, it stood out because it seemed so strange. Just on a basic, rudimentary level, you know? (Perhaps there's something wrong with that?) Which makes me wonder why these parents (apparently) don't feel something similar to the degree that they'd at least be better prepared enough to know that, as said before, dismissing racial abuse is a detriment and disservice to the very children they believe they're saving from horrible lives.

      Ankhesen Mié said "At the end of the day, I don't like white people adopting kids of color period"

      -- Likewise. I must admit, that over the years, it's irritated me to hear things like Angelina Jolie's growing family, for example. Or to watch that travesty of a show called "Jessie" on the Disney Channel with my younger relatives who absolutely love it (it's about a rather rich, white couple who have adopted children from various nationalities and ethnicities but who can't seem to ever be around to actually take care of said children; instead, they're pretty much left to do whatever they want, but that's another story). I won't even go into the painful viewing experience that is "The Fosters" on ABC Family.

      Honestly though, indeed, this happens far too often. And the frequency of it does nothing to lessen how disturbing it is and feels to watch and experience first hand. Fantastic job with this Ankhesen, and great comments you guys. I love reading what everyone has to say.

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    8. “Which makes me wonder why these parents (apparently) don't feel something similar to the degree that they'd at least be better prepared enough to know that, as said before, dismissing racial abuse is a detriment and disservice to the very children they believe they're saving from horrible lives.”

      From Okmagazine:
      Look At That Smile! The Little Couple Shows Off Adorable Son In New Photos! "Their dream finally came true when they were matched with baby "Ben" from China—the little boy was initially given a fake name on camera to protect his confidentiality—now known to the world as Will Klein."

      Very good point. Notice the first thing they did before boarding the plane home was to strip the child of his ethnicity, giving him a good White Christian name. This will start him off on the right foot no doubt. You know he (Bill Klein) opened a pet accessories shop in 2012. Sometimes I think this Tiny Couple’s two acquisitions are nothing more than unique breeds of exotic pets; something to show off- garnering empathy and attention.

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  5. "At the end of the day, I don't like white people adopting kids of color period because IMHO 99.9999% of them haven't the slightest clue what they're doing, are unwilling to make certain necessary social sacrifices, and too many of them lack pure intent. And far too many of them are willing to casually dismiss the crucial fact that this country has it out for children of color, and that by taking a child out a predominantly POC nation and into a formally white supremacist society, they are doing that baby zero favors. 'Cause Lord knows there's not enough money in the world to cure racism."

    Love the response, beautifully stated. I don't like it either and that's what made me cringe in the first place.

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  6. So much to be said here, but you all covered it.

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  7. That one about buying a nice car instead of adopting the child hit me right in the pit of my soul. What kind of disgusting excuse for a human being do you have to be to even THINK that let alone say that to a child. Seriously, wtf?

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  8. Never mistake for ignorance that which can be explained with malice. Because when it comes to racist white folks, it's almost always malice.

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    1. Not to mention it's the smug,self-satisfied malice which comes from knowing they won't experience any consequences.

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  9. Something tells me that this mother thought that it would be smooth sailing dealing with Asian children because of their Model Minority status. Maybe she thought that she wouldn't have to deal with the racial baggage that..say African-Americans have to deal with.I guess that she was more than wrong about that.

    Though Im for adoptive kids to be in nurturing, structured and loving families from my race, my biggest concern for some is the racial nurturing they made need to have to cope in a racially hostile world. Most White people cannot walk in our shoes because they haven't experienced the bad as well as the good.

    It may be harder to a minority,but I would rather be who I am than to always take the easy way out of life . Easier doesn't always mean better. In the case with the White mother, she seems to not to have the proper skills in handling non-White kids. Sure, minorities may get spat on but at the end, we come off strengthened, wiser and better educated about the real world. I see being a minority as a plus and not a minus.

    No, her daughters wasn't exposed to ignorance, it's just outright racism...something I hate to say, White people don't want to mention. Im sorry ,as long as she has minority kids, she cannot beat around the bush pretending that everything is kum-ba-yai. Unless she lives without magazines, TV or radios and don't live on her own island, there was no excuses for what those racists did to her daughters.

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  10. Ignorance? Naww, we gotsta put them coloreds in their place. Show 'em who's baws. That includes them young 'uns.

    "In short, they know fully well most white parents won't do shit."

    When I was lurking around the white "nationalists" (supremacists-in-denial really) forums, a recurring theme was the white race being too docile for their own good, spineless, beaten down by the so-called PC brigade; in short behavior that puts them at risk of being overwhelmed by "them muddies" (exact words)

    Frankly, privileged and insensitive bunch that they are those ytfellas are, that WS belief kinda rings true. Leastway that's my two cents on the matter.

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