By: Amy Wise
You probably thought this story was about me after reading the title didn’t you? Guess again. This one would be about Tatiana and the assumptions that are made when strangers see us together.
Tatiana drove to school, pulled into the parking lot. We both got out of the car and said goodbye. I hopped into the driver’s seat, and drove away. Someone who obviously doesn’t know her very well came up to her and said, “I didn’t know you were adopted.” Tatiana replied, “Um, I’m not.” The guy just looked at her like she didn’t know what SHE was talking about, “Oh.”
This isn’t the first time I have written about this, nor I’m sure, will it be the last. However, when “confusion” arises as to who I am, the comment normally is, “I didn’t know your Mom was white,” NOT “I didn’t know you were adopted.” This frustrates me. When you carry someone for 9 months, have 20+ hours of labor, and raise her for 16 years, you want to be able to say, “Yes, this child is mine!”
Now for those of you who know me well, or have been reading my stories for a while, you know that I am an adopted child myself. So why does the comment this boy made to my daughter irritate me? I love my mom with all my heart, so I don’t know why it bugs me to hear someone ask if my child is adopted. Is it all the hard work I put into the pregnancy and labor? With all the grief I gave my mom during my teen years, she actually deserves an award for that work! (Not even the months of pregnancy and hours of labor compare to the grief I caused my mom during those years. We will leave it at that for now.)
You would think I would be used to these “mom” questions by now, but I’m not. My kid is my kid. Period. I’m very proud and protective of my family so when someone tries to change the reality, I get a little “buggy.”
The funny thing is, nobody ever questions Jamie and Tatiana when they are out and about. What’s up with that? She is a mix of the two of us in looks and color, so why don’t they question him? Is it because he is big, and black, and scary, and they don’t dare? Or is it simply because she is brown and so is he, so there is no question? Hmmph…I’m still bugged.
I wonder if that’s why I’m so passionate about writing for The Next Family and for my blog, The Many Shades of Love. I love my family so much and when anything about them is questioned, I tend to go a little “mama bear”.
So just to clarify: No, she’s not adopted. Yes, I am white. Yes, her Dad is black. All clear? Good. I feel better now.
This past Friday was a beautiful crisp Fall night in San Diego. Our daughter Tatiana was out of town taking dance classes in Vegas and Jamie and I had the weekend to ourselves. Friday afternoon, I announced, “Let the adult weekend begin!” Of course everyone’s minds went straight to the gutter! We however “got out of the gutter” and decided to go to dinner and then to Fashion Valley Mall for a stroll. Fashion Valley is an outdoor mall filled with beautiful high end stores and lovely Christmas decorations. Not Jamie’s cup of tea at all, but we both decided it would be nice to walk around and enjoy the night air after dinner. As we got out of our car and started walking toward the stores, a man walked by us (this man so happened to be black) and said, “Oh lordy, lordy, it’s a black man with a white woman!” Mind you, he said this loudly, pretty much at the top of his lungs. Jamie and I looked at each other and just laughed! Normally I would have been offended, but the way he said it just struck us as funny for some reason.
Well, it didn’t stop there. He literally watched us, and kept making comments as he waited for the elevator. He went on to say, “Aaaand it’s a black man, with a white woman, at a white mall, oh lordy!” White mall? I’m not sure where that came from because everyone and their “brother”, no pun intended, shops there. He repeated the black man/white woman thing a couple of more times. By now the comedy had worn off and he had become irritating. Jamie said, “Really…” and then gave him a look that changed the guy’s tune. He said, “Aw, it’s all good man, you and your wife have a nice night together.” It was the weirdest thing.
What makes someone say things like that out loud, and not only that, but what makes them think it’s okay? Would he ever say that to a couple that wasn’t mixed? Picture it: “Oh lordy, lordy it’s a white man with a white woman!” I guess it’s just not as catchy huh? It’s funny to me that someone feels the need to “point out” our race to us. Clearly I know I’m white, and clearly Jamie knows he’s black, and CLEARLY we know that we’re together! But gosh, just in case we weren’t sure…thanks for pointing that out Mr. Man! We “appreciate” it! By the way…let me point out to YOU, if you haven’t looked at your calendar lately…it’s 2010, not 1910.
Maybe I should have said, “Oh lordy, lordy, it’s a black man that needs to keep his opinions to himself.” We all know what they say about opinions now don’t we? ‘Nuf said, especially by you, Mr. Man.
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
By: Amy Wise
As with everything, there ups and there are downs. Life will always throw us curve balls, but now I finally realize it’s up to us whether we decide to hit the ball and run or miss the ball and strike out. These days I’m goin’ with hitting and running…big time! Even though we are still in the midst of all the crazy things life keeps throwing at us, I’m determined to live, to love, and to make today and tomorrow better than yesterday! The past is the past, the present is precious, and the future is fabulous! Yeah I know, corny, but it’s oh so true!
My life and my family’s life is at a big crossroads right now…I can feel it in my bones. It’s an exciting feeling that’s hard to explain. We all have big plans for the future and even though roadblocks keep trying to get in our way, we are refusing to let them slow us down. The hurdles used to stop us, but now we are running towards them, and not only that, we are jumping over them!
It’s weird because we are in the worst financial predicament of our lives, because this damn water lawsuit continues to suck us dry (kind of ironic…water…sucking us dry); however, we are moving forward with our lives and letting the b.s. take its own course while we plot ours. There are no circumstances that can stand in our way unless we let them. Man oh man, it’s taken a lot of tears, sadness, grief, prayer, meditation, and yes, even therapy (there’s no shame in my game…therapy rocked!), to realize that we have a right to our happiness and nobody can take that away from us! It’s funny because when this water thing went down, one of the other plaintiffs in the case said to me, “It makes me so sad because they took your happy away.” Shortly after that, my husband said, “One of the reasons I married you is because you are one of the strongest people I know. I never thought I would see the day that someone else could take your strength away; you can’t let them do this to you.” Those two comments about my “happy” and my “strength” really hit home. Sometimes it’s small things, said by those that care about us, that can make the biggest impact.
So here I stand today, strong in my marriage and family, determined to make every single day a good one! Make no bones about it, there are days…oh there are days…you know what I mean…days when you are just done! Burnt friggin’ toast!
But, now I’ve got my happy back, and my strength back. I pray about what I want, I visualize what I want, and I claim what I want, because that, my friends, is how I now roll!
Amy Wise is a Writer in San Diego.
You can read more at www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com
By: Amy Wise
Okay ladies, this one’s for you. Since my last post about our “friend” that has issues with white women and black men, all sorts of conversations have popped up…some good, some bad. I’m a little discouraged…okay, a LOT discouraged that this is even a conversation. Ladies, c’mon on now! Aren’t we all in this together? Women are supposed to be there for each other, not fight against each other. We are supposed to be there through thick and thin, laughter and tears, good and bad, boys to men, men to men, and more men…right?! Why do we want to “dog” each other, when we should totally be there for each other? It’s beyond me. I want my “sisters” to be happy, to be successful, to thrive, to find love, to find their passions, and to live their dreams! I want it for me, AND I want it for you. Really! I don’t care if you’re black, white, brown, purple or green. If you’re a good person, you deserve good. If you’re a bad person, I hope you can turn around and “get that good!”
It’s crazy, because in the midst of all these conversations and emails, I was out and about and found the perfect piece of art (the pic above) that totally says everything I’m feeling. It’s by artist Kelly Rae Roberts, and it’s called “Sisters at Heart.” I HAD to have it because it speaks to my writing about interracial love, it speaks to how I wish the world was, it speaks to how I truly feel, and it speaks to how I want ALL women to feel. Let’s lose the negativity ladies, and wish each other well. In the end aren’t we all just sisters at heart?
Amy Wise is a Freelance Writer in San Diego.
You can read more on www.themanyshadesoflove.blogspot.com
New Survey Finds Infertility Delivers a Serious Blow to Self-Esteem
Women Say Infertility Makes Them Feel Flawed While Men Say They Feel Inadequate
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Jan. 21 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Struggling to get pregnant can be a serious blow to the self-esteem of both women and men, according to a new national survey. Seven in 10 (71 percent) women said that infertility makes them feel flawed, while half of men (50 percent) say it makes them feel inadequate. Infertility also has a big impact on a couple’s relationship, with half (53 percent) saying they find themselves trying to hide their feelings from their partner. The survey of 585 women and men was conducted in September 2009 by GfK Roper on behalf of Schering-Plough; Schering-Plough and Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE:MRK) merged on Nov. 3, 2009.
“Couples undergoing fertility treatment clearly experience a rollercoaster of emotions,” said Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director, The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, Boston IVF. “The desire to start a family is a strong one, and failing to achieve that can impact everything from the marital relationship to interactions with future grandparents and friends who become pregnant.”
In a signal that the stress of infertility can lead to isolation, about 6 in 10 couples (61 percent) stated they try to hide their fertility troubles from family and friends. One-third (34 percent) say their ability to confide in others has decreased since they began trying to get pregnant. In fact, 54 percent of all couples agreed that it was easier just to tell people that they were not planning to have children, rather than admit to their struggle.
Disbelief a common issue
The majority of those surveyed never imagined that they would experience infertility. Two-thirds (65 percent) said that prior to trying to conceive, it never occurred to them that they may have trouble getting pregnant when they wanted to. More than half of couples (51 percent) agree that they may have waited too long to try to become pregnant. Of the survey respondents currently being treated by a fertility specialist or reproductive endocrinologist, 91 percent wish they had started doing so sooner.
While the survey found that both women and men understand the link between a woman’s age and fertility, they often do not fully understand how soon a woman’s fertility begins to decline significantly. According to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a healthy 30-year-old woman has about a 20 percent chance per month of getting pregnant, but by age 40, her chance is only about 5 percent per month.(1)
“Although an estimated one in eight couples of childbearing age struggles with fertility problems, patients often say they never thought it would happen to them,” said Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., director, Center for Reproductive Medicine, NY-Weill Cornell Medical Center. “Couples need information so they can understand their fertility risk factors, and they need to seek treatment from a specialist quickly if they suspect a problem.”
Relationships with family, friends become strained
Infertility can also have a negative impact on a couple’s relationships with family and friends. More than 6 in 10 couples (63 percent) say they get tired of people asking them how the process is going, or offering suggestions on how to conceive.
“Couples undergoing fertility treatment often turn inward and stop confiding in family and friends because of the pain involved in talking about their struggle to conceive,” said Barbara Collura, executive director, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association. “It’s important for couples to know that extensive resources exist to support them throughout the process.”
Many couples also expressed frustration about receiving unsolicited advice. Most often, couples who receive unsolicited advice are told to just relax and stop worrying so much (78 percent), followed by health advice like changing their diet (42 percent), getting more exercise (41 percent) and getting more sleep (38 percent).
“Deciding how much information to share with family and friends and when to share it is a challenge for couples dealing with infertility,” said Ken Mosesian, executive director, the American Fertility Association. “Many couples respond by closing themselves off, so it is important for families and friends to be sensitive and listen instead of offering advice.”
Intimacy and relationship affected by infertility
More couples agreed that their difficulty getting pregnant has brought them closer together (58 percent), as compared with those who say that it has hurt their relationship (36 percent). Women praise their partners for being supportive, with more than 8 in 10 (84 percent) saying that their partner either makes or attends medical appointments. For those women who have used injectible fertility treatments, 86 percent say that their partner has helped them with injections.
However, both sexes indicate that the stress and tension in their relationship has increased since they first started trying to get pregnant (42 percent of men, 36 percent of women). Men were also more likely than women to say the time spent arguing with their partner has increased (36 percent of men, 26 percent of women).
The struggle to conceive also takes a toll on intimacy. More than half of all couples (55 percent) report that infertility has made sex a physically and emotionally anxious time. In addition, 53 percent of couples say infertility has taken the fun and spontaneity out of their sex life, and more than 4 in 10 (43 percent) report feeling sexually unattractive.
Full survey results are available at www.planforsomeday.com. About the survey
A total of 585 people who are in a relationship and who were having difficulty trying to conceive over the past two years were interviewed from September 1-14, 2009. The 585 respondents were made up of 326 men and 259 women. Women interviewed were between the ages of 18 and 44. Men interviewed could be any age, so long as their partner was between the ages of 18 and 44. In all cases, either the woman or both partners had the fertility problem.
The survey was conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, a division of GfK Custom Research North America, on behalf of Schering-Plough; Schering-Plough and Merck & Co., Inc. merged on Nov. 3, 2009. Respondents were from online panel sources in the United States.
The following steering committee provided guidance on survey development: Alice D. Domar, Ph.D., executive director, The Domar Center for Mind/Body Health, Boston IVF; Zev Rosenwaks, M.D., director, director, Center for Reproductive Medicine, NY-Weill Cornell Medical Center; Barbara Collura, executive director, RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association; and Ken Mosesian, executive director, the American Fertility Association.
Infertility is a disease or condition that impairs the body’s ability to perform the basic function of reproduction. It is often diagnosed after a couple has not conceived after one year of actively trying, while women over the age of 35 are encouraged to seek diagnosis and treatment for infertility after six months.(2) More than 7.3 million Americans, or one in eight couples of childbearing age, struggle with fertility problems.(3)
There are many causes of infertility including problems with the production of sperm or eggs, with the fallopian tubes or the uterus, endometriosis, frequent miscarriage, as well as hormonal and autoimmune (antibody) disorders in both men and women.(3) Approximately 40 percent of fertility problems are due to a female factor and 40 percent are due to a male factor. In the balance of the cases, fertility issues result from problems in both partners or the cause cannot be explained.(3)
There are a variety of treatments available for infertility; these include surgery, hormone treatments, insemination, and IVF, among others.(3)
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — Stroller maker Maclaren announced a recall on Monday that affects about 1 million umbrella strollers that can reportedly amputate or lacerate children’s fingertips.
So far, the company said there have been 12 amputations across the country. This happens when children get their fingers stuck in between the stroller’s side hinges while it is being opened or closed.
The South Norwalk, Conn.-based company announced the voluntary recall in cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and advises customers to stop using the products manufactured in China sold since 1999 at stores including Babies R Us and Target.
Consumers can contact Maclaren at 877-688-2326 or visit www.maclaren.us/recall to receive a free repair kit.
Maclaren said the kit includes hinge covers designed to fit all Maclaren strollers.
The recall affects the following models, which range in price from $100 to $400: Volo, Triumph, Quest Sport, Quest Mod, Techno XT, TechnoXLR, Twin Triumph, Twin Techno, and Easy Traveller.
Parent alert: the Walt Disney Company is now offering refunds for all those “Baby Einstein” videos that did not make children into geniuses.
They may have been a great electronic baby sitter, but the unusual refunds appear to be a tacit admission that they did not increase infant intellect.
“We see it as an acknowledgment by the leading baby video company that baby videos are not educational, and we hope other baby media companies will follow suit by offering refunds,” said Susan Linn, director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been pushing the issue for years.
Baby Einstein, founded in 1997, was one of the earliest players in what became a huge electronic media market for babies and toddlers. Acquired by Disney in 2001, the company expanded to a full line of books, toys, flashcards and apparel, along with DVDs including “Baby Mozart,” “Baby Shakespeare” and “Baby Galileo.”
The videos — simple productions featuring music, puppets, bright colors, and not many words — became a staple of baby life: According to a 2003 study, a third of all American babies from 6 months to 2 years old had at least one “Baby Einstein” video.
Despite their ubiquity, and the fact that many babies are transfixed by the videos, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no screen time at all for children under 2.
In 2006, Ms. Linn’s group went to the Federal Trade Commission to complain about the educational claims made by Disney and another company, Brainy Baby. As a result, the companies dropped the word “educational” from their marketing. But the group didn’t think that was enough.
“Disney was never held accountable, and parents were never given any compensation. So we shared our information and research with a team of public health lawyers,” Ms. Linn said.
Last year, lawyers threatened a class-action lawsuit for unfair and deceptive practices unless Disney agreed to refund the full purchase price to all who bought the videos since 2004. “The Walt Disney Company’s entire Baby Einstein marketing regime is based on express and implied claims that their videos are educational and beneficial for early childhood development,” a letter from the lawyers said, calling those claims “false because research shows that television viewing is potentially harmful for very young children.”
The letter cited estimates from The Washington Post and Business Week that Baby Einstein controlled 90 percent of the baby media market, and sold $200 million worth of products annually.
The letter also described studies showing that television exposure at ages 1 through 3 is associated with attention problems at age 7.
In response, the Baby Einstein company will refund $15.99 for up to four “Baby Einstein” DVDs per household, bought between June 5, 2004, and Sept. 5, 2009, and returned to the company.
Lawyers in the matter refused to comment on the settlement.
Last month, Baby Einstein announced the new refunds — or “enhanced consumer satisfaction guarantee” — but made no mention of the lawyers’ demands.
“Fostering parent-child interaction always has and always will come first at The Baby Einstein Company, and we know that there is an ongoing discussion about how that interaction is best promoted,” Susan McLain, vice president and general manager, said in the statement. “We remain committed to providing a wide range of options to help parents create the most engaging and enriching experience for themselves and their babies.”
The founder and president of Brainy Baby, Dennis Fedoruk, said in an e-mail message that he was unaware of Baby Einstein’s refund announcement and could not offer further comment.
An outside public relations representative for Baby Einstein said there was nothing new about the refund offer.
“We’ve had a customer satisfaction guarantee for a long time,” she said, referring a reporter to the company Web site. However, Baby Einstein’s general “money-back” guarantee is only valid for 60 days from purchase and requires a receipt.
In contrast, the current offer, allowing parents to exchange their video for a different title, receive a discount coupon, or get $15.99 each for up to four returned DVDs, requires no receipt, and extends until next March 10.
“When attention got focused on this issue a few years ago, a lot of companies became more cautious about what they claimed,” said Vicky Rideout, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. “But even if the word ‘education’ isn’t there, there’s a clear implication of educational benefits in a lot of the marketing.”
The Baby Einstein Web site, for example, still describes its videos with phrases like “reinforces number recognition using simple patterns” or “introduces circles, ovals, triangles, squares and rectangles.”
“My impression is that parents really believe these videos are good for their children, or at the very least, not really bad for them,” Ms. Rideout said. “To me, the most important thing is reminding parents that getting down on the floor to play with children is the most educational thing they can do.”
More on this article THE NEW YORK TIMES
Interestingly enough, I received this Newsweek article from three different people, which I took as a hint that I should mention it on the ole blog. The article can basically be summarized as this: even if white parents think they are teaching kids not to see race, kids still see it, and not only segregate themselves accordingly, but also consider their own race superior. This is mostly because as it turns out when most white parents say that they’re teaching their kids not to see race, what they really mean is that they don’t talk to their kids about race. Like at all. And so kids come to their own conclusion, like that their own skin color is the best, and oh yeah, that their liberal parents don’t like black people.
Now I find this last point most interesting, b/c if you had asked me whether my parents liked white people when I was a child, I would have said no. Not because they didn’t like white people (I found out later that they both considered it a waste of time and energy to hate on white people), but because I never saw them with white people. They didn’t have any white friends and the only white people that ever came over to our house were invited by my sister and me.
So no, I didn’t think my parents liked white people. And I imagine that it doesn’t matter how liberal you are or what you say. If your kids don’t regularly see you with people of other races, then they’ll probably come to the same conclusion as the kids in the featured Newsweek study.
Oh, and another off-main-topic point from the article: the vast majority of people have a same-race best friend. I, myself, have a black best friend, even though my social world is mostly populated by white people, so I find this easy to believe. Contrary to what television and movies try to tell you, most people best-friend within their own race. Interesting, right?
But back to the main topic. The Newsweek article got me to thinking about how Betty will perceive race — especially since it didn’t mention interracial children at all. More specifically, I wonder if she’ll prefer one side over the other. I featured a video last month, in which a little biracial girl said she felt embarrassed when her black mother came to pick her up, b/c all of her friends’ mothers were white. I really, really don’t want Betty to be that girl.
But then all the handwringing of the article had me wondering about something articles like this never seem to consider. Just how responsible are parents for their children’s views on race?
Now I don’t agree with “not seeing race.” That view makes race seem like a pejorative concept, and I think it’s better to teach our kids to embrace as opposed to ignore our differences. However, I’m also aware that there are plenty of racists that don’t have racist parents and plenty of “one-worlders” who do.
If a stone-cold racist screeder like the terrorist who invaded the Holocaust museum couldn’t convince his own son to also be a racist, then how can we expect our children to embrace our higher ideals?
I can talk to Betty about race until I’m blue in the face, but in the end she’ll draw her own conclusions.
But maybe you disagree. Do you think that parents are responsible for how their children perceive race? And IR parents, are you scared that your child will reject or be ashamed of your half of her or his heritage. Let us know in the comments.
This is a blog from Fierce and Nerdy
Americans like answers in black and white, a cultural trait we confirmed last year when the biracial man running for President was routinely called “black”
The flattening of Barack Obama’s complex racial background shouldn’t have been surprising. Many multiracial historical figures in the U.S. have been reduced (or have reduced themselves) to a single aspect of their racial identities: Booker T. Washington, Tina Turner, and Greg Louganis are three examples. This phenomenon isn’t entirely pernicious; it is at least partly rooted in our concern that growing up with a fractured identity is hard on kids. The psychologist J.D. Teicher summarized this view in a 1968 paper: “Although the burden of the Negro child is recognized as a heavy one, that of the Negro-White child is seen to be even heavier.”
But new research says this old, problematized view of multiracial identity is outdated. In fact, a new paper in the Journal of Social Issues shows that multiracial adolescents who identify proudly as multiracial fare as well as — and, in many cases, better than — kids who identify with a single group, even if that group is considered high-status (like, say, Asians or whites). This finding was surprising because psychologists have argued for years that mixed-race kids will be better adjusted if they pick a single race as their own.
The population of multiracial kids in the U.S. has soared from approximately 500,000 in 1970 to more than 6.8 million in 2000, according to Census data quoted in this pdf. In the early years, research on these kids highlighted their difficulties: the disapproval they faced from neighbors and members of their extended families; the sense that they weren’t “full” members in any racial community; the insecurity and self-loathing that often resulted from feeling marginalized on all sides. That simple but harsh playground question — “What are you?” — torments many multiracial kids. Psychologists call this a “forced-choice dilemma” that compels children to claim some kind of identity — even if only a half-identity — in return for social acceptance.
But the new Journal of Social Issues paper suggests this dilemma has become less burdensome in the age of Tiger Woods and Barack Obama. The paper’s authors, a team led by Kevin Binning of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Miguel Unzueta of the UCLA Anderson School of Management, studied 182 multiracial high schoolers in Long Beach, Calif. Binning, Unzueta and their colleagues write that those kids who identified with multiple racial groups reported significantly less psychological stress than those who identified with a single group, whether a “low-status” group like African-Americans or a “high-status” group like whites. The multiracial identifiers were less alienated from peers than monoracial identifiers, and they were no more likely to report having engaged in problem behaviors, such as substance use or persistent school absence.
The writers theorize that multiracial kids who choose to associate with a single race are troubled by their attempts to “pass,” whereas those who choose to give voice to their own uniqueness find pride in that act. “Rather than being ‘caught’ between two worlds,” the authors write, “it might be that individuals who identify with multiple groups are better able to navigate both racially homogeneous and heterogeneous environments than individuals who primarily identify with one racial group.” The multiracial kids are able to “place one foot in the majority and one in the minority group, and in this way might be buffered against the negative consequences of feeling tokenized.”
In short, multiracial kids seem to create their own definitions for fitting in, and they show more psychological flexibility than those mixed-race kids who feel bound to one choice or another.
Fortunately, all these questions of racial identity are becoming less important, as we inch ever closer to the day when the U.S. has no racial majority. One of these days, after all, we will all be celebrating our multiracial pride.
It’s interracial week on Fierce and Nerdy