Several years ago, my friend Rita saw a play written by Asian adoptees raised in America. She told me about one vignette in particular that started out with this statement:
“It takes exceptional parents to raise a child of a different race. [beat] My parents were not exceptional.”
I keep thinking about that statement as people, primarily Black people and White people, weigh in passionately about the White women suing a sperm bank that mistakenly impregnated one of them with the sperm of a Black donor.
I think about it as a person who had to figure out how to navigate growing up mixed race, with the benefit of parents who loved me deeply, including a White mother deeply committed to raising me with a deep appreciation of my South Asian heritage, and as someone who pays a lot of attention to mixed race dynamics as a result. I find myself thinking a lot about that kid and the world that’s been created for her by that clerical error. I’m not all that interested in pouring contempt on the parents. I’m more interested in thinking about the world we live in and the world we’ve created that resulted in this moment in history:
- It is more complicated to navigate multiracial realities than most people in a predominantly monoracial context realize
- People usually select their baby’s genetic makeup when they choose who to partner with; the outrage over this lawsuit pretends that’s not true and pretends that race matters less to people than it does
- Advances in fertility treatments raise serious issues about race but also about disability and what constitutes a desirable baby
- Perhaps what we’re really talking about here isn’t about how we treat multiracial children, but the culture of anti-Blackness baked into America. And maybe we should be honest about that.