By ARP editor Tami Winfrey Harris
Not like the others: What person of color has not, at one time or another, been given honorary white status? There is a peculiar side to some people who suffer from race bias. Even meeting a person of color who negates long-held stereotypes is often not enough to shake the bias loose. The person in question simply becomes an exception to the rule. There is much talk of how an Obama presidency will transform race relations in America, but will it? In “Not like other blacks,” Charles Lewis of the National Post (Canada), wonders.
“People are relishing the chance to vote for Obama to show they are not prejudiced, even while they live the contradiction,” said Prof. Emerson. “We’re living separately, we’re worshipping separately, and our friendships are separate. Whites will vote for Obama because it makes them feel good about themselves. But if he was walking down the street and they didn’t recognize him, they might cross to the other side, grab their purse, and lock their doors.”
He has a perspective that is different from most. Twelve years ago, he and his wife and four children moved into an all-black neighbourhood in Houston. The move was part of what he describes as a spiritual awakening — “We decided we couldn’t be part of the separation and injustice that is here.”
He said many of his friends and relatives were horrified, even to the point of calling him a “nigger lover.” Some still call him that. When his children were in elementary school, the fact that they were white did not seem to matter. Now that they are older, their circles of friends are becoming more white, in part because the black kids want to be with other black kids.
“I don’t think there are any white Americans who are entirely unaffected by the racial animus of the United States that pervades everything,” said Michael Rosenfeld, a professor at Stanford University in California. “My parents were liberal Democratic New York activists but I don’t know if they ever had any black people in their social circle. So, they just didn’t know the other very well and that lack of familiarity makes it easy to distrust.
Adoptions on hold: As the profile of international adoptions rises, American adoptive parents are facing more scrutiny and new rules designed to decrease child trafficking mean couples eagerly awaiting children from other countries have to wait. The New York Times article “To Adopt, Please Press Hold,” once again shows that so little associated with international adaoption is simple:
“The days of China sending 7,000 kids into the United States are long gone,” said Chuck Johnson, vice president for training and agency services for the National Council For Adoption in Alexandria, Va. “We’ve had to work so hard to get 19,000, but countries are making it harder to adopt these children.”
A major change in the adoption landscape is the Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption, a treaty involving more than 70 countries and recently signed by the United States. It establishes new accreditation requirements for adoption agencies and protections against child trafficking. Many in the adoption field expect the treaty to stop the commercial industry that boomed in many countries as demand for international adoptions rose. Ultimately, the regulations are expected to benefit the children and those wanting to adopt them.
But while the number of adoptions may bounce back up eventually, many prospective parents are caught in the turmoil now, even though they were already far enough along into the adoption process to have purchased bigger homes, swing sets and children’s clothes.