Saturday, January 4, 2014
#IStandWithMHP "One of these things is not like the other"
I was searching for inspiration that would cause me to blog daily. Who knew it would be Twitter. As we know Melissa Harris-Perry made the unexamined choice to ridicule the grandson of Governor Romney. The child, an infant, is a transracial adoptee. So he was pretty much ridiculed for being black and adopted. During an exchange that lasted only a few minutes, Harris-Perry and guests not only point out the child's adoption (who does that?) but sing the Sesame Street Song "one of these things is not like the other". I am immediately triggered. When I was a little girl there were two things that the children used to sing at me that brought me to tears. Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and "One of these things". To have this blast from my childhood on a national stage surprised and alarmed me. In these instances of injustice I always wrongly assume that other people are going to immediately understand the issue from my perspective and stand in solidarity with me. I am almost always wrong. I rush to Twitter. My newly found "black feminist" community must be on fire with this. I am excited to engage. I am in need of validation as a transracial adoptee. I need to know that other people are going to hold Harris-Perry accountable for her unexamined bias against transracial adoptees. I KNOW that I will finally, after 39 years, be vindicated by the masses. Nah. The "black feminist" community is indeed on fire and, it would seem, they have missed the point. #IStandWithMHP is trending. The general sentiment of #IStandWithMHP is, as I understand it, that the "right-wingers" have called for Harris-Perry to be fired. This call for firing is understood as the right wing attempt to "get back at us" for all the times we have called for Palin, Limbaugh et.al to be fired for their racist comments and commentaries. Ok. I get it. What plays out, however, is a "he did it first" piss shoving contest that really does nothing to resolve the issue. Harris-Perry apologized to the Romney family AND PEOPLE ARE PISSED. I cannot even begin to process why modeling good behavior around this is a bad thing. What I am upset about is that Harris-Perry doesn't seem to be apologizing for the damage that is done to black transracial adoptees that have been part of her loyal fan base. Ok. You were insensitive and made fun of the Romney’s because you think that behavior is acceptable. In this unfortunate, immature, ridiculous political climate... it seems to be. What about all of the transracial adoptees, real people, real children and adults, who have had their worth as family members disrespected, devalued, and ridiculed on national TV by one of our black role models. REALLY? No one besides me sees a problem with this? Transracial adoptees are people too. We are complex, multicultural, multiracial, wildly intersectional people who (for those that it applies to) experience the world as raced and othered in relationship to the dominate population as well as those in non-dominate positions. We are on an island ... we are a diasporic people inside a diasporic people... and we often feel like the "thing that doesn't belong". It makes me think of the journey of Baynard Rustin who was closeted and silenced in order to be a part of the black civil rights movement. In his memoirs he shares how he was told not to "distract" people from the "bigger picture" with his call for gay rights. #IStandWithMHP does a similar thing. Those of us who see what Harris-Perry did as biased and hateful are expected to be silent and fight to keep her from being fired. The bigger cause here is keeping a black female anchor on the air not that this anchor has clear unexamined biases against transracial adoptees that manifested ON AIR. So yes, I get that people like Palin and Limbaugh suck. Does that mean that other people get to suck too? This defense strategy is reminiscent of the racist apologies we are used to. The "well they use that word" and "they call each other that" type of response to clearly racist behavior. Often, we do not recognize harmful actions when they are carried out by people in our own skin. One person, only one person, responded to my tweets today. For her I am grateful. She talked about really understanding the harm that was done to transracial adoptees. She also pointed out Harris-Perry's mixed race intimate reality (she believes Harris-Perry to have a white parent). This is the perfect reminder that, in reality, we are all products of the same racist system and we can and do reproduce racist harms. Period. Well, here I am. I am trapped between two worlds and struggling through. But at least I am writing #thanksforthat ...more soon