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A Conversation About Race

 

LAST NIGHT,  Terry, the author of the Breathing Grace blog, wrote to me with strong objections to my recent posts on transracial adoption, found here and here, and also to past posts about interracial marriage, found here, here and here. She was so disturbed by what I had written that she removed links to my blog from her site and apologized to her readers for recommending my writings.

What follows is an exchange between Terry and me on the subject of race.  Terry, by the way, is the black mother of six children. She Fairy Arthas written about interracial marriage here.   This exchange was a private discussion between the two of us. I thank Terry for allowing me to reproduce it here.                                          

  

TERRY WROTE:

I found it interesting that in your post, you refer to any identity struggles children of mixed race or who are transracially adopted as “social pathologies” that need to be dealt with. As if only the children of mixed race or mixed families have identity crises. I take exception to that as I am a black woman, raised by black parents, and I suffered all types of identity issues before the love of God captured my heart. Adoption is the heart of God. He even refers to it in His word, saying those of us not Jews have been “adopted.” While I am new to your blog and cannot say that I have any real knowledge of your faith, or lack thereof, I was initially impressed with your writings because they seem to closely align with the Judeo-Christian heritage. 

As for your assertion that transracial adoption is largely fueled by the feminist trend of delaying childbearing beyond its optimal time, that may be partially true. But I am aware of many Christian families who have made the decision to open up their homes to children in need of homes and in many cases this desire to extend the heart of God through adoption has led to transracial adoption. 

Our ignorance and societal bigotry is no reason to deny loving, stable, and godly homes to children because of racial differences. There are steps families can and have taken to ensure their adopted children are able to connect with their ethnic heritage. And since biracial children are exposed to families of both races, I don’t see how any identity confusion would be comparable to that brought on by transracial adoption.

Laura wrote:

Thank you for your note.

I want to respond to your points in detail, but unfortunately I am heading out the door. I just want to point out that I never used the phrase “social pathologies” in my post. I don’t know whether Karen Wilson, who commented on my post, used that term. I will have to check. 

I would like the time to respond and will get back to you tonight or tomorrow morning.

 Terry wrote:

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my concerns about your post. I thought that these were your words:

The overall findings to date are not optimistic and are quite similar to the findings of identity confusion reported in mixed race children. There must be a case for limiting this growing social pathology.

I apologize for the misunderstanding. If I may add a thought:  

Many of the Christian families I have been acquainted with who embarked on the adoption journey already have biological children of their own. Some have many birth children, three or more. In most instances, they never set out to adopt transracially, but simply to give a home to a child who needs one. It just so happens that there are not as many white babies available for adoption. 

My husband and I have six children, and we have discussed adopting at least one child. Of course, there is no shortage of black children who need homes, so simple math would imply that we will, if fortunate enough to adopt, most likely adopt a black child. But it is not as if we are setting out with a particular race of child in mind. 

Again, thank you for your swift response.

Laura wrote:

The study I linked to in the New York Times examined international transracial adoption and that is the phenomenon I was addressing. The adoption of black children by white families in the United States is a different issue. Their native culture is not so far removed,  geographically, as that of, say, a Korean from a white American family. This kind of adoption can pose identity problems too, but it wasn’t the trend I was discussing. 

My concern is the effect of this phenomenon on children. As mentioned in the study, adults who were adopted this way have spoken of their difficulties. Have you read their words? Yes, the world isn’t perfect and not everyone can grow up in an ideal situation, but still I think the way in which many hundreds of thousands of children have been taken from their native homelands and races with little public admission of the difficulties they may experience is insensitive. If wealthy Chinese couples came to America en masse and took thousands of white or black girls home with them, don’t you think Americans would feel some sympathy for these children and for the difficulties they might have growing up surrounded by those of a different race and culture? Why don’t we publicly recognize the hardships of children who come halfway around the world to live here? 

There is an immense demand for adoptable children in this country. Abortion, careerism in women, and infertility caused by delayed child-bearing and sexually-transmitted diseases have increased this demand exponentially. Many foreign children have been provided with loving homes here and, as I said, they are now a part of us and our culture. But this trend deserves serious examination and reconsideration. Is it serving the desires of parents or the needs of children? Certainly, the triumphant and crass way in which Hollywood stars are scooping up African children is repellent and racist. They are using these children as badges of their own imagined moral superiority. I repeat, It is repellent and racist. Sad to say, some countries are happy to sell their children, but should we take advantage of their recklessness?

The desire to be a parent is like other human desires. It is not necessarily good.

I see you have removed links to my articles from your blog and have apologized for linking to me. The clear implication of your words is that I am a bigot and racist. I reject the charge. Many black women in this country would vehemently dispute your claim that interracial marriage is good. [Laura is referring to Terry's post on interracial marriage linked above.] They see black men increasingly marrying white women. They want black men to marry them. I don’t blame them and I don’t think they are evil for feeling this way. I don’t think interracial marriage is a moral transgression or categorically wrong. I think it is very problematic, especially for children, and always will be. 

You seem to believe all sense of racial identity is wrong. I disagree. I think all hatred is wrong, and that includes racial hatred. But a sense of attachment to one’s own people and one’s race is inevitable and healthy. This attachment hardly precludes feeling love for and attachment to individuals of other races. 

I could say more to your points, particularly about your claim that it is un-Christian to possess any sense of racial consciousness, but that’s enough for now. You have tarnished my reputation by saying I am a bigot. In light of that, I don’t think there’s much room for further dialogue between us.

Terry wrote:

I am sincerely sorry if my words or actions have caused you offense. I have issued a public apology to you on my blog because it was never my intention to call you a racist. I thought we simply disagreed on this issue. I did not remove the links to your blog from my site. I update Delicious links fairly regularly and the older ones simply move dowm the list to make way for the new. Your links are still available to anyone interested in searching my link archives. I agree with you wholeheartedly on the impact of feminism in the culture which is why I initially linked to your blog. 

I am sorry that you feel there is no more room for dialog between us, because I feel there is lots you and I could learn from each other. If you will be so kind as to hear me out this one last time, I would like to answer your assertion that I believe there is no place for racial solidarity. Or that I think there is no place for race consciousness. That is not completely true. if it were so, I would never address issues of race on my blog and would in fact have gone out of my way to keep my ethnicity private. I could have easily done that. I don’t, and I write about race precisely because I am concerned about the black community. 

However, in the hearts of believers in the Lord Jesus Chrsit, you are correct that I am adamant that our first allegiance is to be to the people of God (no matter their color) before any allegiance to people of the same race. I believe that is what Scripture teaches. In addition, as I have seen this monolithic mentality (politically speaking) ravage our communities through the election of people who subsidize irresponsibility and anti-family pathologies, I have seen very little come from black solidarity since the grand days of the civil rights movement. This solidarity has degenerated to self-suicide for the black family. 

As for the very real point you raised about black women wanting black men to marry them: I agree. However, the reason most black women are husbandless has very little to do with black men being stolen away by white women. The vast majority of black men still marry black women. The large number of unmarried black women is due to feminism. Because most American women spend their childbearing years obtaining higher education and/or catering to their sexual whims by dating unmarriageable men (bad boys, as it were), by the time they mature enough to desire marriage, there are fewer men to choose from. Factor in that 70% of all black babies (which would indicate that 70% of our black men are raised without an example of godly male family leadership) are born to single women, the picture becomes even bleaker in the black community. 

I have several friends and family members (all black) who are married and have thriving families. Every one of these women married their husbands when they were in their very early 20′s, including me. One was 18! Black women can marry, but we need to make some changes. It will still be hard, since our communities are cranking out unmarriageable men at a disproportionate rate, but again, we have a hand in that, too. If a black man wants to marry when he is 22, and all the black women either reject him as “too nice”, or have decided that it is more imprtant to climb the educational and corporate ladder, then we can’t very well complain when these men look to women of other races for brides, can we? 

I hope I have painted a balanced picture for you of the complexities of this issue. I think I will write a post, as it is that serious. When I write it, I will again apologize to you publicly because I don’t think you are racist. Never did. As my post implies, I just vehemently disagreed.

Laura wrote

Thank you for your sincere apology. I have no hard feelings toward you and am happy to discuss anything you wish. I have read your blog and believe you have good things to say.

I want to note that it is personally difficult for me to discuss issues such as interracial marriage and transracial adoption. It gives me no pleasure at all. My view is likely to win me enemies and in today’s world it is especially risky for a white person to say such things. I would just as soon say only what is pleasing to others.

But it is my duty to speak the truth as I see it. I am more than happy to reason through my points with anyone who differs. I do not turn aside any criticisms or challenges provided they are not rude. Nor do I believe I am always right.

It is my personal duty to speak up. I am not racist and this gives me a special burden to be forthright and honest. My conscience is clear as I have always acted honorably toward those of other races. There are things about other races I admire, just as there are things about my own race I dislike. My sense of connection with other whites does not prevent me from forming deep attachments and love toward individuals of different races.

The belief that race is pure fiction and that all humanity is essentially the same represents, in my opinion, a rebellion against God. Here is where I deeply disagree with you. You suggest I am ungodly for recognizing that race is a facet of human existence which will never go away and that people do feel some sense of connection with their own race. I say it is ungodly not to recognize the order of God’s creation, and that part of that order is distinct races.

In the Book of Genesis, Chapter 11, men attempt to meld all races and cultures together to create a perfect human society in the Tower of Babel — “a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

Men hope they can then not be divided into different societies. This is a repudiation of God’s will. “The Lord came down to look at the city and tower which man had built, and the Lord said, “If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach.” God does not want this so he confuses human languages and “scatters them abroad over the face of all the earth.” [This is a paraphrase of an argument put forth by Lawrence Auster here.] 

We are individuals, but we also belong to certain groups: family, country, race, culture. All these groups place different demands upon us. In recognizing allegiances to different collective entities, we also recognize that morally and spiritually we are the same in God’s eyes. We stand before God as individuals. We will be judged by God not for our racial or national or family affiliations but for our love of Him and our adherence to his eternal laws.

The Bible addresses our relations to God in this spiritual and moral realm. Unfortunately, it is not a complete guide to living in the real world or figuring out how to live with these racial differences. We must sort through many things as we go along, greatly aided by our obedience to and trust in God’s will as we proceed.

You say that racial solidarity is wrong because of what it has done to the black community. I believe racial solidarity is neither good or bad. It depends on what is done with it. The fact is, racial solidarity exists and will always exist because people do share certain traits with members of their race. That doesn’t mean they share traits only with members of their race or that they must live all their lives in the company of their own race. Not at all. But there is a deeply-ingrained group connection.

Racial solidarity can be used for good or ill. Blacks have used it in recent years to destroy both themselves and whites. They have used it as a way of claiming moral superiority over whites and of avoiding their own fallibility. In doing so, they threaten our culture at large. To destroy the self-confidence of whites is to destroy the foundations of our society. But, whites are guilty in this area too as they have eagerly embraced suicidal thinking.

Whites are also guilty of grave wrongdoing toward blacks. They have abandoned the moral laws that hold family and society together. This has had much more dire consequences for blacks than it has had for whites. By refusing to recognize that there are differences between the races, whites have made things worse for blacks. The greatest thing whites could do for blacks (and for themselves) would be to reject sexual promiscuity, defend traditional marriage, abhor feminism and promote Christianity. I am not an Obama supporter obviously and believe he is actually anti-black.

I share your concern for the black community. I don’t think black women object to black men marrying white women only because of the dearth of marriageable black men. Yes, that’s a major factor and obviously makes them especially resentful. But I think it is a natural and instinctive thing. They see a black man with a white woman and they ask themselves, “Why? Why? He is one of our own. What does he see in her he cannot find in a black woman?”

I think white men have this same reaction when they see a white woman with a black man. It’s a visceral, gut thing. It can never be eradicated. Whether we like it or not, it’s a part of being human. (By the way, I personally do not have that visceral reaction when I see a white woman with a black man.) I also think children do definitely experience confusion in a mixed race home. I have known a number of Asian/white families. They are very loving parents, excellent families. But some children may be torn between two worlds, especially because they look so strongly like the Asian parent and yet have been raised among whites. They must choose one identity and some struggle with the decision. That doesn’t mean these families are catastrophes. Not at all. But it does mean we must look carefully at which social models we approve of. It is heartless to children to avoid doing so.

Again, I believe the modern drive to deny race as a factor in human experience represents a rebellion against God. We did not make this world. We cannot be so arrogant as to refashion it to our liking. All hatred is evil, but love of one’s own is not wrong.

All the best to you,

Laura

Terry wrote:

We certainly agree on the issue of our president, whatever else we may disagree about. That’s something. Thank you for hearing my point of view.

Terry also wrote this at her blog:

It was not my intent to insinuate in any way that the author of The Thinking Housewife is a racist. If I have done that, then I was wrong. I believe we, as thinking people, can disagree on major issues and that it in no way reflects that those we disagree with are evil. We simply disagree. Laura, I apologize if my post was offensive or insulting to you.

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                                                                                                          —- Comments —-

  

Karen I. writes:

I want to share an experience that influences my thinking on mixed race children. 

I had a friend I worked with at a grocery store when I was 17 who was born a year or so before me, about 1970. He was what I believe they called “Amerasian” at the time. I don’t know if the term even exists anymore, but in the 80s, it meant his father was an American soldier during the Vietnam war and his mother was a woman living in Vietnam at the time. They later married and moved to America. 

My friend was so handsome. He had the best attributes of both races – tall with thick, jet black hair and perfect ivory skin. Slender, he dressed better than anyone I knew. His teeth were perfect and his smile was beautiful. His dark eyes shined. He had a wicked sense of humor and was joking away with me one day when he turned suddenly serious. His father, he said, never fully accepted him. He wanted him to, but he never did. He spoke a bit more of his failed efforts to win his father over before he suddenly resumed his usual smiling demeanor. We went our separate ways after our shift at the grocery store was over and I did not really give much thought to what he had said. 

I got a call later that night. It was my boyfriend, telling me my handsome, mixed race friend had gone home and killed himself shortly after leaving work. I knew I was one of the last people to see him alive and maybe the last to speak with him. I was grief stricken beyond words. Two decades later, I am still haunted by our conversation now and then, still wonder if there was something I could have done. I have replayed that conversation in my mind so many times. The only issue he ever expressed any pain over to me (or anyone else I knew of) was likely an effect of his father’s poor reaction to his mixed race. 

I think the issue of mixed race children is a very complex one. Parents of such children who fail to recognize that and to tread carefully are doing their children a grave injustice.

Philip M. writes:

In your discussion about interracial adoption and mixed relationships you say: 

“By the way, I personally do not have that visceral reaction when I see a white woman with a black man.” 

When you think about what is wrong with this comment it illustrates why race politics is different for men than women, and why I do not see how a woman who accepts the reality of race has the ‘right’ to chastise men for having more extreme views than women on the subject (not that you do).

Whilst you may have a reaction on a racial level to seeing a black man and a white woman, you will not have the same reaction as a man on a sexual level, and this is a far more primal and basic part of one’s identity, even more so than race. Men are the guardians of the tribe. It is our job to protect our gene-pool, and we are protecting it from the only ones capable of taking it–other men. A woman would not feel the sense of betrayal of duty and emasculation that a white man feels in such a situation. A documentary about some big-cats I once saw showed a group of male cats attacking another pride (I forget the exact species, but it was a mammal and that is close enough). Once all the males were dead and their cubs had been killed the females from the defeated pride started ovulating. I’m sure you will take my point that it is the males who were fighting over the fertitity of the females, the ones taking the risks, the ones getting killed. 

In fact, there are many reasons why white women win from this situation, sexually. International migrants are far more likely to be men. Like businesses getting a larger supply of labour, women have more to choose from in a market where it is men that have to do the competing and not the other way round. Whereas white men who take non-white women are on the whole usually seen as losers, not least by white women themselves (I am thinking of women’s reactions I have seen to mail-order brides).

Laura writes:

On the one hand, you say that it is natural for men to feel a stronger negative reaction and on the other hand you say my comment is “wrong.”  I don’t think the sort of instinctive response I’m referring to is either right or wrong. It’s just my honest first reaction to a couple without children and is unrelated to my considered opinions on these relationships.

Your observations of why men have this response and are more vehement on the subject makes sense. However, as you acknowledge, it isn’t just a male/female thing, as it probably also has to do with the market of available mates and other cultural factors. Black women appear to express very strong opinions on the subject of black men with white women, but white women don’t appear to have the same concern about black women with white men. 

I think women, and white women in particular, do not exhibit or sanction strong opinions on race for a number of reasons. They are less aggressive than men in general and they are the victims of a common and traumatic form of interracial violence: rape. Men should not expect women to display strong opinions on the subject and should consider it natural that they are frightened by the entire topic. And, the reverse is true for women regarding the attitude of men.

By the way, international adult migrants are far more likely to be men, but there has been a much higher rate of females among child migrants, due to adoption. Many white men are marrying Asian women in America, preferring them over less attractive white mates. I’m not sure it is possible to say that acceptance of interracial marriage is most advantageous, in the sense you mean of enlarging the market of available mates, to white women.

 

 

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