Racial Jackassery (J)

12 Apr

Yesterday I became aware for the comments made by an Alabama state representative.  During a March 2014 debate on abortion, Rep. Alvin Holmes said this:

“I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama. I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in 20 dollar bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase.”

(A full article can be found here.  Be sure to stick around for the lawmaker’s beautiful application of Godwin’s Law at the end of the article.)

Fortunately, my A to Z challenge letter is “J”, because that quote brings a couple of “J” words to mind*.

Is his joking?

Jeez, I think he really means that.

Ignorant jerk.

What a jackass.

*Lets be honest, that steaming pile of ignorance brings to mind many other words – many of which do not begin with “J”, and very few of which I would publish under my own name.  

Before you start to think this is random outrage over something that was said by a low-level politician 1,500 miles away, you should know this:  I am white.  My wife is white.  Our oldest daughter has a white birth mom and (we believe) a black father.  Our youngest two had black birth parents.  True, we did not adopt our children in Alabama* (ours were all born in Florida), but that does not change my initial reaction:  Alvin Holmes’s comments are shocking and offensive to me.

*But after we received clearance to leave Florida with our youngest daughter, we drove across Alabama on our way home, including a fun-filled 75 minutes of gridlock outside of Birmingham.  Personally, I think that entitles me to a share of the $100,000 in that briefcase.

Once my initial outrage subsides, I find myself torn on this.  There is a part of me that will always stand up for my family – especially against those who think we don’t belong together because the color of our skin doesn’t match.  I’m sure we get odd looks and second glances when we’re out, but I don’t notice.*  I have never had anybody say anything negative to me – but frankly, I chalk that up to living in the Midwest where if we can’t say something nice, we don’t say anything at all.

*Okay, there may have been one time in the grocery store where I felt like a black woman was giving me the stink eye, but that may have just been my paranoia – or the fact that my oldest two were being rather rambunctious. 

So yeah, if we lived within four hours of the Alabama capital building, we probably would have gone to show Rep. Alvin Holmes that we are one of many families who proudly adopted black kids.

Rep. Harris, this white dad and his three black kids will take our $100,000 now.

Rep. Harris, this white dad and his three black kids will take our $100,000 now.

But there is another part of me that wants to let this whole thing go.  In reading some of the other public statements that Rep. Holmes has made, it seems pretty clear to me that has a lot of unresolved anger and distrust for white people.  I completely understand that.  Alvin Harris is a longtime state representative, having served 32 years in the Alabama House.  Alvin Harris is also a black man.  Living in Alabama as a black man, I can only assume Holmes has known very real and very ugly racism and discrimination – the type of which a white kid in Nebraska, born the year Holmes took office (1974) can not even imagine.

Back in my business travel days, I spent some time in small town Alabama.  I remember being shocked by some of the things I heard coming out of the mouths of the people I was working with (i.e. white folks working in a bank).  There were not any direct slurs or words that begin with “N”, but there was plenty of things that I found inappropriate.  My point:  Racism is real in the South, and I have no doubt that Alvin Holmes and the people he loves and represents have been on the receiving end of a bunch of crap from white people.

I also know that one of the toughest things to do is to cure ignorance.  It can be done, but too often it’s not worth the hassle.  With his comments, Alvin Holmes appears to be painting all whites with the same brush.  He is saying that all things being equal, white people would choose white children, so why would any white person want to adopt a black child?  I could list off the reasons why we specifically chose an interracial adoption program through our agency, but I get the impression that would not matter to Rep. Holmes.  In his eyes, we “settled” for black kids instead of white ones.  As horribly, hopelessly wrong as he is, how do you combat that?  I don’t think you can.  Besides, I have better things to do than try to change the mind of somebody who has their mind made up. I’d rather spend that time with my beautiful children.

*   *   *

(Author’s note:  Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post?  Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge?  Like clicking on links?  These questions are all answered here.)

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5 Responses to “Racial Jackassery (J)”

  1. bookmammal April 12, 2014 at 3:10 am #

    I can’t think of anything to add to this post, except that your children are lovely. What a shame that this issue is even still a topic of discussion. Racial jackassery, indeed.

  2. Chantelle April 12, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    I could not adore this photo more nor could I be more in agreement with everything you said and feel. My parents are both black but my biological father was abusive and my mother left him. She married a white man who was the best step dad to a little black girl who wanted a dad. This photo actually looks like it could be and him. This was 30 years ago in Texas back before it was cool for white guys to marry black girls so I definitely remember the angry stares directed at my parents but I thought he was just the coolest person God ever made. Thank you for loving all babies and god bless you for adopting a few of the black ones that are disproportionately much longer waiting adoption.

  3. 5kidswdisabilities April 12, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    What a thoughtful comment. I, too, have some kiddos who are bi-racial. I, too, have traveled in the south and been amazed at the racism that still exists. Amazing!

  4. Amy Saab April 18, 2014 at 7:36 am #

    I am a Vermonter living in Alabama. I am shocked by anything negative coming out of the mouths of people about race, any other then their own. Some of it from my husband’s family. The only thing I can do is to teach tolerance to my children. Children do not see color unless they are taught otherwise. So on to the next generation! I love the photo of you covered in children. ~amy

  5. Sarah June 6, 2014 at 3:32 pm #

    Well, – unless we learn to think for ourselves, look after ourselves and become accountable – not a single thing is gonna change. My ex husband was that way – inactive, infantile and demanding, now he is sitting on imgur all-day upvoting jokes about masturbation. If you don’t strive, you lose it. Great write-up. xOxOx Sarah- http://phytoceramidesreviewstv.com/
    Sarah http://phytoceramidesreviewstv.com/

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