04 August 2007

This one I Made With a Traditional Recipe, This one I Bought at the Store, But They Taste the Same, Mostly.

I'm not one to be overly sensitive about comments that people make, especially if the comment they make is a joke. I think that political correctness has run amok and that most 'PC' terms are just euphemisms. I remember, in my retail days, blatantly balking at a manager when I was reprimanded for saying 'black' instead of 'African-American'. First of all, when did the term 'black' equate with 'nigger'? I believe what I said was, "...that black kid on the poster," and not, "...that stupid jiggaboo". Black people are black, white people are white, Chinese people are Chinese. The only way you're going to get me to call you 'African-American' is if you have lived on the continent of Africa within the last ten years.

I don't think that pointing out someone's race is a form of discrimination, but a form of distinction. If I say, "...that black kid," to distinguish from the eight white kids, and that's offensive to you, you're clearly the one with racial issues, not me. Chances are, if I say, "...the kid in the red shirt," you're not going to remember who was wearing a red shirt. It's not in a person's nature to mentally note who is wearing what (at least, not in the long term), whereas we look for physical differences in other people. Just how it is.

I also believe that stereotypes exist for a reason and I don't feel bad joking about such things. Further, I don't hold a double standard when people joke about things pertinent to me. I make rape jokes (Rape is no laughing matter...unless you're being raped by a clown!), I can handle jokes about pedophilia, I can even take jokes about adoption. Some people think that making, reciprocating, and laughing at such jokes is deplorable. I beg do differ. Deplorable is the life of the person who cannot laugh about even the most fucked up and heinous things. If you can't find humor in tragedy, you're more or less doomed. Making a joke about dead babies doesn't mean that dying babies is funny. Making a joke about AIDS isn't meant to diminish the seriousness of the disease.

I got thinking about all this the other day while reading a 'Dear Abby' column. For a few weeks now (yes, I follow the column, shut up about it), there's been a somewhat ongoing debate about a bride and groom being able to say whether or not children are allowed to come to weddings. Some people have argued that the bride and groom can do what they want, and some people think that the bride and groom should take in to consideration how the family feels. Frankly, I plan on having a Twister mat at my wedding because I typically enjoy children and am not so self-important so as to think that a child throwing a temper tantrum at my reception will ruin my wedding. That's life. And if you can't handle that explanation, please, don't come to my wedding.

Anyhow, a reader responded to this 'conundrum' with the following e-mail:

Dear Abby: Your response to "Furious in Vancouver, Wash.," about adults-only weddings, was right on.

My brother is being married in two weeks. We were informed, by e-mail, that children were not invited. The note said that baby-sitting was being arranged, but that each couple would be responsible for the baby-sitting fee.

My wife and I are upset about it, because we have an adopted 16-year-old and an 8-year-old who will be in the wedding party as the ring bearer. We also have a newborn, but because baby-sitters are being arranged, we didn't have a problem leaving him with them.

I called my brother to ask about it. They relented, and now the plan is for no children under 7. This will result in excluding only two children.

In the end, it was better for me to talk to my brother first than to go off half-cocked and create a potentially ugly situation for what should be one of the happiest events in my brother's life.

-- Mike in Indiana


How on earth is it even REMOTELY pertinent that his children are adopted? How does that factor in AT ALL?

This got me thinking though. Am I holding myself to a double standard by thinking it's OK to distinguish people as being black or white, but by being appalled that people would distinguish their children as adopted or biological?

Decidedly no.

There is a reason for distinguishing between people based on looks. It's a way of telling people apart and doesn't speak to their intrinsic value as people. So this makes me wonder how Mike in Indiana feels about his adopted children. Is that how he tells them apart? Doesn't he love all of his children equally? This e-mail implies that he might not, and it clearly matters to him that his children are adopted. He clearly thinks that they are different. He clearly thinks something or he wouldn't have mentioned it.

It only furthers my belief that a lot of adoptive parents think about their adopted children as possessions. If there truly isn't a difference between adopted children and biological children, why point one out? You shouldn't take pride in your children more because you 'made' them. If someone compliments you on a nice sweater you're wearing, my guess is that you'd say 'Thank you' rather than 'Oh well I didn't knit this'. No, you accept the compliment regardless of its origin.

What say you all?

On a completely unrelated note, I was at a bon voyage party last night, and a woman announced that a couple she's friends with adopted a baby from China! Hooray! She then went on to say that they did a photodocumentaion of the whole thing and said it was very colorful. She also mentioned, however jokingly, that the last photo was of them leaving the country, "quickly and quietly".

Why would you exit like that? Because that's how you exit the scene of a crime? A crime like a robbery?

OK. Glad we got that cleared up.

I didn't say anything because Drunk Me doesn't know when to stop quite as well as Sober Me.

All of these things still continue to resonate with me though.


elizabeth said...

It doesn't bother me when people point out, or specify, that someone is adopted, it is the truth. Being adopted is second best, no sense in pretending that it isn't.

Point taken that it is often irrelevant to the story, i.e. in a news article, but really I have other things to get upset about.

Oh and I say black too. Agree that unless a person was born in Africa, saying African-American is stupid.

LeRoy Dissing said...

I always thought African-American folks wanted to be called "black". They certainly don't go around calling me Caucasian! Its white or whitie. Can't have it both ways and I doubt folks would give it to them even if they did want it both ways.

I think saying you have an adopted child is really trying to draw attention to oneself. Even it is a transracial adoption, one could surmise one parent had a former partner of the other race. There are many "truths" that are not brought up unless it is relevant to the conversation. If I had a vascetomy, it is a truth I might not want to broadcast to the world, not that anyone would give a damn anyways...I realize adoption is more than that but it can follow a similar line of thinking.

Judy said...

I agree with you; I don't think there needs to be any distinguishing between adopted and bio in that case. I've heard parents do it too and it really grates on me unless it's really relevant to the conversation at hand.

Annie said...

That was a very strange place to use any kind of a distinuishing feature. How about, "My 3 blonde children will be attending the wedding." The only reason I could think of would be if a child were recently adopted and having difficulty with separation and the parents didn't want to leave him with a babysitter.