Monday, December 3, 2012

White babies, please. No Eurasians for me.

This has got a lot of buzz in my networks. From Slate's "Dear Prudence" column:
My wife, who is infertile, and I have recently decided to have children—we’d like eventually to have three—using an egg donor. (We decided against adoption because we would have no biological connection to our children.) We have just settled on this option but it has thrown open a whole new dilemma for me. I am white and my wife is East Asian. Her race isn't a problem for me and I would have had no difficulty raising mixed race children, but frankly, now that I have the choice, I’d prefer my kids to be white. We live in a fairly homogeneously white area and at the end of the day I want my kids to look like me, their cousins, and the kids they'll go to school with. I don't think my wife has ever experienced racism, but I think she might understand my point of view. Then I think I maybe I’m just convincing myself about this. I really could use a second opinion before I broach the subject with her.
—Want To Be a Dad
You can read Prudence's response to this dude at the link above.

Now, if the wife is fine with this, then whatever, although that raise issues of its own about her. There's a lot of stuff that people are free to do in this world, but in doing so it reveals them as being messed up in the head. You gotta question the guy's thought process about this. It's so important for his child to look like him - which it will - but he doesn't consider that his wife might want the child to look somewhat like her. With a white child, it will be obvious throughout her life that she is raising a kid that is not genetically hers. That may not be a big deal, but it's an additional layer of scrutiny from onlookers that she may find difficulty to deal with, especially as some women might feel inadequacies (or have them projected onto them) from not being able to conceive naturally.

It's possible that he is actually genuinely concerned about half-Asian kids being the brunt of racist treatment in an all-white area. But is racism against half-Asians really such a huge area in this day and age so as to make their very existence worth negating? I've experienced a bit of racism here and there as a half-Asian, and some minor identity crises, but all in all those problems are far outweighed by  the good things. Being half one thing and half another is pretty cool. Unless "Want To Be a Dad" is living in Klansville, Mississippi or something, his half-Asian kids shouldn't have too much to worry about. His line about "I don't think my wife has ever experienced racism" is also strange. Has he never spoken to her about it? For an Asian-American woman to never have experienced even a small amount of racism is unusual indeed.

It's almost like his wife's East Asian-ness is an inconvenient fact. Or it's something he can handle in small doses, but no more than that. Perhaps he can take comfort in knowing that a lot of half white, half East Asian kids pass for white quite easily, and raised in a predominantly white environment, will likely turn out fairly white in their mentality. But perhaps that's not enough. I wonder if it's a kind of narcissism at play. One of the things people love about their own kids is that each child partly looks like themselves, as well as being reminiscent of their partner. Perhaps this guy wants to go the whole hog and have the kids look like as much as him as possible, and now he has the opportunity.

But it's also a reflection of the reality of some interracial relationships: an unhealthy intersection of appreciation for the person and appreciation of the race that they belong to. Some fetishists are attracted to a partner because of their race, while some others are attracted to a partner in spite of their race. Neither is healthy. No person is merely the sum total of their racial composition, but neither is it a trivial detail that the letter-writer seems to hope it can be.


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