An Open Letter to the Mother Upset Over Her Biracial Baby10/08/2014
This is written for Jennifer Cramblett, the Ohio mother suing a sperm bank in Chicago for mixing up...
This is written for Jennifer Cramblett, the Ohio mother suing a sperm bank in Chicago for mixing up vials which resulted in her giving birth to a black baby.
Dear Ms. Cramblett,
By now, you know thousands of people have heard your story about being impregnated by a donor you didn’t request. You specifically wanted a blonde hair, blue-eyed white donor who resembles your partner, but instead were given an African American one. As a result, you now obviously have a biracial child.
I want to begin by saying I understand you had a preference and you have a right to be upset it wasn’t met. The bank was negligent and they should acknowledge their mistake and pay for it. Just as you wanted a child who resembles you and your partner, so do I want a black child that resembles me. But what I don’t seem to understand is your handling of the situation and the claims that this is an emotional and painful experience for you to go through.
“Because of this background and upbringing, Jennifer acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans, and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogeneous, Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant.”
It then went on to say that getting a haircut is not stressful for most mothers, but because your daughter has typical African-American hair, you must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where you live to get a decent haircut for her. I am so sorry your daughter’s genetic makeup is inconvenient to deal with. I’m also sorry that you have to take extra time to find a place to deal with her nappy hair that can’t be tamed by the nearest beautician. As a way to express my deepest regret, please let me take your hand and walk you to a door that has a surprise waiting behind it. I’d like for you to close your eyes and count to 10 and when you're done, slowly (and I mean slowly) open that door in which you will see a large sign that reads in sparkly letters:
CHECK YOUR WHITE PRIVILEGE.
You see Ms. Cramblett, what you fail to understand is how protected and comfortable you are in this world where you benefit greatly from white privilege. You grew up in a racially intolerant community where black people were seen as inferior and spoken negatively of. As you may or may not have agreed with some of those stereotypes, little did you know you would be giving birth to one. As your family and friends gathered round and said racially insensitive jokes and you may or may not have laughed, little did you know we would soon be laughing at you. Laughing not because you have a black child, but because you have displayed how narrow-minded you are.
You declare this has nothing to do with race, but it seems it has everything to do with your internalized racism and the discomfort you are experiencing with now having to learn about people you’ve been taught to fear and hate. From the time black people are conceived, it’s ingrained in us that we’re worthless, our lives don’t matter and we are an inferior race. Jumping from one news station to the next and sharing your pitiful sob story, Ms. Cramblett, you are reinforcing those ideas while denying us our humanity. Our existence and struggles are only okay if you and other white people don’t have to deal with it or raise kids who will. As long as you can sit comfortably in your own home while others in this country are oppressed, disrespected and dehumanized, it won’t give you sleepless nights.
It would do you some good to take this as a learning opportunity to simply step out of your privileged comfort zone and try to see life through a different lens. This is a way to begin to partially understand what it’s like to be black living in America.
I find it quite amusing you feel your situation is causing you emotional distress, discomfort and you’re fearful for your daughter in a racist community. Again, this is where I say check your white privilege. All the emotions you are experiencing now are what black people deal with throughout our entire existence. Our sons and brothers can be slaughtered like animals by the police in broad daylight, have their bodies rotting away on the street for over four hours for the public to see, only to be told if they weren’t thugs or didn’t look like one they still may be alive. Our daughters and sisters can go missing, be sexually assaulted or victims of domestic abuse, only to be told if we weren’t uncontrollable angry black bitches, we may be treated with respect.
So please enlighten me on how stressful it is for you to walk around your community comfortably because everyone looks, speaks and dresses like you. Or tell me how hard it is that whichever hair salon you go to, there’s a stylist guaranteed who knows how to cut and style your hair.
Share that with me and I’ll give you a glimpse into my life, and millions of other black women in America, where it’s all too common to live in an area where people don’t understand our hair or cut it. Where it’s very common to travel miles outside of our community to get our hair properly done or buy makeup because most local drugstores and companies have shades that only go as dark as “natural tan.” And where we don’t always have the option to relocate if we live in a community that doesn’t accept us with open arms.
All I can say is you’re in for a rude awakening. But I still have hope for you and your daughter. I understand it won’t be an easy adjustment but it’s possible. It’s going to take a lot of time, patience, dedication, effort and love. Oh and education; a lot of education about African-Americans, our history, struggles, and everyday lives. In order to raise an emotionally healthy black girl with confidence and secure self-esteem, you really need to change your ways and open your mind.
So with all that said, I wish you nothing but the best for your family. You’ve been blessed with a beautiful, healthy daughter and I know she has two mothers who love her dearly. In this new chapter of your life I wish you joy, success and strength to overcome challenges you’ll face, along with a daughter who can grow up one day and know although it wasn’t intended for her to be here, you and everyone else proved it was.
Ogechi Emechebe is a journalism major that loves reporting on issues such as gender equality, social justice and healthy lifestyles. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, working out and cooking. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.