I once started a neverending interview, but now we're switching to a "Dear TAN" feature. Send your questions/letters to theassimilatednegro [at] gmail [dot] com.
In this edition: Moisturize returns! What's more important: style or stereotype?
hello tan, i would like to pre-empt this question with a request for "no flames please" because its a sincere question... thanks in advance.
some background: as you know i am white, my husband is white, and we have adopted 4 of our 5 children. 2 are korean, one is indian (india, not native american) and our baby was born in africa. 3 have cerebral palsy, one a heart defect and some emotional issues.
we try really hard to honor our children's birth cultures and learn as much as we can so that we can pass it on to them. but taking care of their special needs generally takes precedent.
my question...as ridiculous as it may sound.... is this: with 5 kids, people give us a lot of clothes that are still in good condition that their children have outgrown. we appreciate it and we are not picky and a lot of them are really nice. one of the bags of clothes for our little girl josie, who is black, had a dress that had watermelon on it. it was a really cute dress and i wouldnt have thought a thing about putting it on my korean or indian born girls (even though nilam, who is indian has nearly the same skin tone as josie). but something screamed no no no!!! remembering vaguely a prejudiced stereotype about watermelons but unsure exactly its origin or what it entailed. i told my husband...there is no way im putting this on her to wear in public. he was like "why? its cute" i gave him a "duh" look and he was like "what?" he hadnt heard of that stereotype and thought i was crazy. so i googled it and found over 1,000,000 entries about black people and watermelon.....ugh... he said if we do not have a bad intent, why do we care what people think. and i said first of all we dont want black people who see us to think we are making fun of her, and secondly we dont want to provide fodder for some ignorant idiot white person to make fun.....and then i would be jailed for having to kill them.....
the answer actually is simple.. the dress disappears and walla no more issue. but deep down i dont want to perpetuate a hurtful harmful stereotype. is ignoring them right? is fighting them right? how can something as benign as fruit become so painful when used to degrade someone and how do you take away that power? any thoughts are appreciated. rachel