So you may (not) have been wondering, “Hey Reedster, what’s up with your ‘dispatches from the land of coffee & tea’ tagline?” Well, I had very special Reedster Speaks blog posts rolling around in my head called “The Land of Tea” and “The Land of Coffee” that would have EXPLAINED THAT in very TOUCHING and POIGNANT prose unusual for this blog in that I might not even have dropped the f-bomb in them.
I was still talking over with my husband how to include the kids in the blog (will we show their photos? Use their real names? Come up with cute nicknames like Tidbit and the Bean?), but Ron Paul has messed all that up. Personally, I’ve been trying to ignore the fact that there is a Republican primary/debate-a-thon going on at all, except when things happen like Michelle Bachmann talks about her husband buying doggie sunglasses or Ron Paul loses half his glued-on right eyebrow on national television and blames it on his ALLERGIES. Or Rick Perry tries to count to three.
But then a group called “NHLiberty4Paul” ran a little ad the other day and I found myself ALMOST RE-TWEETING CINDY MCCAIN because of it.
I’m not going to link to the original ad, but here’s an overview of the “Jon Hunstman’s Values” video for the racist catastrophe that it was. Apparently, knowing a foreign language is bad. But worse? Having foreign-born children. Here’s a summary of the heinousness via Aliyah Shahid at The New York Daily News:
You can read the whole article here. (emphasis above mine).
The clip, which opens with Far Eastern music, labels the Oval Office hopeful a “Manchurian candidate,” and shows video of him holding his daughter he adopted from China, asking whether Huntsman has “American values, or Chinese?”
The video also shows Huntsman, who served as President Obama’s ambassador to China, speaking Mandarin, and holding his other adopted daughter, an Indian girl. It ends with an image of Huntsman’s face photoshopped into a Mao-era Chinese caricature.
Huntsman’s daughter Gracie, from China, is twelve. His daughter Asha, from India, is six. Pretty classy, right?
Cue a mother’s rage. See, our family was formed through international adoption. Our oldest daughter, now in third grade, was adopted from China in 2004 at the age of ten months (the Land of Tea, get it?). Our younger daughter was adopted from Ethiopia at the age of ten months in 2008 (hence, the Land of Coffee). They own my heart; they are our “own” in every sense of the word. Are you a parent? Do you know how much you love your kids? It’s like that. Because they ARE OUR kids.
But they do happen to be different races from us, and also from the fast shrinking but so-called “white majority” in the US. And so their experience of the world will always be different from mine, and I can only humbly stumble along and try to explain to them why there are such things are racism and how their skin color and eye shape and hair texture have nothing to do with who they are as people in their hearts and souls and in what they have to offer the world as talents and gifts and in who and how they love.
But they notice – how could they not? My older daughter just told me, months after it happened, that a girl in summer camp never called her by her name but only shouted “Hey Chinese Girl!” at her. And I was watching some kids’ show with my younger daughter and a montage of sleeping babies came on and she kept looking, in vain, for the one with “brown skin like me.” That baby never came. They were all perfect white Gerber babies except some had brown eyes. My third grader asked me the other day if she was too young to protest that kids adopted internationally can’t become President (she’s like an anti-birther. Take that Orly Taitz). No, sweetie – YOU ARE NEVER TOO YOUNG TO PROTEST FOR JUSTICE.
So back to Cindy McCain. You may recall in the 2000 South Carolina Republican presidential primaries a smear campaign that suggested John McCain had fathered an illegitimate black child. His youngest child was adopted from Bangladesh after his wife’s humanitarian travels there. After last week’s ad in support of Ron Paul, Mrs. McCain tweeted:
Which I found when it was retweeted by Rachel Maddow, of all people. Jon Huntsman’s wife Mary Kaye also denounced it as “disgusting.” When you get Cindy McCain, the Hunstmans, Rachel Maddow, and me on the same side of an issue, you know you are in the majority. Fear-mongering using little girls? Yeah, that sucks pretty much universally.
For the record, Ron Paul’s campaign denounced the ad too. But can we really hold him faultless? Is this really such a stretch from the racist drivel he’s been sending out in his so-called “news” letters? That maybe his followers would, you know, do atrocious racist things in his name? David Frum, former assistant to President George W. Bush, describes the newsletters as “suffused with paranoia, racial bigotry and support for the period’s violent militia movements,” in this excellent expose of Ron’s curmudgeonly guise, Ron Paul:Codger, crank or more?.
Or, as we put it in my home state of Minnesota…The fish stinks from the head.
As we raise our multi-colored family, I’m sure issues of race and justice will arise again in this blog. But once I cool down I’ll be posting the first installment of my new feature, The Reedster Cooks, which will be HILARIOUS so be prepared for that.
In the meantime, if you have or know anyone with children of color, I highly recommend my good friend Kim Kirkley’s awesome new children’s book, “A Cheer for Brown Skin.” I don’t even make any money if you click that link. Because I couldn’t figure out how to set up B&N affiliates.