Every week, Danny M. Lavery and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the reluctant parent.
Nicole Cliffe: This woman is not equipped to parent a black child and you should not bring a human being into this world as a Teachable Moment.
Daniel Ortberg: What does she mean when she says she wants to ”normalize race”?
Nicole Cliffe: The problem is not that people have not met black children.
I had a question once where a white person was concerned someone ELSE was picking a black sperm donor for political reasons, and I told them it really wasn’t their business, but this is your baby and 100% your business.
Daniel Lavery: This could not be more your business!
Nicole Cliffe: I understand you just want to stop talking about it, but you need to find the energy to bring it up in couples counseling at once.
Daniel Lavery: Especially because this is not going to go away
Nicole Cliffe: It shows NO SIGN of going away
Daniel Lavery: and if your partner starts making a habit of wearing you down during disagreements that’s a pretty big problem
Nicole Cliffe: And do not let her pull the “you get to carry the baby so our sperm donor is entirely my call” card
this is a potential human being we are discussing
Daniel Lavery: I didn’t know such a card existed!
Nicole Cliffe: I think it highly likely your partner will tell your child that she picked a black sperm donor to Normalize Race
Daniel Lavery: If anything I would have thought the person actually getting pregnant would have more say, since they’re the ones doing it
Nicole Cliffe: People are fucking wild, Danny
Daniel Lavery: which again: WHAT DOES THAT PHRASE MEAN
if she said it was to “end racism” i would disagree with her but i would at least understand what she wanted to communicate
Nicole Cliffe: Which is fine when it’s “I would like a green eyed donor bc I have green eyes”
Daniel Lavery: but I don’t understand this phrase
Nicole Cliffe: Yes. The phrase is batshit.
Daniel Lavery: does she think she will make blackness more “normal” through her whiteness? who are the people who need to have race “normalized”?
Nicole Cliffe: I am honestly not sure I would have any baby with this person, based on the argument itself and also her badgering and pressuring.
Daniel Lavery: It genuinely reads like she thinks blackness is abnormal and she can fix it
Nicole Cliffe: These are not good parenting skills. Take the gift she is giving you: foreknowledge.
Daniel Ortberg: I am reminded of Jennifer and Sarah Hart
who treated their black children as props and pawns, abused and murdered them.
Nicole Cliffe: Oh, God.
The worst people who have ever lived, minus some other people.
And way she tries to draw comparisons to adopting a literal, existing person
Daniel Lavery: and I don’t say that flippantly. I’m not saying this is the first step to your wife becoming a murderer, or that non-black parents cannot be loving, excellent parents to black children. But if someone wants to parent a black child because they have a power fantasy of themselves as someone who can “cure” racism through their children, that’s a sign they are not prepared to see those children as fully human.
Nicole Cliffe: Is just so ridiculous
Daniel Lavery: Your wife seems to have no other reason or interest in this particular sperm donor, other than “this will somehow fix racism”
Nicole Cliffe: I absolutely do not think this woman can healthily raise a black kid
Daniel Lavery: she’s so convinced of her own rightness and that worries me
Nicole Cliffe: So my advice is bring it up in counseling and also I do not think you should actually have a baby together.
I really do not.
Daniel Lavery: yeah, this is not a conversation you can sidestep
and I understand your exhaustion. Take a week or two. But this is pretty big, and pretty worrying
Nicole Cliffe: I would really look back on past disagreement, and see if there is a pattern there.
Daniel Lavery: Also: Who are the black people in your wife’s life?
Besides your friends she met through you.
Nicole Cliffe: I also would not, at this point, adopt a child with her.
She has completely lost the plot.
Her ideas are bizarre and children are not a project, ever.
Daniel Lavery: Like - how is this a direct response to racist police brutality? How does having a baby address the fact that someone else is being attacked? They don’t follow.
Nicole Cliffe: I just find it hard to believe that a person like this is not also a nightmare in other aspects of her life.
Daniel Lavery: She’s trying to make it so that if you don’t buy into her specific plan, you must be opposed to multiracial families, or secretly racist, which is a hell of a deflection
Nicole Cliffe: And trying to make you feel callous by not making a magical connection between horrific police brutality and her proposed solution to it
is just not someone displaying empathy or a logical thought process
Daniel Lavery: especially the idea that racism will be fixed when race is “made obsolete”
Nicole Cliffe: Woof.
Daniel Lavery: which places whiteness and blackness as equal sources of racism
Nicole Cliffe: It’s all very bad
Daniel Lavery: racism isn’t caused by blackness and whiteness! it’s caused by white supremacy, which is a choice, an institution, a legally-defended set of interests! you can trace its development and its history! She’s putting part of the blame for racism on the very existence of blackness!
And anyone who’s in that mental place is not a safe parent for a black child.
Nicole Cliffe: I think the LW is not in a place to be able to try to explain all of this, or persuade her wife to change her mind, so I would say my piece in counseling and then seriously re-evaluate my relationship.
Daniel Lavery: yeah you don’t have to get all of this out in one conversation
Nicole Cliffe: Her partner is a steamroller and that’s not going to change.
Daniel Lavery: and a steamroller for the unquestionable rightness of her motives
which is a bad thing to be a steamroller for
I’m really sorry. The one upside is that you’re seeing this now, and not after you have a child together
Nicole Cliffe: Yes, I really do think this is a gift.
She can have ridiculous and destructive ideas but you do not have to be along for the ride.
Daniel Lavery: I just imagine what this pattern of behavior would look like if she did have a child who someday said “Mom, I want to talk about the ways your ideas about race and racism hurt me”
Nicole Cliffe: Oh, God
Daniel Lavery: and i cannot imagine her doing anything other than flipping out
“How can you say that, we had you so we could transcend race, why are you so negative”
Nicole Cliffe: the guilt tripping and the certainty and the recriminations
Daniel Lavery: I hope she can learn and do better, and I hope you do not have a child with her.
Nicole Cliffe: Yes.
Daniel Lavery: and I hope the LW gets the time and space to say “This needs to stop” in counseling together
Nicole Cliffe: And if this does end your relationship, I would absolutely lay out exactly what happened to your friends, and make zero apologies for your reaction to her plan.