Monday, October 4, 2010

Who adopts black children?

Really?  "Mostly white people" adopt black children?  I would hazard to guess that  more African-American parents have adopted African-American children than white parents have. Consider, for example, kinship placements and step-parent adoption which already account for the vast majority of adoptions in the U.S. And then think of the relatively small number of transracial adoptions -- according to the 2000 census, only 17% of adopted children are transracially adopted. That makes the VAST majority of adopted children in same-race placements.  And according to this report, African-American women were more likely to be seeking to adopt than white women.

Looks to me like Bruce Tinsley, the cartoonist, is operating under some mistaken assumptions. I wouldn't necessarily expect Charles Schulz to fact-check before having Lucy offer Charlie Brown advice, but for a political cartoon like Mallard Fillmore, I'd like to think the facts would be important. Instead, we seem to be operating under some negative impressions about African-Americans being somehow unable to care for African-American children.

And I wonder if the cartoonist is aware of the history of discrimination against African-American adoption in the U.S.  Consider this from the invaluable Adoption History Project:
For a good part of the twentieth century, African-American birth parents and children were simply denied adoption services by agencies because of their religion, race, or both. In some states with large African-American populations, such as Florida and Louisiana, not a single African-American child was placed for adoption by an agency for many years running as late as the 1940s. Discriminated against and reluctant to establish racially-exclusive organizations when integration was synonymous with equality, African Americans relied instead on traditions of informal adoption to take care of their own.

By midcentury, estimates were that up to 50,000 African-American children were in need of adoption, but would probably never find permanent homes. The U.S. Children's Bureau began including race in its reporting system in 1948 and during the 1950s, a number of innovative programs around the country began recruiting non-white parents. From New York to Chicago and Los Angeles to Washington, DC, child welfare professionals and civil rights activists came together to promote culturally sensitive policies, integrate agency staff, and do community outreach. “You don't have to be a Joe Louis or a Jackie Robinson to adopt children,” declared one encouraging radio spot created by the Citizens' Committee on Negro Adoptions of Lake County, Indiana.
So what do you think?  Why include "people who adopt black children" in this cartoon?  What message about transracial adoption do you think the cartoonist is trying to convey?


YoonSeon said...

I think this is just one example of the assumptions that are so easily made based on stereotypes. It sucks and it's annoying and I hate it, but I that's what I hate about stereotypes: that they so easily become the "norm", therefore making it very easy for people to make assumptions and automatically think they're correct without doing any prior research.

Amanda said...

According to Ricki Solinger, a historian on the issue, adoption services were not available to ethnic and racial minority families until recent decades because there was no demand to adopt ethnic and racial minority children as most of the people seeking to adopt were White and wanted White babies. Instead, White women were specifically targeted for adoption. One First Mother friend of mine (who is White) has blogged recalling being in a maternity home with both Latina and Black expectant mothers. They were receiving help towards parenting. She was being pressured and coerced into adoption.

Decades ago, several states drafted, and even passed, legislation that basically criminalized an impoverished woman for giving birth out of wedlock, giving legal allowance for her child to be removed from her home and institutionalized. This was targeted at and harmed ethnic and racial minority communities who were more likely to be impoverished because of systemic barriers to advancement based on race.

Reena said...

OMG. What newspaper was this in-- did you mention that. I am so floored by the cartoon that everything else went out of my head!

Is it suppose to be a joke/satire/sarcasm about "the great white hope?"

What message does this send?

"if it wasn't for the great white hope-- riding in on our white winged horses-- heralded in by angles and a chours sung by bluebirds and white doves-- children of color would be destitute because no-one else cares or is responsible enough to provide for them."

Seriously? I see this cartoon as racist-- are they allowing other racist cartoons?

I am completely disgusted.

patti said...

Interesting. I see it skewering white people's colonialism more than saying black people can't take care of their own kids. Still not a good message about adoption. But more on the "Oh look, Angelina has another accessory kid" line.

Anonymous said...

I do not believe this cartoonist does much fact checking before he lambastes anyone or anything (most often the left). His cartoons are definitely not steeped in satire a la John Stewart-Steven Colbert. Although I'm sure he would want you to believe that and there are some out there who believe it. I also wouldn't doubt this guy is a racist on some level. While I hate to pass generalizations about someone I don't know personally, based on his cartoons (runs daily in our paper as he is from a smaller town in my State) I'm sure he enjoys the comforts of white privilege with no shame or regrets. I've met many like him in my State.

While I wouldn't give his cartoons a deserved read or credence, this cartoon did trigger a very interesting and important discussion.

Anne (newer reader)

Anonymous said...

It is pointless in my opinion to try to figure out the selected stereotypes inserted by the cartoon author.


Because they are simply window dressing to help complete the main tenet of the theme, which is clearly right wing, far right wing, political pontification.

The cartoonist could care less if he got his facts correct or not, much less care about any social relevance.

Anonymous said...

Yeah. Total teabagger theme in the cartoon. The center of gravity is conservative white self centeredness in the extreme.

Make no mistake though, this center of gravity is VERY racists in both motivations and origins.