Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie - A Feature Film by Barb Lee

April 8, 2008

What Is The Human Cost Of Racism?

Filed under: Race and Identity,Racism — Tags: , , — Catherine @ 4:21 pm

From New Demographic & Talking Points Memo Cafe:

As I follow the discussion we’re having here at TPMCafe, I keep thinking about The Mother Teresa Effect, a concept based on her quote: “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

Jae Ran Kim explains:

“In 2004, Carnegie Mellon University conducted an experiment to see if this quote held true in real life. They gave participants five $1 bills to participate in a fictional survey, then presented half of the participants with a fact sheet about starving children in Africa along with an envelope for a donation. The other half of the participants received the same envelope, but instead of a fact sheet, they were given a photo of a young girl named Rokia and a paragraph about how her life would benefit from the participant’s donation.”

As you might expect, those with the picture of Rokia gave more than twice as much as those with just the fact sheet.

The researchers tried the experiment again, this time giving one group the fact sheet and the story about Rokia and the other group just the story about Rokia. Again, those with just the story of Rokia donated more than the group with both the story and the facts.

In other words, not only are we more likely to do something to help an individual than an abstract problem, the inclusion of factual evidence actually reduces our ability to empathize and take action.

Am I advocating that we throw all our facts and statistics out the window? No, of course not. What I’m arguing is that there is power in the specificity of the personal narrative and we should make use of it in our anti-racist efforts.

When I think back on how my own views about race have evolved over my lifetime, I realize that some of the most profound shifts in my thinking resulted not from reading theoretical treatises, but from learning about specific individuals’ experiences.

Read the rest of the article here: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/04/03/what_is_the_human_cost_of_raci/


March 25, 2008

From Anti-Racist Parent: “T-Shirts that trivialize the transracial adoptee experience”, and from New Demographic: “Is America ready for a *real* discussion of race?”

From Anti-Racist Parent (originally published at Heart, Mind and Seoul):

On numerous occasions in the past, I’ve been fairly unsuccessful in trying to convey how many times I’ve felt that the messages and attitudes perpetuated by our society about adoption often leads me to feel that I am reduced down to nothing more than a commodity. . .a tangible item that people with the right kind of credentials and qualifications can pick out and pick up. . .a product that in theory, shouldn’t be available for return, but in fact, sadly is. . .an object that is believed to come from some other place, manufactured by another country instead of being born to two living, breathing human beings.

And time and time again, I’m told that somehow along the way I must have lost my sense of humor or the ability to empathize or that I should really try harder see other people’s points of view. After all, they probably had good intentions behind whatever it was they said or did.

So I’m trying to find the humor and the good intentions behind these t-shirts. But I have to be honest; I keep coming up with nothin’.

Read the full article here: http://www.antiracistparent.com/2008/03/19/why-oh-why-are-these-t-shirts-still-available-2/

***

In her latest newsletter for New Demographic, founder Carmen Van Kerckhove wrote this very interesting piece on the recent events in American politics:

Is America ready for a real conversation about race? That’s the question on many people’s minds after Barack Obama’s historic speech last week.

Judging by some of the discussion I’ve seen on cable news since, I’m not so sure. There was talk about Obama “throwing his white grandmother under the bus” because he mentioned that she feared black men who passed by her on the street. There was indignation when in a subsequent radio interview, Obama made reference to a “typical white person” harboring racial stereotypes.

Seriously? Is it that controversial for Obama to suggest that white people — like all of us — have internalized racist stereotypes, and that those stereotypes impact their interactions with others? If we can’t even own up to that simple fact, how on earth are we supposed to move forward?

On Friday, I spent some time on the phone with a reporter from The Los Angeles Times (read the article here). I told him that I believe one of the biggest obstacles to dismantling racism is the way each of us is only interested in our own oppression.
We’re up in arms when someone in our own community is discriminated against, yet when the same thing happens in another community, we couldn’t care less. We’re more interested in playing oppression olympics — arguing that our group is worse off than any other — than in finding a way to uplift all of us at the same time.

And that’s exactly what I see happening here. Instead of absorbing one of Obama’s core messages — that just because you have the privilege of not thinking about racism, doesn’t mean racism no longer exists — some white folks are using this opportunity to cry “reverse racism” and paint themselves as the ultimate victims.

I really hope we can break this cycle of self-absorption and get real. If we’re serious about dismantling racism, we need to go beyond the concerns of the specific community to which we belong and recognize that when one group is discriminated against, it is an affront to us all.

Warmly,

Carmen