Freakoracismese

In a NYT blog, one of the authors of Freakonomics recently answered the following question:

What is your opinion on how international adoption affects the economy, race and class divisions, and the widening income gap within U.S.? What do you think of the argument that children are “readily available for adoption” in the U.S., and, further, that adoption is marketed as a product with benefits?

After failing to point out that international adoption is a multi-billion dollar a year industry, Steven Levitt, adoptive father of two daughters from China, goes on to explain why he chose to adopt Asian children as opposed to a Black children and how that decision was, in his opinion, not racist:

“The identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult.”

“As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being ‘black’ or ‘white'”

“That same sort of racial ‘all or nothing’ choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.”

This logic, which assumes that Asian identity issues are lesser than to the point of being nonexistent, goes back to resistance’s questions: “What is the right sort of identity for a transracially adopted child? What identity will allow the child to bond with the adoptive parent? Does the child have to be a pseudo-biological one (We’re really all the same! I don’t look at him and see that he’s Chinese, I look at him and see my son!) in which differences are minimized, unspoken, unnoticed or suppressed?”

I guess in Levitt’s view, he’s able to bond better with his Asian children than a hypothetical Black child, because well, Asians are pretty much white or at least white enough to not pose significant problems (for him). Never mind what his kids think or will think. The Q&A is par for the NYT and its notion of Relative Choices.

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5 thoughts on “Freakoracismese

  1. Keep in mind this is the same guy whose theory that abortion leads to lower crime rates (because we’re getting rid of those poor and minority babies nobody wants) has been disproven time and time again. But since he’s already halfway espousing eugenics, I guess he’s been speaking racismese for a while now.

  2. Mr. Levitt’s logic does seem faulty and probably common among white adoptive parents.

    The “all or nothing” idea shows the unwillingness of a parent to be the bridge,
    and perhaps the expectation that the child will be the bridge.
    The perpetual foreigner and model minority scapegoating doesn’t have to be faced under his logic. To me, the invisibility, the feeling that somehow my children don’t exist, that the things that happen to them don’t matter, can be the biggest challenge
    and so painful.
    I think there are plenty of white adoptive parents of black children/African American, who aren’t doing anything differently than Mr. Levitt, they are just using a different form of self-serving logic to excuse themselves.

  3. We did give some serious thought to adopting either a black child domestically, or adopting from Africa. It turns out that African adoption is extremely complicated, as Madonna discovered the hard way. Ultimately, my own view was that the identity issues faced by a black child raised by white parents would be too difficult. Some of my academic research with Roland Fryer has made clear to me the stark choices that black teens, especially boys, have to make about “who they are.” As a parent, I was not willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child, only to know that when he became a teenager he would have to face the choice of being “black” or “white,” and that either choice would be very costly for him (and also for me). That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.

    That phrase, “willing to take the chance on loving and raising an adopted child …” just boggles my mind. So he’s only willing to take this chance if he believes the child will have the “right” sort of identity? He mentions Roland Fryer in this response. Fryer is also mentioned in Freakonomics; he’s an African American academic who was raised in less-than-ideal circumstances. Held up by the authors as an example of how black people can turn out right, I guess.

    Response #18 from D bears reading:

    “That same sort of racial “all or nothing” choice is not at play for Asian youths in our society.”

    Really?

    I think you need to do some further investigation with this because you might be missing much. Here is a good link to get you started…
    http://relativechoices.blogs.nytimes.com/ and they have links to blogs of other transracial/asian adoptees.
    Honestly any child of a different race than their adoptive parents is going to be at some level of conflict with it, much also depends on the individual child.
    To be blunt, you might just find your notion of a happy and compliant chinese child is blown to bits one day.
    The belief that asians are more adaptable to being raised in a white community/family (or at the very least not as angry about it)really comes from white and racially biased views.
    Whites view asians as more compliant, more at ease with being associated with whites. Whites also tend to regard blacks (most especially males) with more fear and see them as hostile and untrustworthy in relation to whites.
    The personality, inherited mental health issues, and how the growing up experience is personally viewed by the child can never be predicted as simply as what (safe) country you choose to adopt from.

    I am a white parent of a black child. While I know this journey will demand additional strengths from him (and me) I do not for one second feel he needs to choose to be ‘white’ in order to choose to love me as his parent.
    It really almost sounded as if you are expecting your children to ‘choose’ to be white, as if they even could or would want to.

  4. Pingback: Freaking out over Freakonomics at Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

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