I’m here to apologize to my brothers and sisters of color — my white daughter’s pale skin has brought me nothing but shame. I have failed as an ally.
For if whiteness is the root cause of systemic racism, then what does that make me for having a white child? How can I extol the virtues of anti-racism and dismantle white supremacy while simultaneously birthing another white person? These two seem incompatible. If I were truly honoring my commitment to decolonizing white spaces, I would have had my tubes tied or had myself euthanized and done the BIPOC community and the planet a favor. I’m such a coward.
My therapists will have their work cut out for them this week. “Love is love,” unless you fall in love with a cishet white male. Then love isn’t love — it’s white privilege.
During my pregnancy, I caught myself fantasizing about the child coming out Black. My husband and I talked about adopting, but after watching that fascist Amy Coney Barrett parade her Black children in front of America at her Supreme Court confirmation hearing to prove she’s not just a racist bootlicker for the Patriarchy, we reconsidered. After all, does a Black child in a white family not perpetuate the cycle of white supremacy?
The Exalted One Ibram X. Kendi thinks so. “Some White colonizers ‘adopted’ Black children,” he writes. “They ‘civilized’ these ‘savage’ children in the ‘superior’ ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.”
Shortly after I first read this, I got pregnant. My white guilt consumed me. During those nine months, I did the work, preparing to raise an anti-racist baby. After an arduous process, we decided to call her Robin. We thought maybe that by giving her the name of the greatest ally BIPOC people have had, we could set her on the right path. That reminds me: I should check and see if Professor DiAngelo ever responded to my email asking if she would be godmother.
I thought I would feel love when I first saw Robin, but all I felt was contempt. The “check your privilege” onesie I bought from a Black-owned business on Etsy is a constant reminder that not everyone has equal access to healthcare, or Etsy.
The experts encourage newborns to look at high-contrast black and white images. I’m afraid my child only sees the white. I can see the bigotry in her eyes. She naturally makes the “OK” sign with her tiny, newborn fingers. When I told my pediatrician I was worried that this might be her expressing solidarity with the alt-right, he said that’s just a reflexive action. My suspicion is that it goes much deeper than that. We come out of the womb knowing the white power symbol. It’s ingrained in our colonizer DNA.
Eating whenever she demands. Constantly needing other people to clean up after her. Demanding to be bounced and rocked. Robin is already well-versed in the art of centering herself. She’s learning how to use her white-woman tears to get her way and oppress people. Like her nanny. (We tried desperately to find a Black nanny but had to settle for a Latinx.) When Robin cries, María picks her up. This is what they mean when they say, “watch whiteness work.”
Robin is only a month old but I’m ashamed to admit she hasn’t played with any children of color yet. Her refusal to listen to her Antiracist Baby audiobook and cry instead further demonstrates the long road we as parents must travel in order to deconstruct her ingrained racist identity. I tried reading passages from White Fragility to calm her, but she only wails harder. My friends claim it’s colic, but what do they know? A much likelier explanation is that she’s expressing her white rage at being confronted with her racism.
In this house we don’t use white noise to drown out the Blackness of the night. I make her sleep in complete silence to better contemplate her privilege. She needs to learn young that “doing the work” means living the struggle daily.
Could she follow the glowing examples of Rachel Dolezal and Jessica Krug and identify as Black? We’ll cross that bridge when her hair grows long enough to try box braids. I can already sense that she already feels uncomfortable in her body, what with all that squirming around. Fingers crossed she’ll be trans. I mean, they’ll be trans. We’re working on their speech so they can tell us in a couple of years. If not — well, good thing I’m in California and I still have time to decide if I want an abortion.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s August 2022 World edition.