Last week I put up a silly little post with Annabel wearing different wigs. Many of you left comments asking about all the wigs, so I explained where they came from, and how I hope Annabel will love dressing up and using her imagination. In the comments, a reader left information for me about using the word Indian, and how wearing a costume like the one I posted a picture of was not politically correct. It was stuff I hadn’t thought of, especially when I was the 22-year-old version of me wearing it. I changed the word “Indian” to “Native American” immediately, because the last thing I ever want to do is offend.
Unfortunately, this reader thought I deleted her comment (I hadn’t), and instead of asking why her comment wasn’t showing up (not sure why, since I saw it), she left another, rather intense comment taking me to task for only looking at things from my perspective of “white middle class privilege.” To drive home her point, she said:
…if there was a blog where someone had posted pictures of premie (sic) babies making fun of their appearance, or the struggles of their families … maybe dressed up in a Halloween costume as a “premie” (sic) baby with wires, and tubes, bugged out eyes, torn skin and mocking (however innocently) the REALITY that you faced with your pregancies (sic) and daughters, you would say something, wouldn’t you? You would say “Hey that’s rude and hurtful to ME and my family.”
Now. This is where I got mad. It’s too bad she decided to go this route, because her points? Very valid. But assumptions…well, you know what they say about them. I am very aware that I have not personally experienced racial discrimination. People close to me have been the targets of hatred and bigotry. I have cried over things people have said about my twin brother and the rights he does not have. I am related to people who experience these things, just like this commenter, who is white but has daughters who are First Nations.
Dressing like a Native American when I was 22 was not to make fun of their appearance – in fact, I was trying to look hot for a guy (Mike). Was it an inappropriate costume? I see now that it was. I wouldn’t wear it again (even though, ironically, the wig is a Hippie Wig). But her example of a preemie costume is so over the line that you can’t even SEE the line anymore. I don’t think I have to go into how disgusting her description of premature babies is.
Later, the commenter replied to me with this:
…my point was to show that costuming one person’s tragic reality is just as wrong as appropriating a historical dress so disrespectfully and without even THINKING that its (sic) offensive to the person being portrayed.
…You are willing to demand that respect for premie (sic) babies and their families (which I HUGELY encourage and is TOTALLY right) but why is it wrong to point out when someone is mocking or making light of the history of MY child as well?
My child died because of prematurity. It is listed as a cause of her death. I have thousands of readers who have children that were born premature – and many of those readers’ children didn’t make it because they were born too soon. Prematurity – a killer medical condition – is NOT the same as race. And you’re damn right I’m looking at this from my perspective.
Also, can someone please tell me how race is a tragic reality? Really, truly, I want to understand this. I thought your race and heritage are things to be proud of, not things that are tragic. (Don’t get me wrong, I understand the injustices that many races have endured). Annabel will be raised with an interest in her own diverse heritage, and an understanding that no one is better than anyone else. That’s how I was raised, and that is what I believe.
I have great, amazing readers who sprang to my defense in the comments. Some went a bit too far, and I emailed them, as I do with MANY of my commenters on a daily basis. Someone suggested that I do a better job of moderating my comments, but here’s the thing – I don’t like to moderate comments. If I did, I wouldn’t have allowed her intense comment through to begin with and the whole hullabaloo could have been avoided. But I DID remove most of the links to her blog, because I didn’t want her to get flamed. Some people found her blog anyway, but it didn’t matter – she DOES moderate comments and does not post dissenting opinions. Her blog, her prerogative. That’s just not how I prefer to operate if it can be avoided.
I love when people are passionate about what they believe in, when they are respectful. What a truly amazing and interesting conversation we could have had in the comments! Perhaps we can have it today.