Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Will Mitt Romney's Black Grandchild Inspire Him to Fight the Republican Party's Racism? And Did You Know that Mitt Romney's Black Grandchild's Name Means "Small Dark One?"

Two final quick thoughts about the Mitt Romney Melissa Harris-Perry joking about black adopted children kerfuffle.

In reading the comments at the Daily Kos and Alternet in response to my essay on this whole faux drama, I was moved to ask some additional questions.

Allowing for the trolls and white racists who populate those spaces, there seemed to be some legitimate hurt and confusion over the very basic puzzle that I offered--one which Salon's Britney Cooper and the Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates also picked up on as well.

As demonstrated by his use of white racial appeals in the 2012 election, Mitt Romney traffics in white identity politics and white racism. Mitt Romney was also the presidential nominee of a political party that is the United States' largest white identity organization, as well as being the present day heir to the Confederate States of America. Mitt Romney also practices a religion that until several weeks ago overtly discriminated against black people because they are "stained", and thus their souls are not equal to those of white people.

How does one reconcile such beliefs and habits with the Romney family's choice to adopt a black child? A broader question: will having a black child in his family cause Mitt Romney to reevaluate his own personal politics and negative attitudes about the African-American community?

To my eyes, these are basic and fundamental questions. They are not complicated. For some, either because of political naivete, a deep investment in the white racial frame, or just white privilege fueled ignorance, such questions are impossible to conceive...never mind to answer.

When a parent discovers that their child or grandchild is gay or lesbian for example, this can personalize an issue and cause a transformation in thinking. Am I hoping too much that Mitt Romney, a person who I still believe is sociopathic, will be able to triangulate his love for his grandchild with being a member of a political party that has racist contempt for black Americans? Will Mitt Romney evolve into a voice of reason that challenges the conservative movement's embrace of white racism?

Here is a final random factoid to consider. Mitt Romney's adopted black grandchild's name is "Kieran". This could be the child's birth name--which I hope is the case. Or Kieran could be the name chosen by the Romney family. The child's name is Celtic. Apparently, the name is an homage to an Irish Saint. Interestingly, Kieran also translates as "small dark one".

I do not believe that the Romney family--assuming they did--intentionally named a black child "small dark one". They were more likely compelled by the religious overtones of the name Kieran. However, such a coincidence is a signal to the type of racial myopia that white privilege can often bring, where there is often no sit down or conversation about the social meaning and power of Whiteness, and the particular challenges that come with adopting and raising a young black or brown child in a racist society.

Ultimately, the "controversy" about Melissa Harris-Perry and Mitt Romney's black grandchild is channeling questions and insecurities about "transracial" adoption in a country that has still not resolved basic issues about the relationship between the colorline, white supremacy, and life chances.


Wavenstein said...

Fuck Romneys racist robot ass. Any word on when that interview with the white supremacist will take place?

chauncey devega said...

Your mental Rolodex is pretty deep. Impressive. There is a whole ugly history in the U.S. of giving black and brown children as "gifts" as either living dolls or pet slaves to white folks.

chauncey devega said...

I have 2 more to do and he is up then. Once it is done and edited--sooner rather than later--I will post it. Should be interesting.

Bryan Ortez said...

I take it one bit at a time. There's a Buddhist thing, the twelve links of dependent origination. Everything begins with ignorance.


I accept that I am actually very stupid. I am an idiot. I do not originally know anything. From there, I go and examine what I seek to know.

Bryan Ortez said...

also, having Google really helps when I already know at least where to start. I can do some quick research to flesh out the details.

Carl Martin said...

You people are sick to the bone and I do not mean it in a good way. They adopted a child and are willing to love it help it grow and all you can do is mock them. They were not looking for anything for doing this and all I see is your hate towards them for doing so, what a bunch of bigots you are.

Learning Is Eternal said...

I'm w/you there. If I knew everything I would question nothing.
And I question everything...

Learning Is Eternal said...

Quick, before your comment disappears...
Your statement reads like an antebellum excuse/justification for slavery or any horror-core surprise that awaits your black 'guest'.
"You were backward. You were uncivilized with a foolish religion" are just some classic examples **LIES** massaged into our scalp like creamy crack.
Who's to say what the level of attention/care that will be provided to the lad?
Just don't act like anything in this post has no truth or merit and that the adoption of black babies in droves by wp has no relation or similarities to the experience & trade of Africans of antiquity, here, in amurr'KKKlan.
Enjoy your visit @WARN where the truth is always welcome.

chauncey devega said...

It is January 7th 2014. I pronounce this leave a troll's comment in the comments section day. Hopefully others will make good sport of your silliness.

Black Romulan said...

Dude, first off the child is not an "it" but a "him"; if you're that concerned for the future millionaire at least acknowledge the kid is not an object first.
And, yes, one of Mitt's kids adopted a black son (not Mitt himself). Good on Mitt's offspring for being that progressive. You know, GEORGE Romney was pretty progressive, too. Apparently such traits tend to skip generations because Willard Mitt Romney had little to nothing positive to say to and about black folks when he was running for the presidency. He doesn't earn free tolerance points just because someone related to him has a more open mind, kid.
As for the bigot remark, it would sting to the core if it were at all true or had I thought you, some random guy, were a credible critic. I can see you're in pain, but that got zip to do with me or any folk here, I'm afraid. Culture shifts can be hard to cope with sometimes; you have my sympathies..

Bryan Ortez said...

And the politics of this media sensation isn't even about the Romney's, it's about Melissa Harris-Perry. She apologized for remarks made by a guest on her show within the time span of a minute, a very heartfelt apology. One she felt was needed. Obviously a good many people can't let that go.

It's proof that folks are racist because they have something to say about a white family adopting a black child?

This child will experience many of the internalized American forms of racism (or if you prefer prejudice) from his majority white peers, teachers, even members of his own family.

Here's one experience:

And that doesn't even cut to the heart of it that being black is not bad in America. If you learned anything from this blog it should be that in the cultural imagination of America, white by default is good, black by default is not as good. That is perhaps the core of this conversation people are trying to correct.

gates said...

When this pretend "scholar" isn't boasting or some or another deviant sexual proclivity, he's a full time race-baiting idiot with little in the way of useful knowledge or information to offer.

His demonization of white folks would make even the Hon. Elijah Muhammad blush. Yet, this noxious little worm who has never done an honest days work in his entire life, has the nerve to pretend this is an integrated "proletarian" space.

Justin M. White said...

Actually there's good reason to look critically at ultra-religious families going out of their way to adopt children of color, particularly in the case of international adoptions.


skip said...

lol, not even honest about the troll's comment offer either.

wawoo said...

Romney's adoption is of a piece with the Americanized version of Western European Christian culture still being the standard of civilization. I have noticed among the Fundementalist Christian sects of varying denominations a trend toward adopting brown skinned/dark skinned or Russian children as a means to proselytize. Then the much underreported I suspect cases of where the children have issues or even more often where the adoption family has issues and the children end up suffering in many ways for it. The Romney family certainly has the means to deal with any issues except the recognition that they do not understand the lives of most Americans of whatever color or background.

The Sanity Inspector said...

I thought it was very gracious how Romney accepted Harris-Perry's apology. Contrast that to how George Bush The Elder blew up at some ninnies trying to gin up a scandal about his grandchildren--in the middle of the '88 presidential campaign, at that.

The Sanity Inspector said...

Still SMH at how apparently everyone at MSNBC thought it would make good television to poke fun at a baby picture. Internet trolls are everywhere and on all sides, of course. But what is it about underage children of Republican politicians that destroys the good judgment of nationally known liberals?

chauncey devega said...

"what is it about underage children of Democratic politicians that destroys the good judgment of nationally known conservatives?" easy rewrite. Chelsea Clinton, the Obama's kids. Heck the Right even turned on McCain's kid.

Are you hitting that Fox News jenkem again?

Bryan Ortez said...

Do you think Devega's analogy of politics as professional wrestling is apt for the current state of political dialogue?

I remember often in my teenage years when taunting was common among my peers, my taunts usually came too harsh. I upset a number of friends by taking something too far.

I think MHP fell short in the conversation she could have brought up, but again it was a short segment and it was supposed to be a humorous one.

A lot of people on the left were not happy with it. I didn't think it was funny, a number of Devega's readers don't think it was funny.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

How do you deal with your racism?
Are you perpetually affronted by your own racism every time you see a white person?
Are you daily challenged to try and right the wrongs of your fellow negros? When you see negros acting like the animal sub-species they are - raping, murdering and stealing, do you feel a need to intercede to right these transgressions?

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

There is a whole ugly history - in fact ongoing - in Africa of mutilation and cannibalism of blacks on blacks.
You should do a study on the lack of civility, morality and justice in black dominated African nations.

obamasucksreggielovesballs said...

Do you question Obama's sexual orientation?
Do you question Obama's motive behind bankrupting the USA?
Do you question Obama's use of executive orders to strip Americans of their rights and freedoms?

Bryan Ortez said...

what the fuck you're racist like crazy.

Bryan Ortez said...

Does thinking about Obama and Reggie Love gettin freaky turn you on every time you log into your profile? I got to be in denial.

chauncey devega said...

I will leave that comment up. Good one. Makes one wonder about the projection issues going on there.

The Sanity Inspector said...

If one limits oneself to shout shows on cable TV and the coarser talk radio hosts, yes; it's an apt analogy. A pair of intellectuals trading broadsides in the pages of Commentary and Dissent will probably be somewhat higher toned. I've been online for nearly 20 years, and have spent the last several of those unlearning bad netiquette that I soaked up in my usenet days. I am no stranger to pack mentality. And surely anyone who comments on current affairs for a living is going to step in it from time to time, that's just the law of averages. But when, as MSNBC seems prone to do, one faction which congratulates itself on its superior compassion, wisdom and command of the facts commits such a foolhardy stunt as this, well...Groupthink is a powerful thing. At least Dr. Harris-Perry had the good sense to apologize immediately & without reservation.

There are no wise few. Every aristocracy that has ever existed has behaved, in all essential points, exactly like a small mob. ~ G. K. Chesterton

Bryan Ortez said...

Sorry for cussing on your website in my other comment to him. I had to read it a few times to get what they were saying that type of ribald racism just produces such revulsion in me..

Welcome to Democracy in America, where the coarsest most ignorant racists elevate themselves above decent intellectual conversation and thought. Thank you, Internet, for bringing us closer together.

Frank said...

The first question in the title of this post intrigued me. It's too late in the evening for me to read through all the comments here, so I'll just jump in with my own answer to the that question.

Which is a resounding NO.

Genteel racists (in which I would group Mitt Romney) do not realize that they are racist. Their racism is un- or subconscious. They can blow the dogwhistle without realizing or admitting to themselves that there is a dogwhistle between their lips.

They can love the individual while hating (or, to put it more accurately, disdaining) the group.

As I've mentioned elsewhere, I grew up white under Jim Crow. When my brother was born, Mrs. Bertha Collins, a black lady (though we did not use the "Mrs." or the "Collins" in addressing her in those days) took care of me while my parents were at the hospital. When the Collinses managed to buy their own house, my family was among the first invited to visit and tour it. On an individual level, there was affection and respect between the families, but they were still black and we were still white.

My father (who was not a virulent racist, but who had grown up a child of segregation (and who taught us to be equally polite to everyone, a lesson that has stood me well) used to point out to us during the civil rights movement in the 1960s that, in the South, white folks could like black individuals, but hate the group, whereas, in the north, folks could like the group and spurn the individuals. (And he was accurate. The most segregated cities I have ever visited are Boston and Chicago.)

Late in his life, in discussing something that had to do with segregation, my father said to me, "I'm glad those days have passed."

But they haven't passed, though the world is much different from the one in which he grew up.

And I am confident that Romney is as incapable of realizing the extent to which his campaign relied on racist dogwhistles as he is incapable of connecting the existence of that adopted child to how he conducted his campaign.

White racism incorporates many things, but one of those things is always compartmentalization--an inability or refusal to connect public behavior and private behavior. It's the "one of my best friends is black" syndrome.

The most pernicious bigots are not clothed in sheets--the sheet wearers are terrorists who advertise their bigotry. The most pernicious--they are the ones who loudly proclaim that they are not bigots, even as their behavior demonstrates otherwise.

No, Mitt Romney will learn no lessons from the existence of his black grandchild. He considers himself not racist and cannot see how his public behavior, and that of his campaign, can possibly perceived as anything but completely and totally non-discriminatory and even-handed. I am confident that he sees himself as a man of good will.

It's sad, really--not being able to learn from one's own experiences.

chauncey devega said...

Got cosign this one w. a capital "C"-- "The Romney family certainly has the means to deal with any issues except the recognition that they do not understand the lives of most Americans of whatever color or background."

Class will trump race for them. The 1% live in their own moral universe.

Frank said...

I can agree. Mr. Romney acted politely.

d mcg said...

Great content as usual, but one minor quibble: it isn't fair to take the meaning of the Irish name 'Kieran' and substitute the 'black' in that meaning, which specifically in that context means dark in the pensive, aloof, mysterious, etc. way and substitute that for 'black' in the racial sense.

To then go on and say, "However, such a coincidence is a signal to the type of racial myopia
that white privilege can often bring.." without acknowledging your own racial myopia in how you chose to define a name created centuries ago by Irish people in a 99.999 percent white culture is a bit unfair.

chauncey devega said...

Good point on how language changes. My point was that it is racial myopia and whiteness run amok to not say to themselves hmmm, maybe naming a kid "black" or "dark" is a bit problematic. Your point is even more interesting, what is so mysterious, pensive, or aloof about a little black baby?

d mcg said...

As much pleasure as I'm getting out of thinking about what could possibly be found to be mysterious about the child, I just don't think the Romney's put that much thought the name. They probably just picked it out of a Christian child naming book.

It was just so strange that child was named Kieran (root Ciarán)
of all possible names, when its a name that I did a lot of specific research on that name alone when writing a character...

Christopher James said...

The black grandchild is just a living, breathing political move. And by the time he's old enough to know it, he'll already be indoctrinated. He'll hate black people just as much as his grandfather. Mitt Romney wont change, because the only reason the kid was adopted was so he could pretend he was never racist to begin with. And you can say, but his KID actually adopted the child, Mitt had nothing to do with it... I say bullshit. When you're involved in politics, your wife and kids become used to posing for photographs and showing a united front and sacrificing everything for the campaign on a daily basis. That's what they've been raised to do, and if Mitt Romney tells one of his kids they're going to adopt a black child, they fucking do it. And that's how it went down, I bet you any amount of money. Sad, but true.