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A Reponse to the Rookie Moms’ Request for a “Dark-Skinned” Baby

In the middle of marathon C-SPAN viewing this afternoon, I decided to glance at Twitter to get some reprieve from the ridiculousness that is the current state of Congress. And what did I see?

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Really, Rookie Moms? REALLY?

As it turned out Twitter did not have the calming effect that I had hoped for instead I found myself riled up and putting on armor to endure another discussion on privilege, ignorance and what is appropriate/inappropriate when discussing people of color.

I feel like this has been a constant as of late where there is a disconnect when it comes to issues of race. Sometimes I want to tap folks on the shoulder and suggest that they befriend a person of color. And not just to be able to say “I have a black friend and s/he said it’s OK!” but because asking and having a PRIVATE conversation on what could be deemed offensive by the general public is healthy for one’s overall worldview. And for their twitter mentions.

Upon being called out for their offensive tweet the Rookie Moms didn’t get why people were so upset and went on to suggest a bowling ball or a Magic 8 ball for Halloween costumes. The possibilities for your dark-skinned little darling are endless!

 

Hours after the initial tweet an apology comes from the moms:

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An apology issued hours later after a lunch break. An apology that was met with equal parts dismay and reassurances that the Rookie Moms are not racist at all! Because they’re from the Bay Area and thus making them uber-progressive.

Thanks but no thanks.

Let me break it down for Heather and Whitney: You were wrong. Your apology was far too little and far too late. While I do not believe that you are racists and parading down the street in white sheets, I do believe that you are ignorant and your white privilege is obvious. The latter was painfully clear when you were unable to recognize why and how what you said elicited dozens of replies of dismay and eye-rolling. Instead of asking you seemed to shrug it off and state that you were only trying to achieve some level of diversity in your bald baby Halloween costume post. Gosh. While lovely you should know that the color of one’s skin isn’t some accessory or commodity for your blog post. We are people. You could have crowd-sourced and asked for general suggestions from other parents on what they would do for Halloween but you didn’t. You took it upon yourself to not only offend a few hundred of people but then you suggested even more intentionally (and now I think it’s intentional because surely you have noticed that you are pissing people off) inflammatory. A black baby as a Magic 8 ball? There is no way you could have been serious. But you still didn’t get it. You said nothing save for half-ass explanations as to your wrong-doing instead of just saying sorry. I’d like for you to go back through your mentions and read the responses. Are you getting it yet? I’m frustrated with you after months of frustration with so many simply due to lack of awareness. Everyone has these moments and they are unavoidable as they are way for each of us to learn from one another but the key to having these moments not end in absolute flames is learning and taking the time to seriously ask yourselves why others might be upset, what could be done differently and to apologize with a swiftness. But that’s not what you did.

I’m thinking that you will – if you haven’t already – learn from this situation. I hope that you garner a bit of understanding and possibly empathy to a large group of people that is continually marginalized and realize that what you thought would be an innocuous tweet wasn’t seen as such by so many. Think before you speak next time, use this opportunity to learn. I know that you both have done a lot of good with your writing and it is my sincerest hope that you are able to move forward.

Keep the conversation going with Heather Barmore at Poliogue: The Art of Political Dialogue, Twitter and Facebook.

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