Can it get worse than this? During the debate in the Indiana House over the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act, state Rep. Vanessa Summers, (D-Indianapolis) rose to set a new record in outrageous race-baiting.
“I told [Republican colleague] Jud McMillin I love his son, but he’s scared of me because of my color.”
Responding to a rumble of protest from her assembled colleagues, Summers insisted, “It’s true.” When challenged on the assertion later. she defended her accusation, saying:
“He (the eighteen-month-old child) looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him (McMillin) you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared.”
There are so many take-aways from this episode that it’s difficult to know where to begin, or where to stop.
I have no doubt that Summers is sincere, which means she is so handicapped by a distrust of whites nurtured by her personal experiences with racism that she can no longer rationally or logically interpret reality. One can only conclude that a woman who interprets a baby crying when introduced to a stranger as proof of racism is likely to interpret anything as racism. How terrifying to go through life like that.
Is Indiana really so oppressive to African-Americans that they all live in constant suspicion of racial hatred, seeing “micro-aggression” in every interaction with whites, even children and infants? Not only are individuals so scarred inherently untrustworthy themselves, they are also unfit for elected office. This is pathological race-sensitivity.
There are also few better examples of the tragic distortion of reason caused by confirmation bias. Summers already believes that white society is conditioned to fear blacks, so she sees confirmation of this belief in everything, even a baby crying. If a black colleague’s child burst into tears upon meeting her, Summers would attribute it to the strange environment or an unfamiliar adult. This is no different, at its core, from assuming that when a white cop shoots an unarmed white suspect, it is excessive force, but when a white cop shoots Michael Brown, it is obviously racism. Both are rooted in confirmation bias.
Even if Summers’ race-based derangement caused her to be convinced that an infant thinks blacks are “monsters,” using a fellow legislator’s child as a tool of advocacy in a debate was unfair, unprofessional, and repulsive. Summers has represented the 99th District since 1991; has she learned nothing about what is proper deportment and civility in the legislature? Apparently not.
Or is she simply incredibly ignorant about the nature of babies, as in not knowing that they, you know, cry? Legislators write laws; they have to have a minimal understanding of basic facts of life: birds fly, people breathe air, babies cry. Lacking that, they cannot be expected to govern competently. The defense of “I wasn’t race-baiting, I’m an idiot!” is not available to a lawmaker.
This is just the most recent of the endless depressing examples of incompetence in state and local law-making bodies. Last week, for example, Republican Arizona State Sen. Sylvia Allen opined on the floor of the Arizona Senate that the solution to America’s “moral crisis” was for the government to make church attendance mandatory. So–has she never read the Bill of Rights (lack of diligence and irresponsible), does she not believe it should be respected and that citizens do not have a right to live their life as they please ( totalitarian mindset and defiance of the Golden Rule), or does she not comprehend what liberty, rights, and religious freedom mean (too dumb to live)? Whichever of these disturbing explanations are true, she does not belong in a legislature, and by the evidence of the news reports (and remember that the media tends to let the statements of idiotic Democrats slide),there are thousands of such entitled fools polluting state laws.
Only one of them, however (I hope!), thinks that a baby’s cries are evidence of racism.
61 thoughts on “Tales of the Indiana State Legislature: “Your Baby Is A Racist!””
When I heard this story I cringed and cried. Confirmation bias?
Talk to Charles. But be nice.
Wait..you cried? Oh-oh…racist alarm!
Jack, you are deep in your own confirmation bias and are way over-reacting.
It is entirely possible that an 18-month old child who has never seen a human with dark skin might be startled and cry. The same could happen if they saw anything outside their entire life-to-date identification of a human. How about a person with one eye? A person with severe jaundice, or bruised coloration?
You implicitly assume that infants are encoded at birth with an abstract concept of “human” that is perfectly independent of any distinctive racial characteristics, and I don’t think you’ll find child psychologists who’d agree. If a child has never had experience with another race, how are they to interpret that as being different from someone with camouflage makeup, or from a circus clown, both of which would also probably make a baby cry?
Have you not heard of Remote African tribes and how they react in seeing blondes? The natives in Mexico on seeing Spanish soldiers on horseback assumed they were centaur-like creatures.
This stuff is not unborn, it’s imprinted. And by the way, did the lady actually call the baby racist, or is that you imposing your confirmation bias about black Demicrats in the subject of racism?
How is your opinion not completely dependent on a view of child development that presumes an infant is intuitively capable of distinguishing between “human” and “race” even without any prior experience? You are going Chomsky way one better here.
Charles, really. This is ridiculous. The point is that babies cry, there are a million reasons why this baby cried, and there was no justification for the woman to assert that the reason was lack of exposure to other dark skinned individuals. Does she know that her colleague doesn’t have a dark-skinned nanny? Dark-skinned neighbors? Does she know why the baby cried? Maybe he needed to be changed. Maybe she has breath that would melt the chrome on a BMW. Maybe she has a loud, sharp voice. Maybe she pinched him so she could make this scurrilous accusation. Maybe he saw into the fourth dimension and there was a demon over her shoulder. You don’t know, she doesn’t know, and we can’t ask the kid. So it’s ethical for her to say as FACT that the kid cried because his father hasn’t exposed the child to enough black people? In a legislative debate? You cannot possibly believe this.
My son wouldn’t cry at any strangers, including the Phantom of the Opera. As an infant, my sister famously cried when ever she saw my MOTHER. I didn’t write that it’s impossible that the kid cried because of this despicable and paranoid woman’s color—I wrote that it was inexcusable, uncivil, unprofessional race-baiting for her to assert on the legislature floor that it was.
You’ve earned a “GET OUT OF COMMENTER JAIL FREE” card, and you just played it.
All I know is what you wrote–a woman reported out her interpretation of a baby’s reaction. Between the two of us, you and I just came up with a dozen possible interpretations. I suggest it’s a huge stretch to draw a definitive conclusion based on that barebones data, particularly given its a woman and a baby, much less attribute racist motivations to the woman. Way unsupported by the data, at least as you have presented it.
And just to be clear–dud she or did she not call the baby “racist,” as your headline would seem to suggest? I don’t see it in your rendition of events
Her statement “He (the eighteen-month-old child) looked at me like I was a monster and turned around and cried. And I told him (McMillin) you need to introduce your child to some people that are dark-skinned so he will not be scared.” Is very clear. How can you interpret that any way OTHER than she is accusing the child of being afraid of African Americans, and her father for making him so? Please: show me the best way to interpret this as anything but race-baiting.
First, your words were “racist,” not race-baiting. And she didn’t say that.
Second, there is a clear difference between a simple phenomenological description and a value-based characterization of it.
Imagine, “the baby appeared surprised and frightened by a heretofore unseen image, that of a human face painted in Day-glo orange.” No race-baiting there, right? Not a crazy idea, right?
Now substitute “black” for “orange.” What’s different? Nothing that I can see. But you somehow infer nefarious motives here–that she’s race-baiting, Valli g the baby a racist.
If she believed that the unaccustomed blackness of her face is what caused the baby to cry, then what language would you suggest she use to convey that concept?
You have to make a distinction between someone’s summe self-description and the injection of racism into a discussion.
There are two elements here: There baby’s reaction and the woman’s reaction to it. I don’t know why you’re so wrapped up in the baby’s reaction. The fact that the baby COULD have been reacting to the color of her skin is irrelevant. Even stipulating that this is the case, there was no way for anyone to know that. The issue is: the woman assumed that the baby reacted the way it did because she was dark skinned instead of the myriad other, more likely, reasons. Its no different than the time I got a dirty look for holding a door open for a person who happened to be female. Her bias led her to interpret my action as a manifestation of the patrirarchy when I thought I was just being polite to a stranger. The fact that it was possible for me (or the baby) to have those motives doesn’t make her assumption that I did have them any less unfair or bizarre.
Stipulate that she can’t know for sure what caused the baby to cry. But then neither can you or I, and of the three of us only she was there.
If the discussion was about discrimination, that makes perfect sense–she could well have been talking about this baby as an object example, as in, “I love this baby, but she was frightened of me because she hasn’t seen black people before; you should expose the baby to more people who look like me so she doesn’t get older and subject to prejudice.”
Did you see words to suggest she didn’t mean exactly this? Did you listen to her audio tape? Nowhere does she ever call a baby racist, and I don’t know how you can have black people participate in a discussion about racism if they’re not allowed to use “black” as a self-referential adjective without calling ” race card” on them.
We have a 2 year old and a 4 month old. The 4 month old doesn’t like being with ANYONE other than mom or dad or grandparents…that goes for whites & blacks.
The 2 year old went through a “stranger danger” phase around 12-18 months where EVERYONE other than mom and dad, including grandparents elicited tears and terror.
This congresswoman, I assume having some modicum of intelligence and experience, ought to know this. But no, she blamed it on race. She’s the knee jerk here. There’s no knee jerk in any of the analysis on this post.
My wife’s black co-workers (just like the white ones) made my children cry at about 12-18 months…
Lo and behold, at 2 years, the boy is completely cool with ALL the co-workers and that is with no major additional increase in exposure.
And the road goes on forever…
In the spirit of piling it on, another personal story- since anecdotal evidence is pretty much what this discussion has boiled down to- to further confound Charle’s pretzellized view of the world.
The same son I have already discussed- during his stranger danger phase, when he advanced to his new Sunday school room, for the 18 month to 2 year olds, one of his teachers is an African American lady. He cried the first day he went there (she missed that Sunday). The next Sunday, she was there and he went willingly to her whereas he’d cried with any other stranger.
Now, any Sunday she is absent, he always hesitates if she isn’t there.
Texagg, if she was the first black person your son met, then you’ve got a valid (anecdotal) counter-example to my claim.
My claim is not that children are frightened by one skin color, or one hair color, or facial hair, but by meeting someone different from what they’re accustomed to.
So, if seeing someone with black skin was not a new experience for your son, then it makes sense to me that he reacted at ease. If that lady was the first black person he’d met, then either she was very light-skinned, and/or your son is quite a psychologically self-at/ease child, and/or I’m wrong.
Nope, this discussion is all in reference to the situation that prompted the post. Unless you assert that the black legislator is the first black person the white legislator’s baby had ever met, then no, the sunday school teacher didn’t have to be the 1st my son had met to be a valid counter-example.
And your snide reference to it being anecdotal, as I already identified, doesn’t undermine it one bit. This entire discussion is anecdote based. You seem incapable of divorcing yourself from high school debate tactics.
As for your last sentence, she ISN’T light skinned, my son is a normal child (and I believe dragin-dragon has explained the psychology of young children, showing you to be wrong), and yes, you are wrong.
Texagg, I am indeed making an educated guess that the black legislator was the first black person the child had met. I could be wrong, of course – that is admittedly an assumption.
And I meant no snideness by the anecdotal reference, I’m agreeing with you that this is largely an anecdotal discussion; that’s also why I used the terminology of “counter-example,” because anecdotes can be used to falsify a generalized theory.
Also, I never claimed anyone was light-skinned, I merely listed that as among possible causes, to be logically complete. Sheesh. And I certainly never made ANY claim about the normality of your child or lack thereof.
As to Dragin-Dragon’s psychology comment, you’ll note that he later qualified it with respect to distinctly colored racial differences – Piaget did NOT do studies on that, according to DD.
Not to mention the multitude of commonsense examples I cited in a thread from real mothers facing real issues of surprise from real children – kids get surprised by experiences out of their normal range of experience, including faces that appear different from their experience. WHAT IS SO CONTROVERSIAL OR SO HARD TO GRASP ABOUT THAT SIMPLE OBSERVATION?
So I still don’t know where you get off claiming I’m wrong. I’m not.
I assume you didn’t read the 3 dozen or so other comments that show your glaring errors?
At the age of a year and a half, a child is old enough to recognize when someone is being hostile to its parent. And to be upset about it. Thankfully for the child’s sake, by the time he enters pre-school, the age when children are known to begin exhibiting knowledge of racial, ethnic, and social status DIFFERENCES (natural biases in favor of one’s own family, non-discrimination of everyone else not like onself, but still without any isms necessarily accrued), he won’t have any dumb bunnies like Vanessa Summers around to teach him how to hate and fear for no reason.
And where did you get the data that this woman exhibited hostility in the presence of the baby? That would be a horrible thing to do, and you are just assuming it. Why do you jump to that assumption?
I knew it wouldn’t take long for Charles to spew some drivel.
But here’s the issue. I think the baby is very wise. If I were a baby I’d be terrified of seeing a Democrat. I’d probably cry also.
Jack, I take it back. It’s not just you.
I’ve looked into this story and listened to the audiotape of her. It’s perfectly clear first that the context is a discussion about relevance of legislative agendas to various cultures. It’s also clear that she’s saying “I love this little baby, but this baby is also scared of me,” and she suggests that children be exposed to other races to ensure they don’t grow up prejudiced.
What the hell is wrong with that? And yet every story I see headlines the characterization of her as having called the baby racist.
She clearly said no such thing. But all the media I’m seeing accuse her of this falsehood, then use it to accuse her of “playing the race card.” And many commenters then call her racist, and worse.
You don’t even need a dog whistle anymore to call this nasty stuff out,
1. She did not call a baby racist–it’s clear she thinks the infant is a tabula rasa.
2. imIt’s a lie to suggest she said any such thing.
3. To pile on accusations of racism onto that lie is about as race-baiting as you can get.
You’re not alone on this Jack, but that company should be small comfort.
“I love this little baby, but this baby is also scared of me” clearly meant “…because I’m black.” It was her subsequent “clarification” that made the story. She said specifically that the baby looked at her like she was a “monster” because she was black.
“Because she was black” does not equal racist. Babies aren’t racist. It clearly meant simply “this kid is not used to seeing black faces, I have a black face,ergo the kid was scared by the sight of me.”
Where’s the racism in that?
Not in the baby’s brain, not in her words, and not in my reading of her audio tape. And yet you imply she called a baby “racist.”
What am I missing?
Come on. She specifically suggested that the child is afraid of blacks because her father does not associate with them. She did it in a discussion of discrimination. Discrimination on the basis of race is racism. This wasn’t a random comment. It was race-baiting AND an accusation of racism…and she stated that an infant was already treating a black woman as “the other” because she was conditioned to do so by her racist, Republican father.
To believe your theory, we would have to think that she just decided to tell everyone about an interesting developmental theory she had to the floor of the House on the spur of the monent, unrelated to the topic at hand—discrimination.
“this kid is not used to seeing black faces, I have a black face,ergo the kid was scared by the sight of me.” Again, You don’t see that automatically assuming the baby is reacting to her color belies a tendency to see racism in everything? What about when the cable guy is late? Or she hits all the stoplights on the way home? Or the toast falls butter side down? Is that because she’s black? Babies get scared and cry all the time for a thousand reasons. It’s a common event. I’m not saying she’s calling the baby racist, I’m saying that her knee jerk reaction to interpret the baby’s crying as being due to her skin color, belies the filter that she uses to interpret other, equally mundane events. She is seeing the world through race colored glasses.
Have a look at a discussion for new mothers and young mothers called Community Baby Center. There’s a six-page thread under the beginning titled post “My Daughter is Terrified of Black People.”
It’s a white mother who is horrified that her child seems to be afraid of black people. For over six pages, other mothers – black and white and brown – share their own tales of similar woes – all of them assuring the original poster that it is simply a matter of the child getting used to the new kinds of faces.
Here are a few sample responses:
“she will be ok he just looks different thats all..im african american and I have seen black babies act the same way around white people until they get used to them.My nephew used to stare at white people all the time..lol”
“It’s normal for babies not to like things that aren’t “normal” to them. If your whole family is blonde, a redhead would probably freak him out too.
“For example, my brother’s best friend growing up was a mix of American Indian, Asian and African American. His entire family was very dark skinned and dark haired. My brother is *very* redhaired, and every time he went to their house, the guy’s little sister would point at him and yell “Fire! Fire!” in her little baby voice. It was hysterical!”
“I was that way when I was little, even til I was like 5 cause I was only around white people were we live. I actaully have a mixed cousin and I wouldn;t hug him at out family reunion. I actually remember him saying “is it because I;m a boy or because I’m black” I was painfully shy though, and obviously I grew out of it. It was jst something different to me and caught me off guard, it isnt his fault, or the babies.”
“It’s definitely a stage and the other girls are right, when something/someone looks even a little different than they are used to, some of our babies are going to freak out! ”
And my favorite:
“Awww…poor thing! My cousin is black and she makes it a point to come around more often than the rest of my cousins. I’m assuming she’s been through this before with other babies in our family.
And it’s paying off. My LO LOVES her!”
Get the point? Kids freak out over whiskers, red hair, and different color skins – if they’re not used to seeing them. The antidote? These mothers all suggest, “Expose the kid to black people more.” Which is, you guessed it, exactly what Rep. Summers recommended.
Go look up this site yourself: there are dozens of examples of exactly what Rep Summers is talking about.
And yet all you on this site somehow decided that you KNOW what’s going on, and it’s racism. Dragign-dragon, you say no one called the child a racist – except the headline of this blogpost, which has, in quotes, “Your Baby is a Racist!” Who are we supposed to believe is supposedly saying that? The whole commentary thread here is about how Summers is blaming the father (she didn’t), how she’s race-baiting (she isn’t), how she’s discriminating (she isn’t.).
I’d like to know why all of you jump to the conclusion that this is race-baiting activity, when it seems clear as a bell to me she’s just a mother who has had experience before with children, and most likely white children, and was reacting in totally normal way for someone who’s had that kind of experience; just like all these other mothers.
Remember, as Jack pointed out, the context in which this is happening is a discussion about diversity. She chose an example of how if we’re not careful to provide kids diverse examples, they become prey for prejudice. It amazes me that the example she took could be so wildly misinterpreted by y’all.
WHY did that not occur to you? Why did you all go straight to the race-baiting meme? Why did you not see this situation as identical to any other baby’s mother facing the same situation?
Yeah, and I’d put a ton on money that all those parents’ children cried with ANY color of stranger… they just noticed when of opposite color, because they too are hyper-sensitive to race. A malady almost as worrisome as racism itself.
I went back and read my post trying to perceive it from your perspective. The facts just don’t lead where you’re trying to get them to go. Is it possible she wasn’t implying that the Republican was racially biased and passing his bias on to his son? Is it conceivable that she just picked race out of the air to illustrate the sound principle that a more diverse community is healthier and happier for all? It’s possible. It’s also possible that she was briefly possessed by a wise, Asian consultant who died in 2001. But try as I may to see it, I don’t buy it at all. Here’s the brief:
1. They weren’t discussing diversity. They were debating whether the religious freedom law was an open door to discrimination. Discrimination is biased conduct, or if it is not (if it is dictated by religious belief), it is seen as biased conduct by those discriminated against.
2. Summers was taking the side of opponents to the law who, as anyone whose read the attacks on must concede, claim that it proves the inherent bigotry of the Republican party.
3. It was a personal, ad hominem attack on a colleague, and, outrageously, his child.
4.The assumption that one’s children take their cues from us is a universal belief, and she was invoking it. Translation: The child is a bigot; this true because his father is raising him that way; his father is a Republican member of this body; Republicans are passing this bill; Republicans are bigots; ergo the law is motivated by bigotry.
5. She didn’t talk about sociological studies, or what the benefits are for those who have a wide range of associates and neighbors. She said a child was afraid of her because of her color, as a fact. She could not possibly know that, yet she doubled down, and insisted it is true. That certitude cannot be explained of justified.
6. Her certainty that an unwarranted assumption at best was definitely true shows that this is not a sophisticated student of child psychology making a measured assessment, but a political hack defaulting to a racial attack to legitimize an opponent.
7. The “monster” reference is more proof. It is a hyperbole and pointed reference to the other, a not so subtle statement that McMillin, and hence his offspring, has a narrow view of humanity that regards non-white, non-conservatives as “monsters.” Did the baby go nuts, turn white with terror, act like Damien in “The Omen” as he approached the church, or did he just cry? I’ve seen a toddler get scared badly by a giant costumed thing at Disneyworld, and its not just crying, and it wouldn’t be triggered by mere skin color.
8. Race-baiting has been the official, favored, default weapon of choice for Democrats since 2008. It is still. It has been shamelessly injected into the political culture and national discourse at terrible cost to society as a cynical weapon to stifle and deligitimize criticism of dual incompetents who happen to be black, Obama and Holder, as well as to stigmatize the grass roots conservative movement sparked by Democratic steamrolling tactics that produced Obamacare as a racist movement. We still hear it daily, from Holder, from Michelle, from the Congressional Black Caucus, from columnists like Eugene Robinson, from the Daily Kos, from celebrities like Morgan Freeman, Oprah and Whoopie. If I turn on MSNBC< I will hear such an accusation within 10 minutes. The Democrats have been trained—this is their silver bullet, and they now resort to it predictably and routinely. And that's what she did. She was emulating the big boys in DC. The fish rots from the head down.
9. Occam's Razor. If you have to resort to quirky non-scholarly community discussion boards to explain such a comment when all apparent factors suggest the opposite explanation (There are the equivalent of "Community Alien Abductees Centers" too), you are trying too hard. Sure it's possible that she wasn't doing what thousands of Democrats, progressives and Obama defenders have been doing at every opportunity for 7 years, but that's not the simplest answer. And the simplest answer, unwelcome as it might be, is usually correct.
Jack, you need to try it again. Start with your point #3, which is flat out wrong (and which then pretty much invalidates every successive point).
You say she made an attack. She did no such thing. She made an observation. There is a difference.
Neither you nor I can say whether she was right, but her observation was simply that the child was scared by the sight of her.
You tell me – what words can someone choose to convey the sense that “the child was frightened upon seeing me” such that people don’t immediately start to demonize the speaker and proceed lightning speed to trashing an entire political party?
She. Made. An. Observation.
Therefore your point 4 is wrong. In no way did she suggest, imply, or indicate that the father was “at fault,” much less a bigot. She was making a simple observation, like all those mothers I pointed to, about the behavior of a child when faced with something new. Where do you get this “bigot” stuff? She. Made. An. Observation.
Therefore your point 5 is misleading at best. She didn’t say the child was afraid of her “because of her color,” but because her color was probably not well known to the child. (I’m assuming we can all agree that an 18-month old is not capable of being a bigot, and your implication that everyone but her knows it is offensive and insulting to her).
Your point 6 is based on a falsehood, and is just spluttering out of control assertions.
Your point 7 is wrong on its own. Her use of “monster,” if you listen to her actual words, is a simile, as in “the child reacted to me as if I were a monster,” i.e. strongly, with fear. There is no implication except in your mind that she is suggesting anyone “has a narrow view of humanity that regards non-white, non-conservatives as “monsters.”
And then you assert another falsehood, that fright like this “it wouldn’t be triggered by mere skin color.” Who are you to claim that? Especially after you’ve read counter-examples by dozens of mothers, who I’d suggest are a lot better suited than you to judge what can and cannot frighten a baby.
And so on. You want to invoke Occam’s razor, here it is.
In a discussion of how discrimination comes to be, she chose an example close at hand, and said in effect, “My friend, let’s look at the case of your own little lovely innocent baby; he was frightened by the sight of me, because I look different than what he’s used to. That’s not a problem now, but if he continues to grow up with no exposure to people like me, he will soon be exposed to discriminatory attitudes. If by then he has met more people like me, then he will be immune to those attitudes. But if not, he is at risk of being turned into a hater.”
I can’t prove what was in her heart, but neither can you, and I suggest this is a lot simpler explanation of the facts than the idea of an unprovoked, racially motivated hysterical attack.
“You implicitly assume that infants are encoded at birth with an abstract concept of “human” that is perfectly independent of any distinctive racial characteristics, and I don’t think you’ll find child psychologists who’d agree. ”
In actual fact, that is exactly what happens. See Jean Piaget, noted stage-theorist and child-development researcher (now deceased, more’s the pity). Penn is correct, in that attitudes about other people based on social status, income, sex, ethnicity and race really don’t become evident behaviorally until around 6 years. Bye-the-by, I’ll remind all that I am a retired psychologist.
In other words, children are, indeed, born prejudice-free. They learn attitudes from many sources, the parents being only one, but no 1 1/2 year old is afraid of anyone solely because he/she is black. To assume that he/she is afraid for that reason is the epitome of arrogance. While I would agree that she, the legislator, never actually said because I am black, that can be implied from context then, and in future explanations.
“In other words, children are, indeed, born prejudice-free. They learn attitudes from many sources, the parents being only one, but no 1 1/2 year old is afraid of anyone solely because he/she is black. To assume that he/she is afraid for that reason is the epitome of arrogance.”
I completely agree about “prejudice-free,” and I’m sure the woman does too. But you are conflating “racist” with “scared by a black face.” No baby is racist. I mean, everyone agrees on that. But any baby will be frightened by something IF it is outside their prior experience.
These are two totally different things. This is why the woman described the baby’s reaction as fear-based–not as “racist.” She DID NOT say “racist.” Yet here’s a blogpost with “racist baby” in quotes, implying that she said precisiely that, picking up clicks on the internet.
It is not the same thing, and it is inaccurate and Irresponsible to continue insinuating that she did.
You can’t ignore the context of the statement, Charles, which was the accusation that Indiana’s stupid law supported discrimination.
Not an insinuation, but an extrapolation. I assume that you know the difference.
A toddler, one and a half years old, cannot be a racist. It is literally an impossibility. No one, at any time that I am aware of, called the CHILD a racist. Nor did anyone claim that the legislator in question accused the child of racism. She did, however, accuse the father, who is a Republican, of raising his child away from black people, causing the kid to think she was a monster and implying that the child thought so because she was black. To assume that the child was frightened of her because she was a stranger is supposition, and is in direct opposition to her statement that she “loves your child”. If that is inaccurate, and she has had multiple contacts with the child, then we, of necessity, must begin to look at her behaviors while she is with the child. In any case, this woman was wrong and offended solely because a white baby, a toddler, was frightened of her. She made the assumption that it was because the father was racist, or not inclined to associate with black people (which is one definition of racist). I am inclined to say that her assumption was the faulty one, not the white Republicans, and certainly NOT Jack’s. I am also inclined to say, again extrapolating from later remarks of hers, that, if there is a racist in this mix, it is she, no one else.
And so far, I’ve seen no indication that she is disputing the consensus about her meaning. She just says it’s “true” (that the baby has been conditioned to fear blacks.)
“She did, however, accuse the father, who is a Republican, of raising his child away from black people, causing the kid to think she was a monster and implying that the child thought so because she was black.”
That is absolutely false. She didn’t “accuse” him of anything. She simply suggested that the child, like any of the average millions of white kids, happens to have had very little exposure to black faces, and hence is frightened upon seeing one. The suggestion she made, perfectly sensible, is to give the child more exposure to black faces going forward.
Why do you characterize this as an attack? Why do you infer an accusation? It is simply a fact in a de facto segregated country that the vast majority of kids, white and black, are not brought up with a lot of exposure to different kids. The perfectly logical result is that, when first encountering others who are different, there is some fear.
What words do you suggest she use to describe this phenomenon that don’t result in triggering the “she’s accusing” response?
Fairly simple, actually. “I’m a stranger, that’s all. He’ll get over it.” Same as any other rational person to whom this happened (by the way, I bet I could count on one finger the number of people that this HASN’T happened to at one time or another). But she couldn’t let this opportunity pass. She told the father that the child looked at her like she was a monster, and that he needed to expose the child to more black people. I’m sorry these facts do not fit your belief that all white people are racists, all the time, and black people not only aren’t racist, but CAN’T be, but that’s life. Learn to cope.
Dragin_dragon, I respect and defer to your knowledge of Piaget, with the possible exception of race (did Piaget actually do studies on race involving perception of dark skinned people and children? If so, how would he deal with the counter-examples of all the mothers I mentioned in another section here?)
[To that point, here’s a study called A Longitudinal Study of White Children’s Racial Prejudice as a Social Cognitive Development. It examined white kids from 6 to 9, and concluded that the youngest kids were more prejudiced against blacks and native americans than the older kids, presumably because the older kids had by then had more exposure to actual children of other races. This doesn’t suggest infants are born racist, but it does suggest the vulnerability of children to hateful ideas if they are not inoculated by actual exposure to others early in life. Which is, coincidentally, precisely Ms. Summers’ point.]
You say, “To assume that the child was frightened of her because she was a stranger is supposition, and is in direct opposition to her statement that she “loves your child”. If that is inaccurate, and she has had multiple contacts with the child, then we, of necessity, must begin to look at her behaviors while she is with the child.”
You’re right, it’s supposition on my part, and it’s also supposition that her use of “loves your child” was rhetorical, and didn’t actually imply multiple contacts with the kid. If in fact she had multiple contacts with the kid, then I’d agree with you, her personality has to be called into question. I’m explicitly assuming she had only had one or two quick interactions with the kid. Neither you nor I know this to be true or false.
You say, “She made the assumption that it was because the father was racist, or not inclined to associate with black people (which is one definition of racist).”
This is unwarranted on your part. It’s not racist to say nearly all of us live in a relatively segregated society, one result of which is that children of each race don’t have a lot of contact with people from another race. It’s a far, far stretch to translate that into her accusing any one particular person of racism. She was simply observing that the kid probably hasn’t had a lot of contact with black people. And I’d bet she’s right.
This is an aside to our discussion. That study, A Longitudinal Study of White Children’s Racial Prejudice as a Social Cognitive Development, is a fairly interesting one and has some thought provoking implications. Unfortunately, as far as I know, it has not been replicated, but I surely wish someone would. To briefly answer your question, no Piaget did not do any studies on race, per se, but did study his own children, and postulated a number of antecedents required for the development of various attitudes.
Charles Green. You’re fucking nuts. I said hello to my neighbor’s four year old girl. She’s terrified of me. I’m white and love kids but she’s five. I’m sixty three. She’s probably terrified of me because I’m older than dirt and creepy looking. Big deal.
Jesus H. Christ. Is there no situation you don’t have a vastly morally superior explanation for to drop on Jack and us other inferior mere mortals?
And my neighbor’s kid is Dutch and as white as I don’t know what.
Is there a point there? I’m not getting anything besides you don’t like me, and fright is an emotion shared across age and race. Ok, yeah?
I still don’t see where you get off characterizing this lady’s comments as necessarily racist, nor have you said anything to counter my version of events.
The point here is you’re a knee jerk, liberal contrarian. That’s all. “You say potato, I say patahto.” It’s an easy game and it makes you appear intellectually superior, but it’s silly.
You must be getting Charles mixed up with P.M. Lawrence…
As a matter of fact, I’m not a fan of “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” or any of his other stuff.
But seriously Jack, your posts are great but sometimes the discussions in comments make me want to pull my hair out. Talk about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Sheesh.
In any event, good night from The Netherlands. And thanks for not banishing me.
You have seen my photo, right?
Okay, you got me. hahahahahaha. By the way, the only difference between my scalp and yours is you shave around the sides and I don’t.
I bet you were a huge Yule Brenner fan as a kid, right?
My mother was. She also loved Telly Savalas. But when I shaved my head (for a corporate ethics gig), she was horrified.
Hah. Perfect. That’s what mothers do. Who loves ya, baby?
Is it suitable for framing, Jack?
Just remember that face is just the descendent of the same steely eyed and grim warriors who stared down Xerxes thousands at the pass of Thermopylae.
No, it’s a perfectly documented trend on here. If it a discussion on race, Charles Green will give the widest possible benefit of the doubt for black people and the narrowest and most brutal scrutiny to white people.
He’s a typical guilt-ridden liberal. It doesn’t help that he lets his marriage to a black woman cloud his judgment further. Powerful bias that, when one screens all their rationale through the filter of who keeps their bed warm at night.
You don’t know that, though. For all you know, Charlie’s wife agrees with you.
And here I was thinking the explanation was that Charles is just somewhere significant on the Aspergers/Autism scale and compulsively runs every argument deep into the ground. Jack, maybe you should begin issuing baseball cards for all your major commenters? Strike outs, OBP, etc. As well as some biographical data.
That’s a great idea.
I like Other Bill’s idea too. I intend to make the Hall of Fame for hitting the most foul balls of all time. Or for the most balks of all time.
Either way, unless she actually comments, she is pretty much irrelevant. As is my BLACK cat.
Was it possible that she was merely so coyote ugly that she’d make any kid cry?