Yesterday I became aware for the comments made by an Alabama state representative. During a March 2014 debate on abortion, Rep. Alvin Holmes said this:
“I will bring you $100,000 cash tomorrow if you show me a whole bunch of whites that adopted blacks in Alabama. I will go down there and mortgage my house and get it cash in 20 dollar bills and bring it to you in a little briefcase.”
Fortunately, my A to Z challenge letter is “J”, because that quote brings a couple of “J” words to mind*.
Is his joking?
Jeez, I think he really means that.
What a jackass.
*Lets be honest, that steaming pile of ignorance brings to mind many other words – many of which do not begin with “J”, and very few of which I would publish under my own name.
Before you start to think this is random outrage over something that was said by a low-level politician 1,500 miles away, you should know this: I am white. My wife is white. Our oldest daughter has a white birth mom and (we believe) a black father. Our youngest two had black birth parents. True, we did not adopt our children in Alabama* (ours were all born in Florida), but that does not change my initial reaction: Alvin Holmes’s comments are shocking and offensive to me.
*But after we received clearance to leave Florida with our youngest daughter, we drove across Alabama on our way home, including a fun-filled 75 minutes of gridlock outside of Birmingham. Personally, I think that entitles me to a share of the $100,000 in that briefcase.
Once my initial outrage subsides, I find myself torn on this. There is a part of me that will always stand up for my family – especially against those who think we don’t belong together because the color of our skin doesn’t match. I’m sure we get odd looks and second glances when we’re out, but I don’t notice.* I have never had anybody say anything negative to me – but frankly, I chalk that up to living in the Midwest where if we can’t say something nice, we don’t say anything at all.
*Okay, there may have been one time in the grocery store where I felt like a black woman was giving me the stink eye, but that may have just been my paranoia – or the fact that my oldest two were being rather rambunctious.
So yeah, if we lived within four hours of the Alabama capital building, we probably would have gone to show Rep. Alvin Holmes that we are one of many families who proudly adopted black kids.
But there is another part of me that wants to let this whole thing go. In reading some of the other public statements that Rep. Holmes has made, it seems pretty clear to me that has a lot of unresolved anger and distrust for white people. I completely understand that. Alvin Harris is a longtime state representative, having served 32 years in the Alabama House. Alvin Harris is also a black man. Living in Alabama as a black man, I can only assume Holmes has known very real and very ugly racism and discrimination – the type of which a white kid in Nebraska, born the year Holmes took office (1974) can not even imagine.
Back in my business travel days, I spent some time in small town Alabama. I remember being shocked by some of the things I heard coming out of the mouths of the people I was working with (i.e. white folks working in a bank). There were not any direct slurs or words that begin with “N”, but there was plenty of things that I found inappropriate. My point: Racism is real in the South, and I have no doubt that Alvin Holmes and the people he loves and represents have been on the receiving end of a bunch of crap from white people.
I also know that one of the toughest things to do is to cure ignorance. It can be done, but too often it’s not worth the hassle. With his comments, Alvin Holmes appears to be painting all whites with the same brush. He is saying that all things being equal, white people would choose white children, so why would any white person want to adopt a black child? I could list off the reasons why we specifically chose an interracial adoption program through our agency, but I get the impression that would not matter to Rep. Holmes. In his eyes, we “settled” for black kids instead of white ones. As horribly, hopelessly wrong as he is, how do you combat that? I don’t think you can. Besides, I have better things to do than try to change the mind of somebody who has their mind made up. I’d rather spend that time with my beautiful children.
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(Author’s note: Wondering why there is a random letter in parentheses in the title of this post? Not sure how this post corresponds to the daily letter in the April A to Z Challenge? Like clicking on links? These questions are all answered here.)