Saturday, June 13, 2009

Racism Against Your Own Children?

I know, I know, going on the Daily Mail website is never a good idea. But for some reason I did.

I was (duly) horrified by this story, about a white couple who had IVF and due to a mix-up had mixed race children, one of whom apparently has noticeably darker skin than the rest of them.

Now, clearly this isn't ideal, it is concerning that such mix-ups can occur, and the couple, who wanted to keep their IVF a secret for some reason, are feeling now that this secret might be revealed.

However, this poor child is suffering from what, I fear, is an element of racism from his parents. He apparently asks his Dad at night 'Why am I brown? How can I make myself lighter, like you?'

This must be hard for them to hear, but there is a clear reason why he is not happy in his own skin.

Because of his colour,
the Williamses are suing the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (formerly the Royal Group of Hospitals Trust) for damages for their mental distress, social discredit and breach of contract under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982.

They consider that their black son is a 'social discredit' to them, his skin colour causes them mental distress, and I'm not sure whether he'd have been consider goods or services when he was 'supplied'.

His father says:
'I felt very angry and betrayed,' he says. 'We'd placed all our trust in the hospital and one person's mistake had ruined all our futures.

He also says:
'It's not so bad when we all go away on holiday, but at home I've given up picking up my son from school and we don't go out as a family any more.

How can this boy have a chance of having any kind of positive self-image, or appreciation of his heritage, with his parents openly suing the hospital, refusing to pick him up from school or take him out anywhere, all because of the colour of his skin?

It's no wonder he wants to whiten his skin.


The Goldfish said...

Blue at the Gimp Parade wrote about a similar story in the States a few years back where a mix-up led to a child born with darker skin than that of her parents (in this case, Dad was white, Mum was Dominican). It's well worth a read, not just from the point of exploring race and racism, but what differences count as a "problem", that is, at what point difference becomes disability.

I do feel sorry for these folks, but their apparent shame is inexplicable. Mind you, Daily Mail, let's hope some of the quotes were just made up. :-)

Claire said...

I completely agree with you, but also I think the fact they're suing the hospital is a key point here- The more damage they can make out they've suffered, the more money they'll get. Hence the "social discredit" part- maybe they weren't in reality that bothered about people knowing they'd had IVF- but if they pretend they were, they'll do better. Maybe their son never said those things and they don't really think them- but they're a pass to more cash.

Even if this is true, however, it doesn't make them better people, because clearly they're unconcerned about the effect reading about this might have on the poor kid in a few years.

Of course it ties in nicely to the Mail's agenda, which if I'm being charitable could be summed up as "each to their own". And if I were being less charitable...

Claire said...

Also as an aside- I wonder how often this happens but no-one notices because the differences aren't as obvious as something like skin colour?

mcbeth said...

I'm appalled at the litigious aspect of the story. Someone has to be sued? Someone has to get their comeuppance? Someone has to get taught a lesson? Come ON.

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Steve Hayes said...

I suppose much depends on what caused their distress -- having to reveal where all their kids came from, or just this one.