“Getting a young daughter’s hair cut is not particularly stressful for most mothers, but to Jennifer it is not a typical routine matter, because Payton has hair typical of an African-American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome.” ~ excerpt from Jennifer Cramblett and Amanda Zinkon’s lawsuit against a Chicago sperm bank that accidentally gave them black sperm instead of white.
You know that part in Vanessa Williams’ “Colors of the Wind” a.k.a. the Pocahontas song when she goes, “Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?” The answer is yes. It was cries of laughter at this damn foolishness. Jennifer and Amanda, there are tons of Lisa Bonet looking heifers on YouTube moisturizing their mixed hair like they’re giving an egg wash on a tray of hot cross buns before putting them in the oven. The internet is your friend. Use it and your child won’t go out the house with her hair looking like a Museum of Modern Art installation piece made up of twigs and used pipe cleaners from a Halloween costume. In short, CUTTING YOUR TWO-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER’S HAIR IS THE LEAST OF HER AND YOUR PROBLEMS, SO QUIT ACTING LIKE YOU’RE MERELY 50 SHADES OF CONCERNED OVER WHICH PINK OIL TO USE ON HER HAIR. Pro-tip: don’t use pink oil. It has too much alcohol in it; create a mixture of 3/4 water and 1/4 grape seed oil and spray it twice on her hair once in the morning and once at night.
Now, before you say, “Blaria, you’re being a flippant here. Being given the wrong sperm is a colossal screw up.” I agree and completely understand what it’s like when you ask for one thing and you get another instead. There have been many times when I have ordered a salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side only to have my waiter deliver a salad that has been Silkwood-showered to death with dressing. And there have may have a few seconds on the inside where I’m like,
but on the outside, I go
because I want my salad to feel good about itself before I send it out into the world aka my intestines to keep my butt flow easy breezy like the busload of chillrens traveling through an esophagus on that episode of The Magic School Bus. OK, I am being flippant, but I do have a point: The Chicago sperm bank was beyond negligent, but what’s done is done. Payton is half-black and she is here, so her parents making it national knowledge that she is not necessarily the child they envisioned having, but hiding that disappointment under the guise of “It’s Hard Out There For People Who Are Darker Than A U-Haul Box” when the truth of the matter is that they are concerned because her blackness is hard for them is ludicrous and cruel. Furthermore, Jennifer and Amanda, whether they know it or not and whether they care or not, are inflicting irreparable psychological damage on their daughter that will forever shape her self-perception. A self-perception that already has to contend with the litany of negative outside forces that will affect her throughout her life.
What I am about to write may, on the surface, seem like a sweeping generalization to anyone who is not a person of color in this country, but for POCs, the task of having a strong sense of self often feels like a Sisyphean task every. Single. Day. And this is not to say that white people don’t have struggles; of course they do, but there is no denying the fact that whiteness equaling The Standard, which all is defined and measured against, is a salve of sorts for those of the Caucasian persuasion. Everything from Band-aids being peach-colored to shopping for makeup in my Brooklyn neighborhood Walgreens (the very Brooklyn which is 54.6% white to 45.4% ethnic yet when in my Walgreens, I have to go on a The Amazing Race type journey just to find the smattering of products for my skin type while the makeup for white people is clearly visible and takes up shelves upon shelves of space) exist not only as positive reinforcement that white is the default, but subliminally send the message to POCs that their otherness renders them as an afterthought if they’re lucky, which explains why the makeup in my neighborhood Wally’s is crammed into a corner like Christmas lights in an attic. Well, what about the moments when the POCs are not treated like The Other you may ask. In my experience, it’s often the “Oh, Wow! You’re Not Like My Racist Preconceptions of The Others, but You Also Aren’t One of Us Either,” which is as much of a compliment as a chilli-cheese fry-scented fart is considered an eau de perfume from Chanel.
So given the fact that all these daily micro and macro aggressions (e.g. Donald Sterling’s housing discrimination) are awaiting Payton for when she is cognizant enough feel the wounds, it would behoove Jennifer and Amanda to get it together immediately and stop damaging their child further than they already have. As Mic.com writes:
…the couple is suing for a to-be-determined amount of more than $50,000 for having suffered “personal injuries, medical expense, pain, suffering, emotional distress and other economic and non-economic issues, and will do so in the future.”
Pain. Suffering. Emotional distress. Jiminy fucking Christmas. How the hell can Jennifer let those words tumble out of her mouth like a Russian gymnast at the Summer Olympics? Does she think that the Internet is gonna pull a Michael Jordan when he retired from dominating basketball to play baseball and Payton is never going to read about this case when she gets older? Like the Internet is going to be like, “Well, while Blaria was standing in the checkout line at Whole Foods, we helped her find out the non-important important information that that was, in fact, not Ben Affleck’s penis in Girl Gone, so let’s pack it up and go home.” No. Payton is going to grow up, use Google, and discover that her skin color and coarse hair was a source of duress for her parents. That not being what her parents envisioned, her parents were in pain. A pain that curiously was not felt until Payton entered the world.
By Jennifer’s own admission in the lawsuit, she lives in a racist neighborhood, but it seems that fact is only problematic now because she has a biracial child. Oh, so if she had a white child, she would’ve been totally fine with raising him or her in a racist environment and perpetuating the same bullshit. Jen, please take all the seats in Arthur Ashe Stadium and study what I like to call “Blaria’s Handy GIF Guide To White Privilege Evaporating Like Stain On a Window After a Spray of Windex:
Living in a racist town when you are a beneficiary of white privilege:
When you have white privilege and see some racist shit go down in said bigoted neighborhood:
That’s right; you feel pretend-sad and then go about your business watching Charlie Rose with your girlfriends.
When that white privilege is gone because you accidentally have a half-black child, which then forces you to take your head out of your butt, and go, “Golly gee, people be mean to brown folk and I have to like get in my car and drive several miles to purchase cocoa butter so my baby won’t be ashy and stuff:”
Hey Jennifer, are you now majorly inconvenienced on the smallest and biggest levels? Do you have to deal with people sometimes treating you like a Cheetos stain under their fingernail? Do you worry like my parents did about my brother and I’s safety if we went into certain neighborhoods in Ohio, which is where we’re also? Then WELCOME TO BEING BLACK. You don’t fucking get $50,000 because the shit is hard. You swallow the indignities like I do when the color of my skin is explicitly why I don’t get hired for certain jobs, you rise above the ugly statements – “Your natural hair isn’t professional,” – that are said, you figure out how to live your best life because dammit, your mama and daddy love you. You tell yourself, “And, still, I rise,” “I’m black and I’m proud,” “I’m young, gifted, and black,” and then you go to bed, wake up and do this shit all over again. Every. Single. Day. With no expectation of $50,000. With the understanding that 40 acres and a mule is a dream that’s been long deferred long before you were ever alive. You just live. That’s what you what you do.
What you don’t do is live in Uniontown, OH for several years, give zero thought to the daily racism that happens in that environment until the realization that Payton’s blackness is an Earth-shattering inconvenience that essentially undoes the decades of advantage you and your girlfriend have had and then turn on Pandora radio and play “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” on the repeat while crying some crocodile tears. Please bottle those tears, package them in self-addressed envelope, and mail them to:
c/o Haus Of Fucks I Do Not Give
You don’t go on NBC News as you did and say, “Payton will understand it wasn’t about, ‘We didn’t want you. We wanted a white baby'” when you and your girlfriend specifically requested white sperm the way I pick out a new weave for a Jamaican to put in my head. You wanted a white baby, so to pretend it’s not about race is goddamn stupid. Furthermore, to have the audacity to be like, “She’ll understand. It’s all good,” with the carefree attitude that I have when I put too much baking powder in cookie dough is not only trifling to the third power, but also horrifying.
But most importantly is the matter of Payton. She will not understand why the fact that you ended up with a half-black baby made you cry on national television. Payton will not understand why until you had her, the importance of knowing anything about African-American history ranked somewhere below getting regular touch ups on your Mark McGrath Sugar Ray frosted tips yet above…absolutely fucking nothing. She’s not going to understand why you feel entitled to $50,000 because you can’t even last two years raising a half-black child without this task making you want to tap out as if Hulk Hogan put you in a headlock. She will not understand that since you are incapable of shutting the fuck up, educating yourself about black culture, and loving your child, that you didn’t give her up for adoption so she could potentially grow up in a much healthier environment. She will not understand why if you do win this case and are awarded $50,000, that a charge of black people led by Octavia Velina Robinson and Phillip Martin Robinson, Sr. (my parents) will beat down upon the doors of the US Department of Treasury with the sheer force of a thousand thunderstorms and go, “Fuck you, pay me,” like Paulie in Goodfellas.
Jennifer Cramblett, this is a less than ideal situation for everyone involved and I’m sorry it happened to you. But I’m sorrier it happened to Payton. She doesn’t deserve this and she sure as hell doesn’t deserve you.