A photographer took these photos of a BP oil refinery while standing on the grass median of a public road. (With very few exceptions, it’s perfectly legal to take pictures of anything visible from a public place, even if the subject is privately owned.)
BP’s security noticed, called the city police, and followed him by car to a gas station.
The police forcefully detained, harassed, and threatened him for more than 20 minutes for something that is not a crime and that they did not witness.
The police disclosed all of his personal information, including his Social Security number, to a BP security guard.
The police effectively forced him to reveal the photos he had taken and continued to detain, harass, and threaten him even after an officer had evaluated them and decided that they were not a threat to Homeland “Security”.
He was further detained, harassed, and threatened by a Homeland Security agent who arrived at the scene and forced him to reveal the publication he was working for.
There’s a good chance that a crime was committed there, but not by the photographer.
The second reason that middle-class white people adopt internationally is racism. This is generally an unstated reason, but it’s there, underpinning the whole system of international child-buying. It’s a very complicated and a very American racism, because it is about class and it’s about skin color and it’s about age and it’s about Americans. Parents that will mortgage their homes and move to Libya for three years to adopt an African child would never consider an African-American child from Chicago. It is a rather sophisticated hierarchy of desire, but as far as I can tell, it goes something like this:
White American baby
Eastern European (white enough) baby
South/Central American baby
African-American/Hispanic/Native American baby
White toddler with problems
White child with problems
African-American/Hispanic/Native American toddler
African-American/Hispanic/Native American child
African-American/Hispanic/Native American teenager
Just like these parents consider babies to be somehow immune to “adoption issues,” they consider non-American children to be immune to American racial politics. I can’t tell you how many white parents of African children we deal with who refuse to teach their kids about racism, put them in diverse schools or neighborhoods, or grapple with their racial identity at all, because their kids are “African,” not “black.” This is more than ignorance, it’s consciously maintained ignorance. These are parents who want the existence of their non-white child to vouch for their exclusion from the work every American needs to do to exterminate racism within themselves. They want to sidestep their own personal responsibility — to investigate why they want an African child over an African-American one — and they want to ignore the additional hardship they have just placed on their child to do their own work as well as their parents. It will be the child’s job to cope with racism, to cope with the fact that their parents wanted them because white children were not available, to cope with the fact that their parents still exhibit racism to those who look exactly like the child (we have plenty of parents who have Central American children but will talk long and hard about goddamn Mexicans taking all the jobs), and to cope with the fact that they were only adopted because their home country and people are in ruins, and their white parents took advantage of it. And because they are not and never will be white, they will never have that same privilege of exploitation. Not in this country, and not in this world.
This is not to say all internationally adoptive parents are this way or, more importantly, stay this way. Some of the very best parents we work with, like the ones I spoke to this morning, are the families who learned early on that this shit wouldn’t fly. And, again, this is a fault of adoption agencies as much as the parents lack of internal self-knowledge and admission. Adoption agencies need to explain to families what they’re getting into when they adopt a child of a different race and ethnicity than them. But they don’t. In America, they don’t because we have a law that specifically does not allow adoption agencies to mention race to families (because we’re colorblind, right?). Internationally, they don’t (though they’re supposed to) because the same privilege that allows middle-class white families to have the disposable income to adopt internationally is the same privilege that allows them to ignore the racism that got them where they are. We would not have a overwhelmingly white middle class without centuries of American racism, just like we would not have a global baby-selling industry without centuries of global racism. Any individual may not have contributed to creating this system, but they benefit from it, and they are taking the path of least resistance to continue benefiting without examination of whether they deserve what they have got and, most importantly, whether others deserve what little they have got.