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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Double Standards: Racism and Classism

My experience of whiteness is intimately tied in with a sort of "woo" or hippie type of community. My mom's family were hippies when it was both popular and a little dangerous to be hippies (we know for instance that my grandparents were on government watch lists for their anti-social tendencies towards pacifism).

So I grew up certainly ensconced in a community that was hugely "pro-natural [insert thing here]". Which totally applied to children. Natural childbirth, breast feeding, and co-sleeping. I mean I can't say whether they were all practiced by everyone in my family, but they were certainly not derided, and there was a sort of feeling that (if you didn't do things "naturally") at the least you should look up to those who did. My whole family is also white.

With my clients who I visit, we are told to always (always) give the families packets on child safety: one about the dangers of shaking babies, one about the dangers of not putting bars in your windows (called "Kids Can't Fly", really? you don't say!) and one, (which I'm sure you were expecting) about the dangers of co-sleeping. All of my clients are people of color.


Now, some of this is classism obviously, some of it is racism, some of it is maybe that white subcultures that co-sleep are also putting their children in just as huge amounts of danger as DCF involved parents who co-sleep. Whatever the case, it's just one more instance where what's good enough for me (as a DCF worker), for instance: leaving disgusting amounts of dishes lying around or not getting around to the laundry for weeks at a time for instance, is no good, bad, bad, bad, when a DCF involved parent does it. Because if I came to a house like mine in terms of dirtiness, I would DEFINITELY be expected to write all about the mess of the place, 'cause after all it shows that the parents aren't caring for the kid!... or something.

I guess certain behaviors become magically OK when presumably well-off white people do them?

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