Saturday, January 30, 2010

Adoptees of Color speak out

Below is a statement from Adoptees of Color calling for the cessation of adoptions from Haiti. As they put it

As adoptees of color we bear a unique understanding of the trauma, and the sense of loss and abandonment that are part of the adoptee experience, and we demand that our voices be heard.

This statement reflects the position of an international community of adoptees of color who wish to pose a critical intervention in the discourse and actions affecting the child victims of the recent earthquake in Haiti. We are domestic and international adoptees with many years of research and both personal and professional experience in adoption studies and activism. We are a community of scholars, activists, professors, artists, lawyers, social workers and health care workers who speak with the knowledge that North Americans and Europeans are lining up to adopt the “orphaned children” of the Haitian earthquake, and who feel compelled to voice our opinion about what it means to be “saved” or “rescued” through adoption.

We understand that in a time of crisis there is a tendency to want to act quickly to support those considered the most vulnerable and directly affected, including children. However, we urge caution in determining how best to help. We have arrived at a time when the licenses of adoption agencies in various countries are being reviewed for the widespread practice of misrepresenting the social histories of children. There is evidence of the production of documents stating that a child is “available for adoption” based on a legal “paper” and not literal orphaning as seen in recent cases of intercountry adoption of children from Malawi, Guatemala, South Korea and China. We bear testimony to the ways in which the intercountry adoption industry has profited from and reinforced neo-liberal structural adjustment policies, aid dependency, population control policies, unsustainable development, corruption, and child trafficking.

For more than fifty years “orphaned children” have been shipped from areas of war, natural disasters, and poverty to supposedly better lives in Europe and North America. Our adoptions from Vietnam, South Korea, Guatemala and many other countries are no different from what is happening to the children of Haiti today. Like us, these “disaster orphans” will grow into adulthood and begin to grasp the magnitude of the abuse, fraud, negligence, suffering, and deprivation of human rights involved in their displacements.

We uphold that Haitian children have a right to a family and a history that is their own and that Haitians themselves have a right to determine what happens to their own children. We resist the racist, colonialist mentality that positions the Western nuclear family as superior to other conceptions of family, and we seek to challenge those who abuse the phrase “Every child deserves a family” to rethink how this phrase is used to justify the removal of children from Haiti for the fulfillment of their own needs and desires. Western and Northern desire for ownership of Haitian children directly contributes to the destruction of existing family and community structures in Haiti. This individualistic desire is supported by the historical and global anti-African sentiment which negates the validity of black mothers and fathers and condones the separation of black children from their families, cultures, and countries of origin.

As adoptees of color many of us have inherited a history of dubious adoptions. We are dismayed to hear that Haitian adoptions may be “fast-tracked” due to the massive destruction of buildings in Haiti that hold important records and documents. We oppose this plan and argue that the loss of records requires slowing down of the processes of adoption while important information is gathered and re-documented for these children. Removing children from Haiti without proper documentation and without proper reunification efforts is a violation of their basic human rights and leaves any family members who may be searching for them with no recourse. We insist on the absolute necessity of taking the time required to conduct a thorough search, and we support an expanded set of methods for creating these records, including recording oral histories.

We urge the international community to remember that the children in question have suffered the overwhelming trauma of the earthquake and separation from their loved ones. We have learned first-hand that adoption (domestic or intercountry) itself as a process forces children to negate their true feelings of grief, anger, pain or loss, and to assimilate to meet the desires and expectations of strangers. Immediate removal of traumatized children for adoption—including children whose adoptions were finalized prior to the quake— compounds their trauma, and denies their right to mourn and heal with the support of their community.

We affirm the spirit of Cultural Sovereignty, Sovereignty and Self-determination embodied as rights for all peoples to determine their own economic, social and cultural development included in the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the Charter of the United Nations; the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The mobilization of European and North American courts, legislative bodies, and social work practices to implement forced removal through intercountry adoption is a direct challenge to cultural sovereignty. We support the legal and policy application of cultural rights such as rights to language, rights to ways of being/religion, collective existence, and a representation of Haiti’s histories and existence using Haiti’s own terms.

We offer this statement in solidarity with the people of Haiti and with all those who are seeking ways to intentionally support the long-term sustainability and self-determination of the Haitian people. As adoptees of color we bear a unique understanding of the trauma, and the sense of loss and abandonment that are part of the adoptee experience, and we demand that our voices be heard. All adoptions from Haiti must be stopped and all efforts to help children be refocused on giving aid to organizations working toward family reunification and caring for children in their own communities. We urge you to join us in supporting Haitian children’s rights to life, survival, and development within their own families and communities.

Friday, January 29, 2010

NYTimes spotlights Firefly / Serenity
January 29, 2010, 10:00 am — Updated: 2:23 pm -->
Graphic Books Best-Seller List

Are comic books the new lease on life for television series that have ended their runs? There certainly seem to be more adventures in store for characters created by Joss Whedon. He’s already been involved in the comic-book version of Season 8 of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” which is published by Dark Horse. (There are even plans to reunite her with – spoiler alert! – Angel).

This week, another of Mr. Whedon’s television creations enters our softcover list at No. 3. “Serenity: Better Days” continues the journey of the space-faring crew from the 2002 television series “Firefly.” The show was canceled early in its first season, but its characters returned in the 2005 film “Serenity” and as a comic book, “Serenity: Those Left Behind.”

Another television series that may be getting resuscitated is “Pushing Daises,” which departed ABC in June. One of the show’s stars, Chi McBride, told that Bryan Fuller, the show’s creator, is working on a graphic novel follow-up. No release date has been announced.

The complete lists can be found here, along with an explanation of how they were assembled. See you next week!

Hat time

I've been on a beret knitting kick. I finished one a few weeks ago, but it was too big so I frogged it.

Then I crocheted this, which is a little tight and a little itchy. That's surprising because it's Bearfoot sock yarn, I think the Bitterroot Rainbow colorway from Mountain Colors. I figure it would be non-itchy if it's meant to be worn next to the skin.
I finished it last night and immediately cast on for a third beret, which I hope will be just right.

It's Merisoft Handpainted colorway HP 72. Lovely name, no? It's 100% merino, so should be much softer and comfortable against my forehead.

As I went through my stash looking for yarn, I pressed the skeins against my forehead to gauge the itch factor. I must have looked pretty silly to anyone watching through the window at midnight last night.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Haitian adoption

I came across this post today at Racialicious.

I absolutely agree with the writer and her analysis of the desire to "save" the children. I also appreciate that she is an adoptive mother herself and it's not a totally negative discussion about adoption. Rather it's a very well informed discussion.

The Dangerous Desire to Adopt Haitian Babies
by Guest Contributor (and frequent commenter) Atlasien

Haitian American Adoptive Parent Margalita Belhumer
I’m a foster care adoptive parent. I can’t speak for all of us, since we’re a diverse bunch. Some of us have also adopted internationally and support international adoption strongly. Others despise the institution, and are angry about what the perceived hypocrisy of parents who walk past the foster kids in their own cities and states so that they can adopt from a far-away country. I’m somewhere in the middle, but definitely leaning more towards the anti side, especially after this week.
This week, I’ve been deeply disturbed at the swelling public desire to adopt Haitians. Haitian orphan babies. The very name is problematic. In our imagination, an orphan has no family, but the vast majority of “orphans” all over the world have living parents, and almost every single one has living extended relatives. And the children that need family care are, overwhelmingly, older children.
Quite a few other parents I know are really pissed off about it. If you want to adopt, why not consider adopting from foster care? Why Haitian babies? I can guess at some of the answers. Most of them will not be very flattering.
There’s a certain group of white adoptive international parents that dominate much of the discourse around adoption in this country. The most organized of these are evangelical Christians, but many of them are secular in their beliefs on adoption. They’re across the political spectrum, ultraconservative to ultraliberal, though if I had to hazard a guess, most of them are center-right in politics. I believe these people are, basically, a force for evil. If I put it in any nicer words, that would be a lie. Examining their belief system, and their potential political influence on the recovery efforts in Haiti, is a pretty terrifying process.
I was first made aware of the Rumor Queen website several years ago. I was doing some research on Chinese adoption for a blog post. They’re a large community of parents adopting from China, and the site is known for posting a lot of useful data about wait times. A few years ago controversy happened in the forum when some Chinese-American parents were accused by white parents of “jumping the line”. There is, in fact, an expedited program for some Chinese-Americans; it’s quite restrictive and any Chinese-Americans greater than second-generation do not qualify. The fact that some of these Chinese-Americans were possibly more worthy of Chinese babies because of factors like “language” and “culture” and “race” apparently enraged some of the white parents. I read about it second hand from a couple of really angry, hurt Chinese-American families. This episode should give you a taste of the quality of discourse at this and similar websites. There are dissident voices, but the environments are most often dominated by white parents who refuse to consider any of the complex ethical issues surrounding transracial, transcultural, international adoption. They’re saving children. How can you argue with that, right?
These online communities are often very hostile places for adoptive parents of color. They’re even more hostile, of course, to adoptees and birth/first parents who want to discuss more complicated perspectives of adoption.
I stumbled on Rumor Queen again recently and was shocked to see what was going on. The whole site has gone gaga over adopting Haitian babies. It began with concerns about Haitian children, and is evolving into a coordinated plan of action to put pressure on political representatives for a Haitian babylift.
Also, I’m hearing about plans to bring more children (as in, thousands) into the U.S. all at once on airplanes. There are some precedents for this, there was Operation Peter Pan / Pedro Pan in Cuba in the 60’s, and then there was Operation Babylift in Vietnam in the 70’s. IIRC they did something similar in Korea in the 50’s, but I’m not sure it was given a name. At any rate, there is precedent for allowing a whole bunch of orphans into the U.S. who do not already have parents waiting for them. The U.S. government has not yet given the green light on this, and I’m unclear at this point who exactly gets the final word on it. If anyone out there has more information about it, please share. If it can be done in a way that ensures they are only bringing true orphans over then I’m all for it and would get behind it in a letter writing campaign. However, I would want someone overseeing the effort who can make sure things are done ethically. Someone with the ability and the clout to insist upon it.
The concern that “things are done ethically”… that’s a nice thought. The comments dispense with that window dressing. They’re full of demands that we have to get the kids out now, now, now, before they die, die, die. The practical reality is that after a horrific disaster of the magnitude of the Haiti quake, it’s completely impossible to determine whether any abandoned child is a “true orphan”. It’s a process that is going to take months and even years.
This post from a more informed international adoptive parent blogger is a more reality-based examination of the issue. Adoptee bloggers who also study adoption academically — among them Harlow’s Monkey and A Birth Project — are deeply concerned about the parallels to massive child extraction events like Operation Babylift. These were not shining humanitarian moments. Many of the adopted children found out later that they had parents and siblings left behind who wanted them, or even relatives in the United States who were searching for them.
In countries like Haiti that suffer so severely from poverty, citizens have to take the risks of globalization, but reap few of the rewards. Families are split apart as young people go to the cities to work, or to other countries, leaving their children in the care of relatives. Family ties are weakened by poverty, by the constant presence of disease, death and loss, but also paradoxically strengthened as families come up with new ways to endure hardship and stay together. A white middle-class Midwestern mother doesn’t understand why a Haitian mother would leave her children at an orphanage, hoping to take them back later. The white mother could understand if she really thought about it on a rational basis. But the lure of the white savior narrative is powerful, and sweeps her up in a rush of emotion: fear, longing, desire. It’s because the Haitian mother is a bad mother who doesn’t deserve her kids anymore. The innocent baby is not yet contaminated by this evil culture. They deserve something better, cleaner, richer, more tender, whiter.
Here’s another comment from that thread.
RumorQueen Says:January 21st, 2010 at 2:07 pm And how many children will die while they are building a new infrastructure?
Sometimes you do what you can, not what the ideal would seem to be.
It’s like the guy rescuing starfish on the beach, there are a hundred thousand starfish and a guy is throwing some of them back in the water. Someone tells him there are too many, he can’t possibly make a difference all by himself. And he says, as he throws one in the water “I made a difference to that one”.
There are going to be all kinds of issues these kids will deal with. I’ve gone out of my way so my kids know I did not “rescue” them… but that isn’t going to be able to be said for these kids. Sure, it’s not an ideal situation. But would it be better to let them die?
Analogies simplify complex issues, sometimes in an accurate way, but this analogy is just smoke and mirrors. International adoptive parents are really fond of this starfish analogy and this is not the first time I’ve seen it in play. It always boggles my mind. Why is adopting a third-world “orphan” like throwing a starfish back in the ocean? Maybe the poor starfishes needed to be on the beach as part of their mating cycle and the guy is messing with them because he’s sadistic. Maybe he has a weird sexual fetish about echinoderm-hurling. Or maybe he’s just a dumb-ass. The analogy effectively obscures the issue of motivation, as well as the implication of “saving”.
Let me try another analogy. Let’s say you live with your child in a house that burns down. You’re dazed, confused, and burned. Your neighbor says, “I think I should take care of your child”. You say, “Thanks for your offer. But my child really needs me now, and I think they wouldn’t sleep well in a strange house. If you could just give us a tent and some food and some bandages so we can camp out while I get better and look into rebuilding, we’ll be OK.” Your neighbor says, “that’s too logistically complicated and I’m concerned about the security situation. I just want your child.” You say, “Thanks again for your concern and I’m grateful for any help you can give me. If you’re so worried about my child, maybe you could let both of us stay in your guestroom for a while? That way my child could be safe and would sleep well too.” Your neighbor says, “No, we have an interdiction-at-sea policy and visa restrictions will not be relaxed. Just give me your child. Actually, nevermind. I don’t even need your permission anymore. I’ll just take them.”
Here’s the worst comment on the thread. It was let through without a rejoinder. Mine was blocked.
49. Proud2Adopt Says:January 22nd, 2010 at 1:03 am EthioChinaadopt – the issue is that if someone is paying $30,000 to adopt a child, they want a baby! Its as simple as that! I’m really tired of hearing about how so many of these kids are just split from their parents. Lets get the 380,000 kids that were ALREADY orphans OUT of the country & into waiting homes, that way the focus of orphanages can be on those children who are NEW orphans or split from parents & families. The reality to me is, I would LOVE to adopt one of these children. No, this isn’t a NEW passion spurred from seeing photos on TV. But hopefully with the dire situation they will waive much of the 25K+ fees for families like mine to adopt one of these children here! Amen!

I admit I wasn’t nearly as diplomatic as I could have been. But that’s not my strong point. I was way too irritated with these people. In case you’re wondering why the maniac above me was referring to $30,000 for a fresh baby, I really don’t know. I’m not up-to-date on the latest prices in the international baby market.
The next babylift thread was racist beyond belief. Rumor Queen ran footage of a riot at a food distribution point.
Desperate target Haiti’s orphanages
In a country where it is survival of the fittest, what chance do babies and children in an orphanage have?
The Vietnamese Operation Babylift was driven both by racism and fear of communism. But this framing, on the other hand, is pure 100% unadulterated racism, invoking the most damaging stereotype of black people invented by white imperialists. “Survival of the fittest” implies that Haitians are nothing more than animals. Their children need to be removed immediately or they won’t even grow up to be human beings.
I haven’t watched a lot of news in the past week — probably less than 10 minutes of footage a day from sources like CNN — but in those brief times, I’ve seen plenty of examples of orderly food distribution. I’ve seen Haitians rescuing each other. I’ve read accounts by independent media, small media and even the mainstream media — “Despite isolated incidents of looting, violence and other criminal activity, the overall security situation remains calm” — that security fears have been massively overblown.
Rumor Queen attacked me for my blocked comment later on in that thread. I then left a harsher comment (I refrained from profanity but did use the word “strip-mining”) and my comment was, of course, also blocked.
Luckily, policy makers aren’t listening to these people with full attention anymore. There are competing voices. UNICEF, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages, pretty much every single large secular children’s aid organization, plus some of the religious ones, are advocating a total stop to new international adoptions until quake recovery gets underway and far-flung families begin to come together again. Adoption should be the last resort. I agree with that. I’m somewhat moderate in that I don’t see a huge problem with removing children who have already been through most of the process and have already met their adoptive parents. If a bond is already there, there’s no point adding another loss. And a lot of the adoption process is true red tape that doesn’t serve anyone’s interests. But airlifting children who just “appear to be orphans” (as several Catholic leaders in Miami have been demanding) and almost certainly cutting them off from their roots… this is wrong. It’s wrong for the children, it’s wrong for their relatives, and it’s wrong for the country of Haiti.
There was an adoption story I heard on NPR yesterday that really touched me. It’s not the typical adoption narrative we’ve been hearing:

Margalita Belhumer, a Haitian-American who lives in New York City, was visiting Haiti when the quake struck nine days ago. She shaded her eyes from the tropical sun as her 8-year-old daughter, Melissa, squatted at her feet.
“I’m seeking to leave with my daughter. People are dead, place crumbled. She has nowhere to live, so I can’t leave without her,” Belhumer said.
She said she raised Melissa since the girl was a newborn infant, wrapped in a sheet and left on the sidewalk in front of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Child abandonment by destitute mothers is not uncommon in Haiti. While Belhumer worked at her job as a security guard in New York, she paid a family to take care of Melissa. Belhumer said she had begun the adoption paperwork before the quake struck.
“I started the adoption process, but I started last month. But I’ve had her since the first day she was born,” she said.
If any adoption is expedited, it should be these ones. But these are also the people who are least likely to have the ears of politicians. Everyone wants Haitian babies. Haitian adults, and Haitian families, are another matter. There has been no announcement that more visas will be granted to reunite Haitian-American families.
This report by a US adoptee-rights blogger, based on notes from a USCIS teleconference, has a chilling quote.
Hundreds of adoptive parents, paps, orphanage directors with dozens of children, and even, apparently, loose children gather outside the US Embassy. Many come unannounced demanding entry. Officials have set up and are refining procedures for entry into the compound, interviews, and decision making. (Procedures were discussed in detail, but I”ll hold that for another entry.) They emphasize that the Embassy needs advance notice of petitioners so someone can go outside, locate them, and escort them through the gates. Only adoption cases are being handled. (Haitians with other Embassy business, including those with pending pre-quake visa and immigration applications are being turned away for now.)
Talk of adopting orphaned Haitian babies seems to be swirling all over. And though I’m concentrating my ire on a certain class of white adoptive parents, I’ll have to note, not everyone full of this dangerous desire is white.
“I wanna just go down there and get some of those babies,” Latifah said on the Today Show Thursday. “If you got a hook up, please get me a couple of Haitian kids. It’s time. I’m ready.”
As someone who has adopted before, here’s some questions I’d ask of anybody in the U.S., of any race, who is really serious about this.
- Do you know what a homestudy is? Are you ready to pass one?- Do you realize it will be almost impossible to adopt a baby, hard to adopt a toddler, and that the vast majority of children who really need to be adopted are older children?- Do you know what attachment disorder is? Children with inconsistent caregiving in early years often develop this to some degree. They may experience the expression of love as a terrifying loss of self. They may do anything in their power to make you stop loving them, including physically attacking you, your pets or your other children. There is no known 100% effective therapy for this.- Do you understand the effects of various prenatal exposures? Do you understand and accept that your child may grow up with irreparable brain damage?- Are you ready to establish routine visits to one, two, three, all of these and more: therapist, psychiatrist, physical therapist, neurologist?- Are you prepared that your child may resent you or hate you for taking them away from everything and everyone they’ve known and loved? And that even if you’ve explained to them that they’re never going back, they may still try to push you away, because in the back of their minds, if they’re bad enough, you’ll send them away, and they’ll go back to everything and everyone they’ve known and loved?- Are you prepared to have a child so terrified from trauma that they act as if they were half their developmental age? That they wake you up screaming every night at 3 in the morning? That they rage uncontrollably if you don’t stay by their side every waking minute?- Are you prepared for your friends and family to perhaps shrink away from you because they don’t understand why your child acts the way they act — maybe it’s because you don’t love them enough, or you don’t spank them enough — you’re doing it all wrong and it’s all your fault.
If you can answer “yes” to all of these, congratulations. You might be ready to adopt from foster care. To adopt from Haiti, answer all the above questions, add the effects of malnutrition, add a language barrier, and multiply the child’s trauma by a factor of ten. And subtract a lot of money. Unlike foster care adoptions, which are basically free, you’re going to have to pay legal fees. Maybe even $30,000. And children from foster care will have permanent Medicaid, no matter your income level, but if you adopt internationally, it’s up to you to find a way to pay for all those psychiatrist visits you’ll almost certainly be needing later on.
Here are some additional questions:
- Are you aware of transracial adoption issues? If you’re a black American, are you aware that transcultural issues can be just as intense as transracial ones?- Do you have a connection to a Haitian-American community? Do you speak Kreyol or French?- Your child will likely be Catholic and think of themselves as Catholic. Are you? If not, how will you handle the difference?- The ethical thing to do is to try to establish contact with your child’s relatives in Haiti. Are you prepared for the fact that you, as a rich American (no matter what your income level) will then be regarded as a financial benefactor/patron? If you’ve grown up in the US and absorbed our surface-egalitarian values, you will be unaccustomed to this kind of role, and extremely bad at it. If you refuse to make contact because of this issue, or because of fear that your child will love you better if you cut them off from their roots, then… well… you suck. I’ll leave it at that.
You’d better be sure you can handle it. If you can’t, your child will pay the highest cost. If the adoption falls through, your child may end up in foster care, possibly so scarred that they’ll never get another chance at a family.
I’ve said a lot of harsh things in this post. But I also want to note that this desire can also be understood in a positive way. Children inspire love. I believe in certain universal values, and across every culture and all of history, people love children and want to take care of them. An equally universal trait, unfortunately, is the desire to exploit children. Children don’t speak fully for themselves, so we speak for them. It’s necessary, but it’s also dangerous. Exploiting a child can be as blatant as child sexual abuse, or sweatshop labor… and it can be as subtle as wanting our children to validate us as parents. Wanting them to love us, and being angry when they don’t show us love.
We’re getting into grounds of philosophy and religion here, but I don’t think a completely pure love is truly possible on this earth, because love needs knowledge, and pure knowledge is impossible. We try, but we don’t know fully what’s best for the other person, so we make guesses, and our guesses are based on imperfect knowledge. And so exploitation creeps in.
My religion talks a lot about the impossibility of individual purity and makes the acknowledgment of imperfection absolutely necessary. I think many other belief systems address the same issue in different ways. For example, in Christianity, Jesus Christ represents a pure kind of love, and other kinds of love exist in relation to that standard. The answer is not to stop loving, or to stop trying to understand, but to realize that our love is always endangered by selfishness. If we ever think our love is pure, we need to stop thinking along that track, take a step back and think again. Don’t stop loving, just stop thinking that your love is infallible and all-knowing.
I’ll close with a few reality-based ways to help Haitian children in Haitian families in the short term:
- Donate to SOS Children’s Villages, Save the Children or UNICEF.- Sign this AIUSA petition to request an end to interdiction-at-sea policy- Contact your representative. Ask them to support an increase in refugee visas for Haitians and expedited family reunification visas for Haitian-Americans. Ask them to support the airlift of Haitian children unaccompanied by family ONLY for the purposes of temporary medical hosting and NOT for the purposes of adoption.- If you live close to a Haitian-American community, contact their organizations and ask if there is anything you can do to support community efforts.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Friday bits and pieces

1. Currently I'm reading "A Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin. It's the first book in the seven book A Song of Ice and Fire series. It may be made into a series by HBO. It's been a long time since I've read a fantasy novel, but it mostly reads like a historical novel about court intrigues set in a mystical Western European medieval fictional country. It's written in third person voice and each chapter focuses on a different character. I find I really like that structure.

It was recommended by the husband of a friend who is also a Buffy and Firefly fan.

2. I'm working on a baby blanket, mainly putting a green garter stitch border on this square I made some time ago.

However it's not thrilling me. I really want to make something with the colors that Grumperina's making here. That peacock blue really speaks to me and I like the greens and white she's using too. However, I'd sub one of the greens with yellow. Blue/green/yellow/white is one of my favorite combos. At lunch, I may run to Needlenook and see what they have in the Tahki Stacey Charles cottons.

Do I need to buy more yarn? No. Is that really the point? No again.

3. Spent the MLK Day weekend in Charleston, South Carolina. Beautiful city. Lots of wrought iron work. Made me want to learn how to do it. It was me, Husband, and Husband's mother. It was our first time there for all of us. The picture of the tree at top was taken there. It's covered in ferns, which I hadn't seen before. Also stopped at and bought 2 skeins of Merisoft Hand Painted yarn in 2 different colorways, one of which is blue/green/yellow/white. But hand wash wool. Not appropriate for a spring baby blanket.
This trip was our gift to her for not spending winter holiday with her in Wisconsin. Husband and I went to Palm Springs/Joshua Tree National Park/Los Angeles instead to celebrate our 10th anniversary. I still need to post about that trip.
4. Still loving my iPhone. I posted to Facebook all the time and Husband just told me about the Dragon dictation app. about 10 years ago, I bought the Dragon software to use in grad school. there was just so much typing! However it wasn't very good and I ended up typing every paper anyway. The Dragon app has come very far since then.
As Violet of the Lime and Violet podcast said, the iPhone does everything except make coffee. Then in the latest episode, she mentioned that a listener has all their electronics hooked into some central control console, and her husband somehow hooked their coffee maker to that system and their iPhone, so now their iPhone does make coffee. That's taking it a bit far for me, but I love the idea.
5. Favorite new recipe: Beer bread. So easy.
Preheat oven to 350 F or 375F -- the recipes I found vary
Combine 3 cups self rising flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1 bottle beer.
Pour into greased 9 x 5 bread pan
bake for 1 hour
I used a bottle of our homebrew which is a dark beer. It goes really well with the chicken, bean, rutabaga stew I made over the weekend.
6. Happy that Leverage and Project Runway are back and have almost reached the end of Angel the Series. Fred's died and turned into Illyria. I'm liking Illyria but kind of sad to know that the end of the series is almost here. Postponing the end by reading a Game of Thrones. Looking forward to Caprica. Sad the Dollhouse is almost over too. The twists and turns!
7. Just found out a friend's 9 y.o. son's been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Is 9 too old for a knitted snake?
ETA: I think I'll knit my friend a shawl out of a skein of 375 yds of blue cashmere-blend sock yarn I got last week. She'll probably appreciate it more and longer than her son would for a knitted snake.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK day 2010

I'm glad that we have a day like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It's a chance to celebrate the progress we've made in the US in terms of civil rights for people of color and for women.

It's also a day to reflect on the work that still remains to be done. Sexism and racism still exist. Class inequality is still here and worsening. Gay rights still need to be won.

Today, I am traveling home from Charleston, SC. Husband and I took his mother there as a winter treat since we didn't go to see her in Wisconsin this winter.

On the plane, I like to read magazines, generally Entertainment Tonight and a news magazine. This trip, it was the New Yorker, which we subscribe to, and I picked up Newsweek. The cover story was The Conservative Case for Gay Marriage.

Both magazines had big articles about Perry v. Schwartznegger, about the case to overturn Proposition 8 which banned gay marriage in California.

This issue is very important to me. I am in an interracial marriage and it took Loving v. Virginia in 1967 to overturn laws in the US that banned interracial marriage. Otherwise, Husband and I could not be married in the US.

I am very, very happy being married to Husband and it breaks my heart to think that other consenting adults aren't able to be married too because they are gay. Race can't be changed, and neither can sexual orientation.

This is a fundamental human rights issue: that the rights of an entire category of people are being denied because of an aspect of themselves that they cannot change.

This is not a religious issue, since marriage is a legal status, not really a religious status. People have to be married by a judge or other person recognized by the state. And then the benefits and rights of being married are conferred on me.

If Husband was ever hospitalized, I as his legally recognized wife, have the right to make decisions about his health care. Heck, even to see him. However a gay or lesbian couple wouldn't be able to do that, despite years of emotional and economic partnership.

How unfair is that?

Okay, I'd say I'll get off my soap box, but hey, if I'm not allowed to get on my soap box on MLK Day, when can I?

Friday, January 15, 2010


I took the plunge and have officially declared my geekdom. I bought tickets to Dragon*Con 2010.

The best part is that Husband's going too and he doesn't identify as a geek. However we went to the parade in 2009 and he had a great time people watching. He also recognized a lot of the costumes.

Plus, it's only 4 blocks from where we live.

Until Feb 15, it's $70 per person for the whole convention over Labor Day holiday weekend. Now that's a great entertainment value.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Temporary Protective Status for Haitians

As we all know, a huge earthquake hit Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. We have been inundated with links to ways to contribute to disaster relief there. I hope you all made a donation.

Another thing we can do is urge the US congress and President Obama to give Temporary Protective Status for Haitians living in the US. According to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website:

USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:
  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane)
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

During a designated period, eligible individuals:

  • Are not removable from the United States
  • Cannot be detained by Department of Homeland Security.
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD)
  • May apply for travel authorization

Although having TPS, by itself, does not lead to permanent resident status (a green card), a TPS beneficiary may immigrate permanently under another provision of law if qualified

If the Haitians don't qualify, I don't know who does.

The NAACP has great action tools, complete with draft letter, at

This was written after the hurricanes hit Haiti in 2009 but with a little tweaking, you can still use it.

knitting squee

On the New Year's episode of Stash and Burn, Jenny Check mentioned wanting to make a bulky knit Malabrigo afghan of many colors.

Well, I e-mailed her to let her know that I've made one. And she e-mailed me back! Squee!

I know that Jenny and any other blogger/podcaster/celebrity is just another person. But the fact that she is well known in a field that I am a big fan of, just makes it a bit more exciting to get an e-mail from her.

By the way, it was just one line that basically said "cool."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Enough time?

A friend of mine is expecting a baby boy in March. Just found out. Need to make a blanket.

I have the following projects on the go
1. Noro log cabin blanket -- half done
2. top down raglan cardigan -- half done
3. crochet beret -- just began
4. portable small triangular shawl -- about a third done

We'll just ignore the other works in progress hibernating under the sofa. Literally, they are in a box under the sofa.

However, one is a machine-washable square that I was going to make into a throw cushion cover. I could crochet on a striped border and finish it that way.

Hm. That's an idea. Not as much fun as shopping for a brand new project though.

I have three months. Do I have enough time?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Big, Bold and Beautiful

Apparently there's a magazine called V and they are doing an issue with plus size women. By plus size, they mean size 10 or 12. I found out about it in today's NYTimes at

I applaud this effort. I mean, look at these women. They look great!

I am a feminist and I like to look good. What we consider beautiful is influenced by the culture we live in. I live in the USA which generally defines beautiful women as women who are young, white, blond, blue eyed, skinny, and tall.

Well, I am none of those. I am ethnically Chinese, short, and a size 8-ish.

I know, there are plenty of people in the US who would also find that attractive, even without the creeps who fetishize Asian women. And my ego being what it is, I think that I no matter my age, I'd be able to get a good and good looking man.

I haven't bought a fashion magazine in a while but I'm going to look for this one.

And look for the Asian American magazines that address fashion. I know they're out there!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Avatar and Moff's Law

Saw Avatar in 3-D over the weekend. My thoughts, in no particular order:

1. the 3D use was not egregious. Nothing coming at you to scare you or show off, but used well to literally give depth to the movie.
2. nothing on Pandora looks like it had fur. everything was slick or leathery. very few things were feathery or furry. I know it's hard to make CGI hair because each strand of hair reflects light individually and that's a level of detail that's either impossible to achieve or prohibitively expensive. It make me think about how easy it is to spot a bad hair dye job. The hair is dull and doesn't shine and reflect light the way hair naturally does.
3. the story was subpar. It was like Dances with Wolves with tall skinny Smurfs. I would have liked it more if Neytiri was like a middle status hunter and not the princess of the tribe. And her parents seemed awfully ready to adopt Jake. Why?
4. Jake's progress from Marine grunt to avatar driver to being sympathetic to the Na'vi was well done.
5. Why is the US military working with some corporation to get the mineral unobtainium?
6. Really, could they have been more obvious about the name unobtainium? And was it really necessary to bomb the Na'vi all the hell for minerals underground? Couldn't they just have tunnelled their way underneath and get the minerals that way?

Given that I work with refugees, people who had to flee because their homes were destroyed and their personal safety was threatened, I became really angry at the military/corporation.

Then today I read this post at Racialicious which I think is awesome:


In the comments to Annalee Newitz excellent io9 post on racial fantasies in Avatar (and other works of sci-fi), Moff, another io9 contributor created one of the best rants I have ever read on the nature of critique:

Of all the varieties of irritating comment out there, the absolute most annoying has to be “Why can’t you just watch the movie for what it is??? Why can’t you just enjoy it? Why do you have toanalyze it???”

If you have posted such a comment, or if you are about to post such a comment, here or anywhere else, let me just advise you: Shut up. Shut the fuck up. Shut your goddamn fucking mouth. SHUT. UP.

First of all, when we analyze art, when we look for deeper meaning in it, we are enjoying it for what it is. Because that is one of the things about art, be it highbrow, lowbrow, mainstream, or avant-garde: Some sort of thought went into its making — even if the thought was, “I’m going to do this as thoughtlessly as possible”! — and as a result, some sort of thought can be gotten from its reception. That is why, among other things, artists (including, for instance, James Cameron) really like to talk about their work.

Now, that doesn’t mean you have to think about a work of art. I don’t know anyone who thinks every work they encounter ought to only be enjoyed through conscious, active analysis — or if I do, they’re pretty annoying themselves. And I know many people who prefer not to think about much of what they consume, and with them I have no argument. I also have no argument with people who disagree with another person’s thoughts about a work of art. That should go without saying. Finally, this should also go without saying, but since it apparently doesn’t: Believe me, the person who is annoying you so much by thinking about the art? They have already considered your revolutionary “just enjoy it” strategy, because it is not actually revolutionary at all. It is the default state for most of humanity.

So when you go out of your way to suggest that people should be thinking less — that not using one’s capacity for reason is an admirable position to take, and one that should be actively advocated — you are not saying anything particularly intelligent. And unless you live on a parallel version of Earth where too many people are thinking too deeply and critically about the world around them and what’s going on in their own heads, you’re not helping anything; on the contrary, you’re acting as an advocate for entropy.

And most annoyingly of all, you’re contributing to the fucking conversation yourselves when you make your stupid, stupid comments. You are basically saying, “I think people shouldn’t think so much and share their thoughts, that’s my thought that I have to share.” If you really think people should just enjoy the movie without thinking about it, then why the fuck did you (1) click on the post in the first place, and (2) bother to leave a comment? If it bugs you so much, GO WATCH A GODDAMN FUNNY CAT VIDEO.

From now on, we will refer to this as “Moff’s law” and apply it alongside our comments policy here at Racialicious.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Happy New Year! 2010

May 2010 be better for all of us!

I feel that the beginning of the year should be greeted with optimism and happiness for the future and any first posts of the year should have some deep thoughts about it. However, I have none of that in my head right now, so I'll just leave it at

Happy New Year!