Saturday, January 19, 2008

This stuff drives me crazy

A poster in one of my China adoption Yahoo egroups complained today about something. Apparently, she's searching for paint colors and ran across a sort of beige color called "China Doll" on the Sherwin Williams website. She asked why it was okay for corporate America to incorporate racism towards Asians into advertising and asked us all to join her in a letter-writing campaign.


It's highly unlikely that Sherwin Williams was talking about Asian women. Back before there was plastic, dolls were made with cloth or leather bodies and porcelain heads. "China" with a small "c" is another name for the porcelain bisque that was used for the doll heads. Bisque is obviously quite fragile, ergo the connotation of delicacy that accompanies the term.

The term "China doll" with a capital "C," however, has an alternate meaning that is at best unfortunate and at worst a racist stereotype. It describes a stereotypical portrayal of Asian women as submissive and hypersexual. This is not the way I want society to see my daughter, but almost certainly not what Sherwin Williams meant.

The poster's concern reminds me a bit of the flap over a D.C. mayoral aide's use the word "niggardly" a while back.

While I believe that those of us who have adopted children of other races have to become a lot more sensitive than the average white bear to racial stereotyping and occasionally can serve to educate our fellow travelers to the error of their ways, I've noticed a tendency in our tribe to get carried away and imagine slights where none were intended.

I cannot believe that another parent is spending her free time tilting at this particular windmill when there are so many real problems in the world.

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