My grandmother once told me about meeting my father for the first time, and how disconcerting it was in 1970s culture. My father is Black, and my mother’s family is White. My prim and proper Scottish grandmother was happy to welcome him into their home, although they were a bit apprehensive about my hippie mom dragging yet another hippie through their middle class home. That seemed more annoying to her and my grandfather than my father’s race.
While they learned to accept my mother’s choice in paramour (as my grandmother told it to me) they were especially concerned when the young couple announced their intention to marry. It was fine to marry interracially. They had nothing against Black people.
“But what about the children? What will their lives be like?”…that was my grandparents’ question and they were not alone. That was often the question asked in regards to interracial unions until only quite recently. What about the children?
My grandparents eventually had to live out the answer to that question as they played a huge part in raising me and everyone managed just fine and we all got out alive.
But I think about that question a lot when I’m debating and discussing the issue of abortion.
On my new podcast I’ve been asking people to take the talking points they regularly spout and draw them out to their logical conclusion. It’s an attempt to encourage people to be more thoughtful about the arguments they make. I’m in the middle of a series on abortion and one of the arguments I have addressed is this question people ask a lot…
“What about the baby? What kind of life will the child have?”.
People ask this question with compassionate intentions but it has always disturbed me because every time I hear it I think about my grandparents asking that same question. Frankly, I love being alive and I enjoy my life. It’s so odd to hear someone ask that question because what they’re really saying is, “Maybe it’s better for this person if they just never existed. We wouldn’t want them to have a hard life”.
What about the child? No, really…what about the child? How can anyone think that I would have preferred to be dead over being born a biracial child? How can anyone think that any living adult would prefer to be dead over being born into *insert awful circumstance here*? Surely there are people who have hard lives, even torturous lives and who have wished to die because of it. But most people from terrible circumstances don’t think that way, and in fact go on to live successful and helpful lives because of their difficult experiences, not in spite of. The notion that we should abort a baby on the mere prediction that they will probably not like their lives is not only arrogant but frightening. Who among us can predict what the future has in store for any one person? Who among us should?
The best people come from the worst circumstances. Those people go on to break world athletic records, cure disease, counsel addicts, feed the homeless, live amongst and serve the forgotten, and change our world in ways we really can’t ever properly grasp. We deny ourselves the blessing of those contributions when we make decisions about who’s life will be worth living before they’ve even had a chance to take their first breath of oxygen.
I discussed this issue at length in my latest episode. Please take a listen and let me know what you think.
Just don’t forget to stop and listen to yourself once in a while.
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