When Outsiders Look In On Adopted America

The Chicago Tribune’s on a roll. Two Sundays, two editorials that – without even mentioning adoption – exemplify the media’s bias against authentic adoption voices. This blog’s title is taken from the first of the Trib articles, “When Outsiders Look In On Black America.”

The article reads, in part:

Mike Terry is black, and he knows that a black man giving someone a fist bump is not news. He also knows that calling a man’s wife his “baby mama” is derogatory, and that no self-respecting black person he has ever met would use the term “whitey,” even if they wanted to insult a white person.

That’s why he rolls his eyes at the news media’s recent coverage of Barack and Michelle Obama. He calls it “typical,” emblematic of the gap in understanding between black and non-black America.

“The brother is black, and he can’t throw up a fist?” asked Terry, a West Side bill collector. “That’s what we do.”

Though Obama has tried to make his skin color an ancillary element of the campaign, the issue of race continually swings front and center, with the predominantly white news media taking on the often-awkward role of interpreting black culture for the masses.

“It’s a disconnect that should be expected,” said Sherrie Mazingo, a recently retired University of Minnesota journalism professor who studies race and the media. “The mainstream media doesn’t know how to accommodate coverage of a black presidential candidate. They don’t know how to reconcile this candidacy with their generally limited knowledge of people of color, and black people especially.”

Just as the media fails to understand people of race, it also fails to understand people touched by adoption. As we saw in my earlier article, Media Bias In Adoption Reporting, the viewpoints of adoptive parents, prospective adopters, and adoption professionals reign, while those of adult adoptees and birth relatives are nearly nonexistent. It took a black presidential candidate to get the media talking more honestly about race. What will it take to get them to talk more honestly about adoption?

The second Chicago Tribune editorial will rankle anyone who blogs with a purpose. “Blah Blah Blog Blog” manages to confuse people who blab about how much sugar they put in their coffee with people like me, who blog because the mainstream media isn’t doing anything about the issues we care about.

For the record, the best bloggers have a niche, a specific goal for their blogs. That’s not to say there aren’t people out there who blog about cutting their toenails – we all know there are.

However, I find it highly offensive that the Tribune feels the need to blast independent bloggers, while simultaneously advertising the Chicago Tribune-sponsored blogs of its reporters.

What, so we’re not allowed to blog unless we have a degree from the Medill School Of Journalistic Marketing? The only blogs worth reading are those sponsored with corporate cash? This is why the Internet’s going to save civilization. ANYONE can be a journalist, a writer, a changer of worlds. You don’t need fancy credentials or buckets of money, all you need is dedication and professionalism.

I think being adopted – breathing it in every moment, like oxygen – makes me one hell of a better expert on it than most reporters. And I am going to continue to write about it, because I believe one person can make a difference.