11 Mar 2019 Biracial Child Causes Confusion for Cindy McCain
It can be quite embarrassing for an older parent to be mistaken for their child’s grandparent. In the case of Project 21 member Marie Fischer, that misperception also came with a tinge of suspicion that she might not be related to her at all – and that she might have meant to harm the child who was her daughter.
In a commentary published on the Politichicks website, Marie discusses a “commonplace” problem faced by the parents of biracial children. In Marie’s case, her darker complexion prompted probing questions from a salesclerk several years ago.
This problem made national news recently because of an incident involving Cindy McCain. The wife of the late senator had called the police at an airport because she feared a woman might have been involved in human trafficking rather than just being the parent of a biracial child.
I understand the gravity of child trafficking, but one cannot automatically jump to that conclusion because a parent and a child have two different complexions. According to a 2013 Pew Research Center report, approximately 2.9% to 4.3% of Americans are or identify as multiracial. Add to those statistics that 44% of all adoptions in the U.S. are interracial and that 73% of non-Caucasian adopted children are with Caucasian families.
With these growing numbers, there will be more families in which one or both parents will not have the same complexion as their child. Are we also going to see a rise in knee-jerk reactions, due to ignorance? Are we going to cause more stress to parents and children in an already overstressed world? Or can we approach it differently?
In the case of Cindy McCain, Marie also points out that – because of McCain’s own personal story – she should have known better than to jump to conclusions:
[A]s soon as I saw the name of the woman who reported it, I was completely shocked. I felt this woman should have known better – or at least found a better way to handle the situation.
That woman who mistakenly reported the woman with a biracial child was Cindy McCain, the widow of the late Senator John McCain. Many do not know this, but Cindy and John McCain’s son is married to a black woman – and they have a biracial child. Mrs. McCain has a daughter-in-law who likely faces similar situations that her mother-in-law just inflicted on another poor soul.
Additionally, Mrs. McCain has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh. I wonder if she was ever stopped because strangers wondered if her adopted daughter belonged to her.
While America has increasingly become a more cautious, see-something-say something society, Marie nonetheless counsels against allowing our worst fears to get the better of us, noting that “how one approaches such situations can make all the difference.” She adds:
Let’s always remember to be kind before we are suspicious, knowing that those with different complexions can have much in common – even a direct genetic link.
To read Marie’s commentary – “Cindy McCain’s Lesson: Don’t Assume a Child’s Race” – in its entirety on the Politichicks website, click here.