Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Is being sad about infertility racist if you're white?

Be forewarned: this is a bit of a rant...So, I went out to lunch with a mixed-race friend today and in the heat of our genial catching up, I decided to share my infertility frustration with her. Immediately, she went the "just relax--I wasn't worried and I got pregnant" route, which should have been a sign for me to change the subject. But then things got worse when she said, "At least you have blonde hair and blue eyes--you could be someone who doesn't pass the 'brown bag' test and so doesn't have the same educational or career opportunities, but has seven kids!" Ouch.

Not only do I not have blue eyes (they're green, thank you very much), but I am quite aware of my privilege as a white woman raised in an upper-middle class family; as a result, I carry my share of white guilt and work diligently regularly count my innumerable blessings and use them to create more equality to the best of my ability. Undoubtedly, on some noble Scale of Suffering, it's harder to be a person of color in a racist world for one's whole life than it is to deal with infertility for several years. However, does that mean that it's wrong for me to be sad about this unfair, emotionally-draining and expensive aspect of my life? I realize that I need to keep things in perspective, but her comments totally ignored the feelings of loss, grief, frustration, isolation, jealously and ANGER that I (and every other infertile woman I've met) experience. AND, this friend said all this to me without even knowing me well enough to consider other significant losses and traumas I've suffered--she just assumed that because I'm "blonde and blue-eyed," my life has been an easy street. Isn't making assumptions about others misguided (and ironic, if you're a person of color who chaffs when people make assumptions about you)?

Tonight, I am left wondering if I am a racist for believing that--despite all the unearned privilege that I know I benefit from on a daily basis--I have the right to be sad that I haven't been able to have a child with the man I love?