Snatching Blonde-Haired Babies In Europe

One of the children at the heart of the controversy in Europe.

One of the children at the heart of the controversy in Europe.

Hello Meltingpot Readers,
Did you hear the one about the blonde-haired Roma child who was removed from her family because she allegedly didn’t look like ‘those people.’ (emphasis mine). Yes, it seems that European police officers are engaging in their own brand of racial profiling by snatching blonde-haired Roma children from their families on the assumption that they must have been kidnapped. Those assumptions are of course based on two prevailing stereotypes, ‘gypsies’ steal children and ‘gypsies’ can’t be blonde as they are a dark and swarthy people. The end result is that many families across Europe – from Greece to Ireland – are being split apart and terrorized by law enforcement officials who think they’re protecting innocent people. Hmmm.

NPR’s Code Switch website had a story about the situation in Europe last Sunday and received so many comments (129 at last check), that the writer, Gene Demby, posted a follow-up story about how the same phenomenon occurs in the United States when families don’t match. Remember the White dad at Wal-Mart who was followed home by Virginia police because a concerned shopper said he “didn’t match” his Black daughters? Turned out his wife is Black. So, what this line of storytelling tells me is that color matters. It tells me that people want family members to match, or else be prepared for everything from annoying stares to having your children unjustly taken away. Man, that’s crazy.

But this also tells me that the book I’m currently working on, which is all about families that don’t match because of color, is really necessary. Stay tuned.

I’m curious, are you surprised by what’s going on in Europe? Why or why not? I’m totally listening.

Peace!

p.s. And speaking of color and not matching, Yaba Blay’s gorgeous new book (1)ne Drop:Shifting the Lens on Race is now out in print. You can hear her talk about this amazing project on WHYY’s Radio Times. Recorded today! Go Yaba!

2 comments for “Snatching Blonde-Haired Babies In Europe

  1. Cyretha
    31 October, 2013 at 4:04 am

    Unfortunately, every now and then this type of story rears its head. Are you famaliar with the Sandra Laing story? This dates back to the 1950′s in South Africa. Have you read “When she was White: The True Story of a Family Divided by Race” by Judith Stone? Perhaps you saw the movie “Skin”? It is also about Sandra Laing. So even when children are with their biological parents and look different, some societies have a problem.

    Answering your orginal question, I first must say that this happened on the Greek/Bulgarian border which is not known for its cultural diversity. I don’t think this happens in more urban metropoles or diverse countries. If that would be the case, just about every child around me would be taken from his/her parents. I would not say this is a Europe-wide situation, but more specific to an area which is less diverse. Funny example, as I was driving to work this morning, there was a bit of a traffic jam. I noticed this cute little brown boy in the car next to me. He was in the back of a small car and his sibling was beside him. His father was driving and the mother was not in the car. All this to say, the father did not look like the son, because he was very European, but the way he was driving the car and the way the children were placed in the back said he was making sure his children were safe. No one stopped him to say those children don’t look like you, so whose are they? The children were riding calmly, as also to say by that their body language, that they were very comfortable with the man in the driver’s seat.

    • Ms. Meltingpot
      6 November, 2013 at 2:44 pm

      Cyretha,
      We must be sharing some kind of brainwaves. I just finished reading When She Was White and Sandra’s story opens my new book. Thanks as always for your insights from across the pond.

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