Saturday, March 17, 2012

Someone Should Have Told Madonna That Stealing Babies is Hard Work

I have a new op-ed up at the Loop21


Madonna is still an ambitious woman, but these days she finds that ambition tempered with the difficulty of raising four kids by herself. In an interview with The Sun, Madonna made it clear that since her separation from Guy Ritchie in 2008, being a single parent is tough. Discussing her latest song, “I Don’t Give A,” Madonna states, “It's about the life of a single mother.  It's a challenge juggling everything -- multi-tasking is my middle name.”  I don’t doubt that raising four children alone is a daunting task; however, Madonna certainly does not inspire any sympathy from me.
Shall we consider for a moment that two of the children in her custody – Mercy James and David Banda – are the result of dubious transnational adoptions?  Mercy’s uncle, John Nglanade, was initially responsible for blocking Madonna’s first attempt at adoption.  Lucy Chekechiwa, Mercy’s grandmother,made it clear that she did not want her grandchild adopted outside of Malawi.  Let’s not forget that David’s father only agreed to the adoption when he was assured by Malawian officials that Madonna would only have temporary custody of David.  Clearly, this man was misinformed as to exactly what adoption means. 
In her promotional interview, Madonna sought to position herself as the typical modern-day working mother, but her class position and race make this anything but the truth. Madonna made sure to highlight her ambitions while complaining about having to multi-task in raising her children ("I'm not going to lie — it's hard work having four kids and doing all the work I do.").  Unlike Mercy and David’s parents, Madonna does not have to worry that her children will be taken from her because she cannot provide the basics. Madonna instead wields the power to remove children from their country of origin.Despite clear familial objections to the adoptions of both David and Mercy, Madonna forged forward, determined to be yet another white earth-mother with black children in tow.  She has not reached the numbers of Angelina Jolie, but Madonna believed that her class status and her whiteness would offer a better life for these two children, even though removing them from Malawi means that both kids are now cut off from their nation and culture of origin.  This disconnect is not something new for children of the African Diaspora, but due to the circumstances of their birth, it is an emotion that Mercy and David could both have avoided if Madonna had chosen to invest in supporting black children by empowering their mothers, rather than assuming control of their children.