Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Racializing Infants: When Anne Geddes Came to Seattle

from Google image search for "Anne Geddes"
by Sharon H Chang

She's been called legendary; famed; one of the world's most respected photographers. Her images are award winning, internationally acclaimed, considered iconic and beloved by many. She's sold over 19 million books and 13 million calendars in at least 83 countries and translated into at least 25 different languages. Anne Geddes is a globally renowned photographer famous for her whimsical portraits of infants and children in fanciful, fairytale-esque costumes and settings. The Australian born artist is also a global advocate for children. She founded the Anne Geddes Philanthropic Trust in 1992 and has worked to raise awareness around many child-related issues from abuse and neglect, to premature birth and the threat of meningococcal disease. "Protect. Nurture. Love," her website reads, "These three words have served as my mantra and inspiration throughout my 30-year career as a photographer."

But that's not exactly what happened when Geddes came to Seattle last year for a three day workshop and photo shoot for her 2017 Zodiac Calendar.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Does It Matter That Purvi Patel's Baby Was Mixed-Race?

[image source: YouTube]
by Sharon H. Chang

In February/March of this year Purvi Patel, a 33-year-old Indian-American woman, became the first woman in the U.S. to be charged, convicted and sentenced for feticide and child neglect over the loss of her late-term fetus.

It started with barely a hunch. I read, "resulted from...relationship with a married co-worker," "didn't want her conservative Hindu parents to know," "shouldn't have sex outside of marriage," and a light bulb was dimly lit in my mind. I reflected on those words and in them I saw boundaries, boundary-crossing: (cis)female/male, married/unmarried, Hindu/non-Hindu, proper/improper, faith/fear, expectation/defiance. The light bulb grew brighter; an unformed contemplation sat vaguely in the corner. Then other details emerged: immigrant/American, authority/subordinate, empowered/disempowered, justice/injustice. The light bulb grew even brighter, illuminating an idea that stood up and stepped forward out of shadow.

Patel being from an immigrant family in the U.S., living unmarried in an inter-generational conservative household, supporting her Indian parents, hiding her pregnancy, having to negotiate her culture of origin within home against a vastly different mainstream American culture out of home. Here was a highly racialized gender-baised case rife with all parties exploding because of fences being traversed. I suddenly and reflexively thought to myself with clarity, "I bet the baby was mixed-race."

And guess what? It was.