Four days after the Wall Street Journal published Amy Chua's essay, "Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior," it continues to spark controversy. The piece itself has garnered more than 3,500 comments on WSJ's website and bloggers from Phil Yu of Angry Asian Man to Maureen O'Connor of Gawker and Danielle Belton of The Black Snob have taken Chua to task for claiming that Chinese mothers raise highly successful children by berating their young, withholding affection from them, or denying them meals and sleep until the little ones manage to meet mom's expectations in academia, music, and beyond.
My personal reaction to the piece is mixed. I absolutely agree with Chua that parents should have high expectations for children, shouldn't praise kids for mediocre work or prioritize athletics over academics. That said, I also agree with Chua's detractors at the previously mentioned blogs who say that the tactics the Yale Law School professor uses on her children may lead them to suffer severe emotional distress down the line, if not currently. But rather than debate the pros and cons of Chua's childrearing strategies, I'd like to examine a major stereotype running through her piece: Mothers of color are cruel.
Do a quick search on the Internet and you'll see that there are lots more people waiting to adopt a healthy newborn these days than there are babies out there ready to be adopted. Gone are the (ahem) "good old days" when a pregnant woman finding herself in less than optimal circumstances could be shamed, coerced or forced to give up her baby as a matter of socially accepted course (for more on THAT history, check out Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away). Access to safe, legal abortion (while awesome when it occurs) has done a real number on the adoption industry.