This photo of the actress and her daughter, Zahara, is the focus of a crude and insensitive spoof by a blogger who goes by the name The Black Snob. The photo is supposed to show the girl's hair poorly cared for by her clueless or insensitive famous white mother.
Take a close look and you'll see that her hair looks clean and natural and in the throes of growing -- i.e., healthy. The child's hair is being allowed to follow its natural curl pattern. But to the prejudiced and over-sensitive eye -- that of most black women -- her hair doesn't look "right". Yes I've seen biracial girls' hair that was so unkempt I wanted to confront their mothers on the street. And yes, I admit that there's some subtext at play here as well: You, white woman who chose to have a baby by a black man (or adopt a black child), should care enough about our culture to learn how to properly care for your black daughter's hair."
Sometimes, the woman really is clueless, or frustrated by the work a black girl's hair requires, or unnerved by her daughter's tears of pain when she attempts to comb it. Sometimes, she is in denial.
But in this case, it's obvious that The Black Snob has an ax to grind and an easy target to grind it upon. Never mind what's in Angelina Jolie's heart. And never mind that too few African Americans are taking up the charge to adopt some of the five million orphans in Ethiopia. So much easier to make fun of someone who did step up.
Few things have moved me more than witnessing the white adoptive families I met in Ethiopia. I'm awed by their bravery and willingness to venture into an unknown world -- too often a hostile, judgmental one -- in an effort to simply love a child and give her a home. Some of them are naïve, I'm sure, about what that life will be like, and what their children will pine for despite their best intentions. This is what the blogger is really doing -- expressing racial umbrage at Zahara's loss of a black world. But what's the alternative? Once you've seen the street children of Addis Ababa, once you've seen the faces of little ones left behind at an orphanage, once you've seen the desperate lives of birth families, you know that a safe and loving home is far more important to an Ethiopian orphan than how her adoptive mother styles her hair.