post by Ticana Zhu
The names of people involved have been changed to protect their identities
I have not read Little Fires Everywhere, but it is on my exceedingly long reading list. However, I have started watching the show on Hulu. I should warn, there are spoilers in this post concerning elements to the plot. Stop reading now if you plan on watching.
A part of the show that hit home was the battle over the baby, May Ling/Mirabelle. Though Linda is given reason for us to feel sympathetic, I find myself heavily biased in favor of Bebe. Mia said it best when she told Elena that some people have good choices. Others do not. Bebe certainly was out of options. I do feel that she gave up her daughter out of love.
This reminds of a real-life incident I encountered. I should caution that it was all hearsay. But if an iota of it is true, I felt it too important not to share.
I used to volunteer with a nonprofit. Kurt was a leader or sorts, and we were meeting at a restaurant. Kurt used to be an attorney, and at the end of the meeting, he ran into an old associate. This man was still an attorney. I forgot his name, but let’s call him Drew.
I can’t recall how the conversation came to the topic. Drew was talking about an old case in Cleveland. A Chinese mother was reported for child neglect. Social services had gone and saw the child was suffering from skin rashes, deemed to come from parasites. The court was in process of taking the child into foster care. Drew was complaining about a local, wealthy matriarch buying plane tickets to send the mother and child back to China.
Drew seemed to think this was unfortunate. I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, as this all happened before I was cognizant. Perhaps before I was even born. Yet, my first instinct was flabbergast. They tried to separate a child from his or her mother living in a poor neighborhood, instead of offering help. (Yes, the neighborhood came up. Yes, it was a disadvantaged neighborhood.)
It became obvious to me in that moment. Being poor is a crime. You’re offered no sympathy. The condition is blamed on the person for being lazy. When in reality, some of the less fortunate are the hardest working.
Based on what I know, I’m going to have to side with the matriarch on this one. The mother likely has a support system back in China, of relatives. At the very least, cost of living is more affordable.
Of course, Drew could’ve been right. The mother could’ve been abusively neglectful. I should also mention I know this matriarch. I grew up with her as a presence in my periphery. From what I’ve experienced, her judgment could be trusted.
I could make this post about white men controlling the narrative. I could also go on about how my sister’s daycare almost called the police on my family. They didn’t know blue birthmarks around the buttocks is a mongoloid trait. It looked like bruising to them. Yet, what I feel is horror. Horror that if I have a child, and I fall on hard times, the world will no longer see me as a worthy mother. It won’t matter how much I love my child, or what I sacrifice. All anyone will see is what I can’t do for him or her. I truly feel for the mothers out there, struggling or otherwise.