Race, Religion & Responsibility: About The Backlash Against Octuplets' Mom

Some people think that Nadya Suleman, the mother of octoplets and six other kids, is not being celebrated because she is not white. Writes blogger Kenny Darter:

White ladies have a bunch of kids and get TV shows. A Hispanic woman pumps out eight babies and gets scorn – and maybe a few high-profile interviews.

Darter notes that audiences love white women with lots of kids; think Cheaper By The Dozen and John & Kate Plus Eight. Even the Duggars are getting a TV show. Well, you're thinking, those are families and Suleman is a single mom! Darter says:

Let's not forget the sexism –- how can a woman raise that many kids without a bread winner, without a brawny man to bring home the bacon?


With regards to the race issue, Darter might be on to something; commenters on an LA Times story about Suleman wrote things like:

Does anyone know if the mother is "Legal"? I still remember the last story the Los Angeles Times ran about the illegal alien mom who used fertility drugs and ended up with 10 kids, all at California Taxpayer expense.


I heard she's an illegal and we the taxpayers are gonna foot the bill. For the rest of their lives!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


The truth is, what color this woman is does not matter. What does matter is that she is unemployed; seems to think that "going back to school" will feed her children; plans to raise 14 babies using school loans and denies that she is on welfare — though she will admit that she is on "public assistance," i.e. foodstamps. Plus, three of her first six children are disabled and receiving federal assistance. (She doesn't consider this to be welfare.)

As explained on the Today show this morning (see clip above), Suleman says she has spent close to $100,000 on IVF treatments, and used to receive disability payments for an on-the-job injury, but that money has since dried up. Right now, she has no income. She receives $490 a month in food stamps. Andrew Sullivan quotes Heather Mac Donald of the Secular Right, who says: "The nine-week premature octoplet's delivery required 46 doctors, nurses, and assistants; in twelve days, their care has likely cost at least $300,000 and counting."


People are disgusted with her because she seems selfish and clueless, not because of her race. And they're grossed out by the Duggars, too. Trust. Part of the problem is the terrible economic climate, and the nation's sudden aversion to anything that seems greedy. (Remember what Helen Fisher said last week?) What seems greedier than scientifically creating a bevy of tiny beings with your DNA — more than you can possibly carry by yourself? (One commenter on Racialicious notes, "Every time I hear about people going to extreme lengths to have biological children, I think about the teenagers on heartgallery" — a website of children who have lived in the foster system the longest.)


In any case, it turns out that Nadya Suleman's father is Iraqi and her mother is Ukrainian. She was thought to be Hispanic due to keeping her ex-husband's last name after the divorce (he was Hispanic; her former last name was Gutierrez). So the Los Angeles paranoia over her being some kind of Latin "illegal" is, sadly, unsurprisingly, ignorant.

Instead of focusing on skin color — or lack thereof — maybe we should focus on the irrationality of blind faith? Because while Suleman, who says, "I do believe wholeheartedly that God will provide in his own way," refused to reduce embryos, Heather Mac Donald writes:

If you are a radical pro-lifer and believe that every artificially-conceived embryo must be brought to term, no fertility treatments for you unless you are prepared to bankroll all the resulting medical costs yourself. Either accept your God-given condition of infertility or accept a human condition on the man-made science for overcoming that infertility: use within reason.


Unmarried nonwhite woman's crapload of babies not considered "little gifts from God" [Racialicious]
Octuplets Backlash [LA Weekly]
About Those Octuplets [Andrew Sullivan]
Octuplets' mother receives public assistance [UPDATED] [LA Times]
Life, death, science, and family values [Secular Right]
Related: VIDEO-OctoMom And Doctor From Two Years Ago

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Uhm...how about it's both? Yes, I think plenty of people are creeped out because of how she's doing this...but that doesn't mean racism isn't also involved. People may find the Duggars odd...but their race was never even brought up. Whereas this woman's race seems to be something interviewers and others just can't help mentioning. It race was really irrelevant then it wouldn't be brought up.

Plus, families like the Duggars have had shows like Today fall all over themselves to have them on and give them gifts. I'm not seeing that here. I may not like what this woman is doing, but I can't say there isn't something racial going on in the way she's being despised.