TIME Race

Dear White Ladies, You Will Have To Raise Your Black Baby and Love Every Minute of It

Jennifer Cramblett
Jennifer Cramblett is interviewed at her attorney's home in Waite Hill, Ohio, on Oct. 1, 2014. Mark Duncan—AP

During her pregnancy, Jennifer Cramblett found out what she thought was sperm from donor vial No. 380, a white guy, actually came from donor No. 330, a black man

xojane

This story originally appeared on xoJane.com.

What to do? What to do? Jennifer Cramblett is suing a Chicago sperm bank for wrongful birth because a lab mix-up produced a baby of the wrong color — black.

The Uniontown, Ohio, resident who lives with her lesbian partner Amanda Zinkon and biracial daughter Payton, two, also alleges breach of warranty in the suit filed this week in the Circuit Court of Cook County, which has the largest population of black folks in America, by the way. (This population is what probably explains the creature that is Barack Obama, but that’s another story.)

During her pregnancy, Cramblett found out what she thought was sperm from donor vial No. 380, a white guy, actually came from donor No. 330, a black dude. So now this lesbian couple living what until very recently was widely considered a nontraditional lifestyle is clutching their chests over the prospect of having to raise a black girl, though they report having “bonded with Payton easily.”

It’s just that the neighbors are a problem. And the family.

“Family members, one uncle in particular, speak openly and derisively about persons of color. [Cramblett] did not know African-Americans until her college days at the University of Akron,” the suit says.

“Because of this background and upbringing, Jennifer acknowledges her limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans, and steep learning curve, particularly in small, homogenous Uniontown, which she regards as too racially intolerant.”

This suit, these women, America’s un-evolved racial attitudes present some problems, so let me start here:

They’re right.

The couple questions their “cultural competence” to raise a black child given their limited experience with black folks. Not enough white parents involved in what’s called transracial adoption question their competency in these matters. “Love will conquer all,” they say, until the first time they’re perplexed by the inability to get a comb through their little black girl’s hair, then cut her “bangs” that shrivel up into a curious forehead afro. Mark that No. 1 on things to discuss with the therapist when that little girl grows up.

As white women, they’re certainly typical. Most white people don’t have any black friends, as we know from a recent Public Religion Research Institute study showing three-quarters of white Americans don’t have any non-white pals. It’s so easy to pretend America’s racial problems (think: #jordandavis #ferguson) don’t exist until they populate your Twitter feed.

The couple also say they live in what they consider a racially insensitive town that might give the child hell one day. Yup, that could happen. Just ask Trayvon Martin. Oh, we can’t.

They didn’t ask for their lives to be turned into a giant social experiment. Yes, the sperm bank messed up big time, and they should take the hit for it. Whatever money this family receives could be used for Payton’s education or to provide enrichment opportunities of the culturally enriching kind so she just grows up happy and well rounded regardless of her skin color. I hope she doesn’t grow up hating herself or other black people because that happens, you know.

They’re wrong.

They’re gay, so they’re already a social experiment (meaning, homosexuality is only now being accepted as a norm in mainstream society). Gay marriage may soon one day be the law of the land, but the fact that it’s a fight proves the point.

They’re women living in what author Tara Mohr calls a “transitional historical moment.” On one hand, women have more freedom and opportunity than ever, thanks to everything from the first-wave feminism of 1848 Seneca Falls to the success of the 50-year-old Civil Rights Act of 1964, largely thought to be aimed at minorities like Payton. This law is totally responsible for breaking open workplace doors for women, mostly white ones. The very nature of being a woman is a social experiment.

Both women say they were sexually abused as girls, so when “you think of sperm, you think of sexual encounters and neither of us wanted to think of males in our lives again,” according to the suit. In other words, the fact that the baby came out in a way they didn’t plan underscored the lack of control they have felt over their own bodies.

These are strong women for surviving sexual abuse and carefully planning to have children who would be blood relatives by virtue of being inseminated by the same sperm. But did they consider the fact they could have had a boy?

The genetic engineering (and entitlement) tendencies of these women is nauseating. So what, life didn’t turn out the way they planned. Look at employment stats, housing numbers, the failure of public education and mass incarceration — that’s black life, baby.

And what? They don’t know any black lesbians? With children?

Each woman seeks an undetermined amount that exceeds $50,000 in damages. Because they certainly are — damaged.

Deborah Douglas is a journalist living in Chicago.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Companies

‘Aunt Jemima’ Family Demands $2 Billion Cut of Pancake Business

Delivery Operations With PepsiCo.
Bottles of Aunt Jemima syrup are displayed for sale at a ShopRite Holdings Ltd. grocery store in Stratford, Connecticut, on Aug. 3, 2011. Paul Taggart—Bloomberg/Getty Images

Quaker Oats, the brand's owner, denies that its figurehead was based on any living person

The self-proclaimed descendants of “Aunt Jemima” have sued the brand for allegedly appropriating the images and recipe of living persons while offering “false promises” of compensation.

The plaintiffs claim that their great-grandmother, Anna Short Harrington, refined the recipe for the pancake mix along with Nancy Green, the original inspiration for the brand’s ‘Aunt Jemima’ figurehead, the Louisville, Ky. Courier-Journal reports.

They contend that an agreement existed to share a percentage of revenue each time the likenesses of their “relative” were used to market the pancake mix and that they are owed $2 billion in compensation, plus a share of future revenue.

The brand’s owner, Quaker Oats, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, denies that any such contract existed or that the iconic figurehead was meant to resemble any living person. “The image symbolizes a sense of caring, warmth, hospitality and comfort,” said a statement from Quaker Oats, “and is neither based on, nor meant to depict any one person.”

[Courier-Journal]

TIME financial regulation

The Real Silver Lining of the Absurd AIG Lawsuit

Former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Former Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke. Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

It's ludicrous that shareholders are suing the government over their losses, but at least it's a reminder that Wall Street financiers did take losses.

Have I mentioned how outrageous it is that AIG shareholders are suing the government over the AIG bailout that prevented them from total wipeout? Have I compared them to homeowners suing the fire department for getting their furniture wet while saving their home? Have I mocked the bailout critics who admit this lawsuit is “asinine” and “mostly insane” but still claim it’s performing a public service?

Oh, I have? Just last week?

Well, this week, the critics will get their wish, as the architects of the Wall Street bailouts—Hank Paulson, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke—are scheduled to testify in this frivolous lawsuit. So this is a good time to concede there actually is a silver lining to this cloud of absurd litigiousness. But it definitely isn’t what the critics think it is. It’s that the AIG lawsuit, while breaking new ground in chutzpah, might help remind Americans that even though government rescued some Wall Street firms, the financial crisis still cost a lot of Wall Street investors a lot of money. The financial sector emerged way better than it would have without government help, and it’s certainly thriving today, but financiers didn’t all emerge unscathed.

The critics have applauded the lawsuit for a very different reason. They expect this week’s testimony to reveal The Truth about AIG, which will surely involve Geithner and Goldman Sachs conspiring with Colonel Mustard to destroy Main Street while bwahahaha-ing all the way to the bank. In fact, the truth about the AIG bailout is already out there. It was infuriating, because bailouts are always infuriating, but it was necessary and ultimately successful. After insuring toxic mortgage assets for every major global financial institution, AIG was dead in the water in September 2008, and its failure in the wake of the Lehman Brothers collapse could have shredded the global financial system. Not only did the $182 billion AIG bailout save the firm, it saved the system. And U.S. taxpayers eventually recouped their entire investment in AIG, plus a cool $22.7 billion in profit.

The bailout helped AIG shareholders, too. Their equity was worth something instead of nothing. Former AIG chief executive Hank Greenberg, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, unloaded $278 million worth of company stock in 2010; it presumably would have been worth nothing if the government had let the firm declare bankruptcy and the global economy implode. Greenberg’s complaint that the government unconstitutionally seized his property—and that AIG was entitled to the same bailout terms as much less troubled banks that posed much less of a threat to global financial stability—should have been laughed out of court.

That said, it’s important to recognize that while AIG’s shareholders didn’t lose everything, they lost an unimaginable amount of money. AIG stock plummeted from a high above $150 a share to less than $5 the day of the bailout. The government then took over 79.9 percent of the company, further diluting the value of each share. And when AIG needed more help, there was even more dilution. In his memoir, Stress Test, Geithner recalls how at a time when the country wanted his head for being too gentle with AIG, Greenberg visited him to complain that the Fed had been overly harsh by taking so much equity in AIG. “I told him we hadn’t done the deal to make money, and we’d be happy to sell him back some of the equity if he’d be willing to take some of the risk,” Geithner recalled. Greenberg wasn’t willing, so taxpayers rather than shareholders enjoyed most of the upside of AIG’s recovery.

I helped Geithner with Stress Test, so I’m biased, but I think Greenberg’s pique is silly; there wouldn’t have been any upside for anyone if the government hadn’t stabilized AIG and the rest of the system. At the same time, I think the terms of the AIG bailout were legitimately tough on investors who made bad bets on a reckless firm. They were certainly tougher than the terms of the broader Wall Street bailout known as TARP—and some bankers complained bitterly about TARP’s terms, which were intended to be (and were) tough enough to encourage banks to pay them back as quickly as possible. All of the bailouts were designed to balance the need to quell the panic in the markets and pave the way for economic recovery with the need to protect taxpayers. They ultimately did both.

The larger point, so often missed in the post-crisis too-big-to-fail debate, is that the lavish Wall Street bailouts did not shield all of Wall Street from pain. Critics of the bailouts often say they sent a message that you could invest in Wall Street behemoths without risk, that government would cover all your losses when markets turned sour. It’s amazing this even needs to be said, six years after a financial shock five times as large as the shock that preceded the Great Depression, but that’s simply wrong. Some of the jerks in suits took baths. Main Street bore the brunt of the pain, and that’s not fair, but there was plenty of pain on Wall Street, too.

Lehman Brothers disappeared; its shareholders were wiped out, and its executives all lost their jobs. Investors in Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Wachovia, Citigroup, Bank of America, GMAC, and other firms that got sucked into the crisis took baths, too. Very few of the big Wall Street CEO’s kept their jobs after the bubble burst, although some were fortunate enough to cash out their stock before the house of cards toppled completely. Some savvy investors have taken advantage of the misfortunes of others; David Tepper, a hedge fund manager, made billions by buying bank stocks after the market hit bottom in March 2009, essentially betting on the success of the government rescue plans. But markets always have winners and losers; the bailouts did help some of the losers limit their losses, but they didn’t change that essential capitalist truth.

The even larger point, which should also be clear but most definitely isn’t, is that the Wall Street bailouts were not designed to enrich Wall Street. They were designed to protect Main Street from a Wall Street cataclysm. The goal was to prevent enough financial failure to stem the panic and lay the groundwork for recovery. The goal was achieved. Main Street was losing 800,000 jobs a month during the panic; now it’s gaining more than 200,000 jobs a month. Yes, Wall Street has enjoyed an even healthier recovery. But punishing Wall Street during the panic would not have made things better for Main Street now; it would have accelerated the panic, which would have been devastating for Main Street.

So we should mock the gall of the litigants who are suing the fire department that saved their homes. Still, we can recognize that some of their furniture got wet.

 

 

 

TIME Family

African American Donor’s Sperm Mistakenly Sent to White Mom

A medical worker works on a dish ready f
Georges Gobet—AFP/Getty Images

Lesbian parents tell the TODAY Show that they love their mixed race daughter but are suing their sperm bank to prevent future mixups.

The Midwest Sperm Bank sent Jennifer Cramblett of Uniontown, Ohio, the wrong sperm. She’d requested sperm from donor number 380 and received instead sperm from donor number 330. Ms. Cramblett and her partner are now suing the sperm bank.

What makes the story a whole lot more complicated is that donor number 330 is African American.

“On August 21, 2012, Jennifer gave birth to Payton, a beautiful, obviously mixed-race baby girl,” says the lawsuit. “Jennifer bonded with Payton easily and she and Amanda love her very much. Even so, Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Among the issues that are causing these anxieties are the prospect of sending her mixed race child to an all-white school, traveling to a black neighborhood—where she feels unwelcome—to get Amanda’s hair done and the lack of acceptance by her extended family, who, according to the suit, are already having issues with the whole same sex couple arrangement.

Ms. Cramblett told The Today Show that she and her partner Amanda Zinkon love their daughter very much, but she doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else’s family. “I’m not going to let them get away with this,” she said. She’s primarily angry, she says at what she considers the sperm bank’s cavalier attitude and “lack of concern for me and my family…if they had some compassion and just said sorry. But they didn’t.”

So far, the Midwest Sperm Bank has declined to comment.

(This might be a good time to direct Ms. Cramblett’s attention to Chocolate Hair, Vanilla Care, a website used by many transracial adoptive families. You’re welcome.)

TIME Tracy Morgan

Tracy Morgan Hits Back at Walmart

Tired Truck Drivers
In this image from video the limousine bus carrying Tracy Morgan and six other people lies on it's side early Saturday morning, June 7, 2014, on the New Jersey Turnpike. Will Vaultz—AP

"I can't believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused"

Comedian Tracy Morgan fired back at Walmart Tuesday after the retail giant suggested the 30 Rock star was responsible for injuries sustained in a serious accident with one of its trucks, because he hadn’t worn a seatbelt.

“After I heard what Walmart said in court I felt I had to speak out,” Morgan said in a statement Tuesday bthrough his spokesperson Lewis Ka. “I can’t believe Walmart is blaming me for an accident that they caused. My friends and I were doing nothing wrong. I want to thank my fans for sticking with me during this difficult time. I love you all. I’m fighting hard every day to get back.”

In a court filing Monday, Walmart claimed that the injuries sustained by Morgan and other survivors of the wreck were “caused, in whole or in part, by plaintiffs’ failure to properly wear an appropriate available seat belt restraint device.”

Morgan sued Walmart after a truck driver for the big box retailer struck the back of his limo in June. Morgan was badly injured in the collision, as were three other survivors. Comedian James “Jimmy Mack” McNair was killed.

TIME Music

Iggy Azalea Suing Ex-Boyfriend For Releasing Old Music

Iggy Azalea
Iggy Azalea Seth McConnell—Getty Images

The "Fancy" rapper has accused Maurice Williams of downloading the files off her computer without her permission

You don’t want to cross I-G-G-Y.

Iggy Azalea is suing an ex-boyfriend for infringing on her copyright and unlawfully using her name, likeness, voice and trademark by trying to release her early-career material.

The Australian emcee alleges Maurice Williams (also a rapper under the name Jefe Wine and other variations) downloaded the contents of her computer without consent several years ago and has been using a forged contract to release some of the music he obtained, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which published the suit.

In July of this year, a press release quoting Williams announced that several companies had secured the rights to an EP of Iggy Azalea’s early music from 2008, called Inizio. Some of those songs appeared in digital music stores before Azalea’s label shut them down with cease-and-desist orders.

While reporting on the existence of a possible Iggy Azalea sex tape (which is not mentioned in the suit), TMZ quoted Williams as saying he had a contract that allows him to sell, distribute and promote any recording featuring Azalea and her image.

But the lawsuit says that agreement is a forged, modified version of an old management contract Azalea once signed — not a valid document that gives him the right to release her music or profit off Azalea’s image and trademark. THR was unable to reach Williams for comment. Williams did not respond to TIME’s request for comment.

[THR]

TIME Music

Robin Thicke Admits He Didn’t Really Write ‘Blurred Lines,’ Was High in the Studio

US-MUSIC-GRAMMY AWARDS-ARRIVALS
Robin Thicke arrives on the red carpet for the 56th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 26, 2014 Robyn Beck—AFP/Getty Images

He and Pharrell Williams both testified that Williams actually wrote the song

Robin Thicke admitted in court that he didn’t really help write the 2013 smash “Blurred Lines” — in part because he was high on the painkiller Vicodin when the song was being written.

Instead, Thicke testified, it was producer Pharrell Williams who really wrote the song. The testimony was taken from depositions Thicke and Williams made in April as part of an ongoing legal dispute with the children of Marvin Gaye over whether or not “Blurred Lines” lifted beats and rhythms from Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give It Up.”

Here’s how Thicke said he contributed to the writing of the song, from depositions obtained by the Hollywood Reporter:

I was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted — I — I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I — because I didn’t want him — I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song.

Williams said he was “in the driver’s seat” for this song, but explained that sharing credit is the norm for the music industry. “You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that’s where the embellishment comes in.” When asked whose words were used in the lyrics, Williams answered: “Mine.”

Williams also said that it’s “Robin Thicke’s voice” that makes the song great: “Because it’s the white man singing soulfully and we, unfortunately, in this country don’t get enough — we don’t get to hear that as often, so we get excited by it when the mainstream gives that a shot.”

Thicke also admitted he lied to media outlets about the genesis of the song, like when he described the creative process to GQ: “Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye’s ‘Got to Give It Up.’ I was like, ‘Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.’ Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it.”

As for why, exactly, he lied, Thicke says that he “had a drug and alcohol problem for the year” and “didn’t do a sober interview.”

[THR]

TIME Baseball

Top Mets Official Claims She Was Fired for Being Pregnant and Unwed

Rugby Expo 2012 - Day One - Twickenham
Leigh Castergine, senior vice president for ticket sales at the New York Mets, speaks during the Rugby Expo 2012 in London Adam Davy—Not For Release/Press Association Images

The team's owner said he was too "old-fashioned' to have her on staff, the lawsuit claims

A former top New York Mets executive is alleging that she was fired because the baseball team’s co-owner was “morally opposed” to her being pregnant and unmarried, according to a new lawsuit against the troubled franchise’s front office and co-owner.

Leigh Castergine, senior vice president for ticket sales at the Mets, and the first woman to hold such a senior position in the 52 years the team has been around, contends that co-owner Jeff Wilpon ridiculed and ultimately fired her when he learned she was pregnant, the lawsuit alleges.

The lawsuit, filed in a district court in Brooklyn, says that Castergine had received annual six-figure bonuses and continuous promotions for lifting the team’s slumped ticket sales. But when Castergine announced she was pregnant, Wilpon “became fixated on the idea,” the lawsuit says.

“He frequently humiliated Castergine in front of others by, among other things, pretending to see if she had an engagement ring on her finger,” it says. The lawsuit also alleges that Wilpon told a meeting “of the team’s all-male senior executives” that he was “morally opposed” to Castergine’s pregnancy, and told Castergine that her boyfriend should propose if he wanted his girlfriend to get a raise.

Castergine also castigated the team for a series of poor plays — including several alleged public-relations flubs — that made her job all the harder. Some people told her, the lawsuit says, that selling tickets to the Mets was like “selling deck chairs on the Titanic.”

The Mets said in a statement that Castergine’s claims “are without merit.”

“Our organization maintains strong policies against any and all forms of discrimination,” the team said.

TIME Tech

Tinder Settles Sexual-Harassment Suit With Co-Founder

The startup quickly settles out of court

Dating-app startup Tinder and its parent company, IAC, have quickly settled a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by one of their co-founders.

Whitney Wolfe alleged in a complaint filed June 30 that her fellow co-founders, Justin Mateen and CEO Sean Rad, subjected her to “horrendously sexist, racist and otherwise inappropriate comments, emails and text messages” before stripping her of her co-founder title for being a 24-year-old woman and then firing her. Mateen was suspended following the claims that he had called her a “whore” and “gold digger” in Rad’s presence. The complaint included many screen grabs of text-message conversations among the three co-founders.

Wolfe’s lawyers argued that the Tinder executives symbolized “the worst of the misogynist, alpha-male stereotype too often associated with technology startups.” The suit came at the end of a summer filled with charges of misogyny in Silicon Valley: Valleywag leaked emails from Snapchat CEO and co-founder from his days in a frat at Stanford filled with misogynist comments; Julie Ann Horvath left GitHub because of alleged sexual harassment; a sexist flier was found in Twitter’s headquarters; one of the RapGenius co-founders was ousted for making annotations on University of California, Santa Barbara, killer Elliot Rodger’s misogynist manifesto that included calling Rodger’s sister “smokin hot.”

The case has been resolved and Wolfe has dropped the case, one of her lawyers told BuzzFeed. The firm declined to comment on the sum of money involved in the settlement.

TIME Music

Deadmau5 Clashes With Disney Over Ears Trademark

South West Four 2014 - Day 2
Deadmau5 performs on stage at South West Four Festival 2014 on Aug. 24, 2014, in London Joseph Okpako—WireImage/Getty Images

Disney says his mouse-head logo is too similar to Mickey Mouse and will damage the company’s brand

A battle between a musical mouse and a magical mouse is under way, as Canadian electronic artist deadmau5 countered an attempt by Disney to shut down his application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

“Looks like Disney officially just filed in opposition of my trademark…lawyer up mickey,” deadmau5, whose real name is Joel Zimmerman, tweeted to his 2.95 million followers earlier this week. This was right after Disney filed a 171-page document preventing the artist from getting a trademark for the mouse-shaped LED helmet he wears during his live shows, and uses as his logo.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Disney presented the patent office with a side-by-side comparison of his logo and its own three-circle Mickey logo, emphasizing the cartoon mouse’s popularity.

The mau5head, as it is called, is already patented in over 30 countries, but Disney took legal action after Zimmerman filed for a U.S. trademark last June.

Deadmau5’s lawyer, Dina LaPolt, said her client would not be “bullied” by the U.S. corporation.

“Given that the mau5head and other identifying deadmau5 trademarks have been used in the US and around the world for almost a decade, we wonder why Disney is only now coming after deadmau5,” she said in a statement.

In yet another twist, deadmau5’s lawyers have hit Disney with a cease-and-desist notice for using his iconic track Ghosts ’n’ Stuff without his permission, according to a series of tweets from the artist himself.

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