Antioch Woman Fights Cancer with the Help of Friends

Press Release
Published in The Antioch Herald and The Brentwood Press, August 2013

Trina Coy probably shouldn’t be alive right now. “I’m pretty sure my doctor at Kaiser would be shocked I’m still alive,” Coy says. In 2008, Coy felt a lump in her breasts, but Kaiser doctors dismissed it as a clogged milk duct and prescribed birth control pills to control other symptoms. Two years later, when a second lump appeared, doctors discovered that she had breast cancer. In fact, Coy has the “second most aggressive form of breast cancer.” When she was diagnosed in 2010, she had a 4% chance of being alive in five years.

Unable to get proper care at Kaiser, Coy asked the HMO if she could receive care at John Muir. Kaiser refused. So, the Coy family turned to fundraising. Neighbors held a series of garage sales for the family in 2011. The family also set up a medical fund to which people can donate and contribute to Coy’s treatments.

Trina Coy has been fighting for her life for 2-1/2 years so she can be a mom who can be there for her children, Kevin (19), Brandon (9), and Karina (6). Karina and Brandon attend Antioch Charter Academy II. Some families Coy has befriended through the school are putting together a garage sale and bake sale fundraiser over Labor Day weekend to help the Coy family pay for further medical treatment.

The timing is incredibly important. In July, doctors discovered that Coy’s cancer, which had already spread from her breasts to her lymph nodes, brain, and bones, has now spread to her liver and lungs. Coy doesn’t yet have a prognosis. “I don’t think I want to see it,” she says.

In March, when doctors found 21 tumors in her brain, she was told that people with that many tumors generally have three to six months to live. Fortunately, one of Coy’s doctors had just read that Washington Hospital was performing gamma knife radiation on multiple brain tumors. Coy has responded well to these treatments, and may not need another round. The cancer in her lymph nodes has disappeared, but doctors are still working on the cancer in her bones. Now, she has cancer in her liver and lungs. She says, “This is the first thing that I’ve had that I feel.”

Coy says she was “scared to death” to find out about the cancer. At the time, she thought “it’s all over.” But she’s healthier than she really should be and has defied expectations, which she attributes to alternative therapies. Coy spent eight months at the Oasis of Healing center in Mesa, AZ. One week of treatment cost $8,000. So far, the family has spent about $150,000 out of pocket. That doesn’t include what was covered by previous fundraising and donations.

At this time, one of Coy’s doctors is recommending a treatment in Thailand, which costs about $30,000. Coy says there is no way this is going to happen. They simply don’t have the money. But she is going to continue the treatments she’s been getting and continue alternative therapies as long as they provide her quality of life. She’s looking into clinical trials, which may require more travel. She is also trying a drug that is new to the market. All of these drugs and treatments come with large co-pays.

Coy says, “Cancer sucks. It’s not fun. But there are times when I feel luckier than the average person, because of the things I’ve seen and the people in my life.”

What: Fight for Trina Garage Sale and Bake Sale Fundraiser

When: Labor Day Weekend. Friday, 8/30 8 a.m. – noon and Saturday, 8/31 8 a.m. – noon

Where: 2110 Fuente Ct., Antioch

If you have donations for the sale, they can be dropped off at the above address on August 25.

For more information, please contact Nicole at

If you would like to donate to Fight For Trina Medical Fund, you can do so through Wells Fargo:

1. Inside a Wells Fargo branch, you can ask to make a donation to the Fight For Trina Medical Fund.

2. Send a check made out to the Fight For Trina Medical Fund to 2601 Somersville Rd., Antioch, CA, 94509.

If you are a Wells Fargo customer, you can transfer funds to account #6124330694.


Shouldn’t It Be You?

(Originally posted at, Transracial/Transcultural Adoption, June 25th, 2010)World map on a chalkboard

I keep coming back to the seminar about teaching young children about race and color. I’ve already written three posts about it, so what more could I possibly have to say? Not only do I have this post, but there is one more – one that is sure to be controversial.

In my first post about the seminar, I mentioned that some friends of mine were there. One of them is an outspoken guy, and I loved what he had to say:

Somebody is going to shape your kid’s attitude about race. Shouldn’t that be you?

Whether you call it race or color, the fact is, there are a lot of different people in this world. It is up to every parent – not just parents of children of color – to make sure that our children understand what these differences are all about.

  • Who? Who is considered to be a member of what race? (This ties in with the question, Why are brown people called black?) Who do we know who are different colors?
  • What? What does it mean to be a different color? What happens when we point out differences in color?
  • When? When do we see people who are different from us? Do we see them everyday, or only when we venture out of comfort zone? When can we find opportunities to be in the minority
  • Where? Where we live, are there different people around? Where do we see people of color? Where did people who are different colors come from in the first place?
  • Why? Why are we different? Why are there so many colors? Why do some people hate others based on the color of their skin? Why does color even matter?

I don’t think that we need to give our kids some sort of presentation on color every day. As one parent commented on my last post, “Saying, ‘We need to read this book because it shows that Chinese girls can be princesses too’” is “weird”. But pointing out the beauty of the princess’s hair, or the differences in where she lives is one way to acknowledge and affirm differences.

The presenters had some suggestions as to what we can do to help our children understand and embrace differences:

  • Check our own personal attitudes about color and race.
  • Listen to what we’re saying when we talk to our kids and to other people.
  • Allow yourself the opportunity to become friends with people who are a different color than you.
  • Never “shush” your child when he talks about color.
  • If you’re not prepared to have an in-depth conversation, let “beautiful” buy you time. (For example, “Mommy, that man is almost black!”, “Yes, isn’t his skin beautiful?”)
  • Go out of your way to attend cultural festivals and other events.

Photo Credit.

Cinemania Connections Reviews

Microsoft Cinemania
August 1996 through May 1997

Note: Unfortunately, most of these web sites no longer exist. 

Bing Crosby Home Page
This site deserves a link just for “What They Said About Bing,” a section of quotes from famous stars about Bing Crosby. The colors may be a bit offensive to the eyes, but the information is thorough and well presented.

An Evening with Mandy Patinkin
The complete tour schedule, his history in film and onstage, an all-inclusive FAQ – literally everything one could ever want to know about Mandy/Inigo/George/Dr. Jeffrey Geiger. Four stars!

The Gene Kelly Home Page
“Do you know where Sunset and Camden is? Do you smile in the rain? Then this is the place for you!” An excellent site with literally every scrap of information and beautiful images.

The Laendler
An hilarious site! Was Maria going for the wet look? Why did she climb to the top of a mountain to sing right before Mass? And what’s up with the psychological profiles of the children? If you’ve ever seen the movie, you’ll think this site is a riot!

The Lost World: Site B
Quite an interesting interface – learn more about the movie, genetics, and dinosaurs by touring Hammond’s office. (Wait a minute, didn’t he die? So much for continuity!)

Montgomery Clift Home Page
You won’t find a filmography, but you will find the collected articles, songs, and poems about “Monty.” A unique take on the traditional home page.

A Tribute to Rene Russo
Does Rene Russo really deserve a tribute? This webmaster seems to think so, and has included images, articles, and film information to support his claim. Quite high class.

Zap Pictures: Still Breathing
This site would be great even if it only contained “Educating the Professor,” but it contains so much more. The “private diaries,” essays, what it was like on location… add so much more than you expect from an official site.

Marky Mark Fanclub Homepage
The famous pants-dropper has his own site, and it’s surprisingly well put together. Everything from lyrics to audio clips to biographical information to a detailed timeline. Someone spent a lot of procrastination time on this, and it shows.

How can you resist a site that’s this cute? Aimed at children or those with a real liking for pigs, this site contains a pig trivia contest, a coloring book, and a tour of the Hoggetts’ farm.

The Completely Unofficial Shrine to Michael Biehn
“One-of-a-kind, full-color, feature-length, larger-than-life, full-automated, critically-acclaimed, kid-tested (mother-approved), caffeine-free, accept-no-subsitutes, take-no prisoners, don’t-feed-the-animals, have-a-nice-day.” With an intro like that, why do you need a review?

A tribute to George Reeves, the original Superman and Brent Tarleton in Gone with the Wind. Forgive the really ugly colors and concentrate on the innovative content, including a reader’s forum and a question and important dates.

Bette of Roses
This divinely inspired site focuses on Miss M.’s music career and includes multimedia, clips from interviews, and a section about her commitment to clean up the environment. (Which makes that episode of “The Simpsons” that much funnier.)

UnOfficial Jurassic Park Home Page
Very nice! Literally everything you could want related to Jurassic Park. Also includes The Lost World, the worst idea for a sequel since Scarlett.

Welcome to Halloween!! – The Nightmare Before Christmas
What can one say about this site? It’s purple, scrolly font-ed, regularly updated, full of images! In short, it’s great!

Vegas Vacation
If the best laid plans of mice and men actually went as planned, then they wouldn’t have to make these National Lampoon Vacation movies. However, since nothing ever goes right in this world, we have the 4th installment, and a picturesque website to go with it.

Sports Wife

The Bedford Journal and The Merrimack Journal
Thursday August 8, 2002

Scanned article from The Merrimack Journal

I’m pretty much a girl. Aside from the obvious physical definitions, I like girl things. Scrapbooking. Show tunes. Babies. As a child, I hated recess, preferring instead to read Danielle Steele. (I was a precocious youth.) I took tennis lessons, but playing basketball (badly) in junior high, I messed up my knee, to use a technical term, and that was the extent of my sports career. In high school, I was active in literary magazine and Drama club.

So, imagine my surprise when I suddenly fell for a bona fide sports fanatic.
Max, as you probably know by now, knows everything there is to know about sports. At least, it seems like that to me. He routinely beats me at Trivial Pursuit. When we play as a team, we kick the other players’ butts. This is not due to our prowess in Science and Nature, but to Max’s domination in the Sports and Leisure category. Me, I have stock answers—if it’s about hockey, the answer is Wayne Gretzky; baseball, Joe DiMaggio, Babe Ruth, or Mickey Mantle; football, Joe Montana or Joe Namath. Max knows all the answers.

Scan of article from The Merrimack Journal

We go to Nashua Pride games with a group of people from work (Hi Roy!) and Max keeps score. I think he’s the only one who really pays attention, as everyone asks him what just happened. He taught me how to keep score last year. I think he did it just so I’d stop commenting on D.J. Boston’s butt. Consequently, I actually know something about baseball now. I mean, beyond the fact that D.J. Boston has a nice… anyway.

As a child, I would ask my grandfather to explain football to me. He was MVP his senior year of high school, and he’s another sports fanatic. He would try, but I could never get past how many people were on the team, as opposed to how many people were on the field. It never seemed fair to me that not everyone got to play. I never really understood what he was talking about. Then, Max and I had to take a trip to Half Moon Bay from Sunnyvale (both in California, but it’s like driving from Connecticut to New Hampshire). To avoid having to come up with things to say, I asked him to explain football to me. He talked for almost two straight hours, and was on special teams before he asked, “Why do you want to know all this?” Consequently, I don’t know anything about special teams, but football doesn’t seem so boring anymore. (Max and my grandfather also get along famously.)

On one of our first dates, I asked Max to explain the NBA draft. I did this because I like to talk. I babble. I admit it. And I felt like I consistently dominated the conversation. Therefore, I wanted Max to feel like I could listen too. He spent the better part of dinner explaining the machinations of various teams. Consequently, I still don’t understand the NBA draft. But Max does, and that’s what’s important here.

It’s taken some adjustment on my part, living with a sports nut. I think we get about 17 ESPNs. We do plan events based on what teams are playing. I am abandoned when Max can get the Steelers games on the Internet radio. The first thing I do in the morning is make tea. The first thing Max does is check his fantasy whatever team. Fantasy baseball. Fantasy football. Fantasy golf. (What is the point of fantasy golf? Even I know if you don’t have Tiger Woods, you’re going to lose.)

Now that Max is a sports reporter, it’s gotten a bit worse. A typical conversation with a friend: “Where’s Max?” My response, “Merrimack won.” He now has to understand hockey, lacrosse, and soccer. I hear a lot more about sports, and sportsmanship. Sportsmanship is very big with Max.

It’s a big joke that women complain about being sports widows. I wonder how many women try to learn a little bit about sports. I mean, sure, we went to see the Super Bowl and I spent the whole time looking at my friend Joanne’s wedding pictures, but the few minutes I did see were far more exciting, now that I understand the game a little. I enjoy the Pride games more now that I’m not just staring at the field wondering what’s going on. I still can’t answer Sports and Leisure questions (unless they’re about Mr. Potatohead) but at least I’ve heard some of the names in the answers.

The point is, broadening one’s horizons is almost always a good thing. And Max is a terrific guy. Now, if I could only convince him of the merits of Meg Ryan movies…

What Is an Open Adoption?

(Originally published at, Hoping to Adopt, October 2nd, 2009)Open Door

Jenna wrote a great post the other day: Is Your Agency Promoting Open Adoption?. Although this is on the Crisis Pregnancy blog, the information is useful for adoptive parents as well. Too often, I’ve heard from adoptive parents that their agencies told them the birthparents didn’t want an open adoption, only to find out later (sometimes much later) that the agency told the birthparents the adoptive parents didn’t want an open adoption.

The term “open adoption” doesn’t have just one definition. There are levels of openness in adoption. If no identifying information is shared between the birthparents and the adoptive parents, I’d call that a “semi-open adoption”. The parents kind of sort of know each other, but not really. As Jenna writes, some agencies market semi-open adoptions, in which letters and pictures are sent through the agency, as open adoptions.

Anecdotally, it seems that many adoptive parents are afraid of open adoption. Some adoptive parents agree to levels of openness that they may not plan to follow through on after placement. That would be called “lying”. If you truly don’t know what you’d be comfortable with, admit it. When my husband and I discussed openness, we said we’d consider visits, but whether or not they happened would depend on a number of factors. These include the stability of the birth family, the distance to travel, and whether we felt our child would be safe.

It seems to me that the people who are most afraid of open adoption fall into two categories: insecure about parenting or unwilling to put in the work required to maintain an open relationship. My friend Julia once wrote, “Open adoption is not for the comfort and convenience of the adoptive parents, it is for the psychological health of the kids.” I believe that, so even though our relationship with Jack’s birthmother is complicated, I wouldn’t trade it for a closed adoption, nor would I close the adoption.

I can understand being insecure about parenting. I think all new parents are insecure. My mother-in-law offered to come with us when Jack was born, and I was very glad that my husband turned her down diplomatically. I didn’t want to be told I was doing something wrong all the time. If you’re concerned about being judged, setting boundaries, or bonding, then perhaps you might postpone visits for a month or two, while you get settled into a routine. However, be sure to communicate this wish to the expectant parents.

I’ve said it before: Like snowflakes, no two adoptions are alike. You have many options available to you. Don’t say no to openness because of fear, and don’t slam the door on openness because it’s hard. Ultimately, your child will benefit from knowing his or her birth family.

Photo Credit

My Own Top Ten

 (Originally published on, April 8th, 2009)A child's hands with fingers spread out (counting to 10)

Production, Not Reproduction is one of my favorite blogs about adoption. Recently, the blog mom wrote her top ten list of why it’s awesome to be an adoptive mom. She asked her readers what their ideas were. So, I’m steal… *ahem* leveraging that idea to share with you.

Top Ten Reasons I Love Being an Adoptive Mom

  1. I don’t have any pregnancy stories to scare other moms with. What is it about women that they have to share intimate (and I mean intimate) details about their pregnancies? I used to work in a cubicle near the kitchen in an office building. Practically every woman on the floor was pregnant or recently had been. I got to hear all about my manager’s time (naked) in the hot tub before undergoing an emergency C-section. And MOMS Club events were even worse. I’m sorry, but I don’t need to know how much you tore. Yuck!
  2. My husband and I shared parenting duties fairly equally, including feedings. A close friend of mine lamented that the one problem with breast feeding was that her child’s father didn’t get much time with the baby. I could definitely see that.
  3. My son escaped the inevitable Funny Looking Baby Syndrome that happens to many babies born to women on my dad’s side of the family. My older nephew is now adorable, but yikes, was he a Funny Looking Baby! My younger nephew still is a Funny Looking Baby. Actually, I think a lot of white babies are born kind of funny looking. It’s their pale reddish skin.
  4. My eyes and mind have been opened to how “white-centric” our world can be. I never realized before how many books, TV shows, movies, and so on feature predominantly white characters. To use one example, I like to think that there are books I would buy for a child regardless of color. However, having my son has made me seek out books that I probably wouldn’t have found otherwise. 
  5. I know my son is having a better life than he would have had with his biological family. I’m sure this seems condescending. Maybe it is. But I do know what S and her children are going through, and they have a tough road ahead of them. I am happy that this bright, beautiful, rambunctious, precocious boy will have the opportunity to be the best he can possibly be. We owe it to S to make sure he has a better life than she could have provided; it’s why she chose us.
  6. I feel we were better prepared then a lot of parents we know. Because of our home study, my husband and I had to sit down and talk about discipline, the role of religion and spirituality, our parenting goals, and other important parenting topics. We read and researched quite a bit. I’m not saying we were totally prepared – Jack’s 6 months of not napping can attest to that – but I do think we were more confident in certain areas.
  7. I think the newborn phase was easier for me because I wasn’t recovering from labor or undergoing any postpartum shift. I can’t imagine having a C-section and then being expected to immediately care for a newborn. It makes me almost nostalgic for the time when mother and baby would be in the hospital for several days, instead of two. (And I don’t even like hospitals.) There is a condition known as post-adoption depression; I don’t mean to imply that if you adopt, you won’t be depressed when the baby arrives. I wasn’t, so I count that as a plus.
  8. I’ve met so many people online whom I consider friends. I don’t have the opportunity to go to “real” adoptive support groups, so I joined two online. I’ve met several people who have helped me, by sharing their perspectives and experiences. (I’m planning a post on adoption support resources.)
  9. We’ve been able to be adoption advocates and dispel adoption myths held by family and friends. So many people think “adoption” and think of the Baby Scoop Era. By living in an open adoption and being open about the aspects of our adoption, I really do think we’ve helped some people understand it better. We’ve also been able to help some friends as they begin to explore adoption.
  10. If it weren’t for adoption, I never would have discovered digital scrapbooking. It’s a long story, but basically, the time and effort that I put into doing our traditional (paper) adoption profile convinced me that I should look into digital scrapbooking. This has been a Good Thing.

So that’s it for me. What about you? What do you like the most about being an adoptive parent?

Photo Credit.

The Relationship Between Trash and Race

 (Originally published on, Transracial/Transcultural Adoption, April 19th, 2010)Earth

Thursday, April 22 is Earth Day. I try my best to be a “green” citizen and parent, so this week, all of my posts focus on how important (and easy) it is to be green.

What, you may ask, does race have to do with trash and recycling?

Let’s start with the United States. You have probably never heard the term environmental racism. I know I hadn’t until a couple of years ago, when I read Green America’s newsletter. It turns out that landfills, incinerators, chemical plants, sewage treatment plants, and facilities for toxic waste “are much more likely to be located in areas based on race and class.” In an interview with Dr. Robert Bullard, Green America reports that race is the number one factor in locating these types of facilities. Even if there are areas of socioeconomic depression, if those areas are white, these facilities are still more likely to appear in areas of color.

When one toxic facility moves in, others follow. Neighborhoods become saturated. Kids are attending schools in heavily polluted areas. Health problems, such as asthma and even cancer, increase. Water supplies may become contaminated, which is exactly what happened in one town in Tennessee.

But at least there’s recycling, right? Mmm… not so much. Americans only recycle about 12% of our electronic waste – computers, monitors, and other obsolete or irreparable electronics. But 50-80% of what’s “recycled” is actually exported, mostly to China, India, and Pakistan. Once there, workers dismantle the electronics scavenging parts. These workers do not wear protective gear and make about $1.50 per day. Electronic waste contains several toxic components, including PVC, mercury, cadmium, and fire retardant chemicals, all of which can cause brain damage, cancer, birth defects, and other serious conditions.

And all those plastic bags from every supermarket and retailer? A lot of them are exported to Asia as well, where they’re burned, emitting carcinogenic dioxin. Yes, that happens even if you throw them in the recycle bin. We’re essentially poisoning our children’s birth families.

So, what can you do?

  1. BYOB – Bring Your Own BAG that is. It is so incredibly easy to find cloth shopping bags. Almost every major supermarket and retailer sells them for 99 cents. If you donate to charities, chances are you have a couple of tote bags. Maybe your kid’s backpack is too trashed for school, but could do a decent job of hauling home the milk. If you forget your bag, at least opt for paper, which is more likely to be actually recycled.
  2. Think before you buy electronics. I know a lot of people who must have the newest, neatest technological toys. First, if you really do need something, try to buy it from a retailer or manufacturer that supports actual recycling. (Green America is a good source for that information.) Second, instead of purchasing the cheapest something-or-other, go for a little more than you need right now, so you can go longer without upgrading. Third, if there is any life in your previous item, donate it. Battered women’s shelters often take cell phones, for example. Schools can often use computers for parts. You can also use Freecycle. Your 1999 iMac may be featured in somebody’s modern art final.
  3. Pay attention to local issues. When I lived in New Hampshire, what to do with our trash was on the ballot. A lot of people don’t pay attention to local elections, but those are often the most important to our day-to-day life. Open space, water treatment, bonds, allocation of funds – all of these are likely to be discussed in your city councils, appear on your ballots, and affect your lives.

Being a responsible global citizen helps all of us, and really can be effortless, with a little education.

Photo Credit.

Talking with Andrea Nepa, Author of Red In the Flower Bed

 (Originally published on, June 17th, 2009)Red in the Flower Bed

I was recently contacted by Tribute Books with a great opportunity – to interview Andrea Nepa, adoptive mom and author of Red in the Flower Bed: An Illustrated Children’s Story about Interracial Adoption. I read the book and asked Andrea a few questions.

Andrea Nepa and her husband adopted their daughter Leah from Vietnam in 2001. Although she is a dietician, she took on the challenge of writing and illustrating a children’s book for her daughter. Red in the Flower Bed was published in December 2008, and has received several positive reviews.

In the book, a seed who is unable to grow in the garden she starts it travels the world until she settles in a far off flower bed. The other flowers are anxious to see what the new flower will look like, who she will be. When the seed sprouts, she becomes a beautiful red poppy. Though there aren’t any other red poppies in the garden, she and the other flowers are happy because she completes their rainbow of colors.

Now, more from Andrea herself…

RobynC: Has writing always been a favorite pastime?

Andrea Nepa: I’ve always loved to read, but creative writing isn’t something I do all that often.

RC: When did first think about creating a children’s book?

AN: I was inspired to write this story when my daughter was about 3 years old. We felt so lucky to have such a beautiful little girl from all the way on the other side of the world. Her background was a mystery to us and when she asked us questions about her birth mother we didn’t know the answer. She seemed to have feelings of abandonment when she was able to understand the concept of adoption, and it was important to make her feel loved and wanted.

RC: How long did it take the idea to become reality?

AN: It took a few years to finish writing the story. I would think about it and write a little then put it away for a while. I didn’t intend on illustrating it, too, but I wanted the pictures to be appealing to children and put the words into pictures. So I decided to make it look the way I wanted it, which took another year or so.

RC: The illustrations for the book are beautiful. What techniques did you use to create them?

AN: I used a collage technique for the illustrations. My favorite children’s book illustrators are Eric Carle and Lois Ehlert, so I was inspired by their styles.

RC: Finally, a more personal question, because it’s one I get all the time. Are you and your husband thinking about adopting again?

AN: We originally planned on having a sibling for our daughter Leah, but when we started to seriously think about adopting again she got very sick so we put things on hold. Now not only is Vietnam closed for adoptions, but we feel that at this point she would be too much older than an infant or toddler, plus we really can’t afford it anyway. So that is the honest answer (I don’t mind when people ask).

Calling a Spade a Spade

(Originally published at, Transracial / Transcultural Adoption, November 30th, 2009)

English Dictionary

At the end of October, the article “Pregnant Woman Requests All White Delivery Staff” caught my eye. After reading it, I knew I had to blog about it. Not for the content of the article – I mean, come on, Racism Exists in America, News at 11 – but for the comments.

 The article’s author wrote: “I hate to cry racism at every turn, but let’s call a spade a spade.”

Then, this comment came in: “I think it’s funny that in your post about not being a racist you use a racist term–to ‘call a spade a spade’ has its roots in anti-black sentiment.”

When I read that, I was pretty sure the commentator  was incorrect. I always thought the phrase “to call a spade a spade” had something to do with the gardening implement. Indeed, I was right!

The phrase “to call a spade a spade” means to speak plainly and honestly. There’s some controversy over which Greek man first wrote the statement, but it is clear that the phrase in English dates back to at least 1542, when Nicolas Udall translated a work by Erasmus. Erasmus apparently mis-translated a work by Plutarch or Aristophanes. In Greek, the phrase may date back as far as 423 BC.

The word “spade” as a derogatory term for a black person originated in the US, circa 1928. It refers to the playing card symbol, “as black as the ace of spades.”

More comments on the article followed:

“Call a spade a spade” is a racist saying by the way. ~ Ali

The “spade” reference does not have its roots in anti-black sentiment. One might want to avoid it due to the misunderstanding that it does, though. Spend a few minutes looking up what you’ve “heard” before making snarky comments. ~ JM

Actually folks, that phrase does not have racist origins. It’s been around a lot lot lot longer than the use of the word “spade” as a racial slur. The racist one refers to the color of spades in playing cards, this one is from the greek and refers to the shovel. ~ BettyWu

Just writing to support bettywu in saying “calling a spade a spade” predates the racial use of the term, and should not be considered racist. ~ Comstock

The comments took a turn:

As for the “spade a spade” I breathed one of those heavy sighs because I just knew it was going to become the focus of conversation. Bettywu is correct though, the term’s origins do predate it’s racist usage. I would disagree with Comstock, though. Most people aren’t interested in etymology, and language is a constantly evolving thing. Holding tight to the “but, it’s technically correct!!” argument ain’t going to work in the face of people who, as they know the term, as a racial epithet. ~ Miss Scorpio

That annoyed me. I love language. I do my best to use it correctly – sometimes so correctly, it bothers people. I shouldn’t use a term because people might think it’s racist? Grr… This isn’t “Jew down”, which does stem from the misguided belief that Jewish people are overly concerned with money.

“Eric” agreed with me:

I just cannot go along with the ‘Holding tight to the “but, it’s technically correct!!” argument ain’t going to work in the face of people who, as they know the term, as a racial epithet’ Its like the use of the word niggardly. It doesn’t have anything to do with black people and never has. People have lost their jobs over using that word, simply because other people are too stupid to know its meaning. I refuse to change my language because people don’t know the meaning of words or phrases, yet feel free to accuse me of racism.

 It’s not like I go around saying, “Let’s call a spade a spade”. But on the off chance that I do want to say it, I should be able to do so without fear of retribution. The English language is so beleaguered these days. Nobody knows when to use “it’s” vs. “its” or “your” vs. “you’re” and forget about the possessive apostrophe s as opposed to the plural s or es. Now more language is being taken away?

Racism and Health Care

(Originally published on, Transracial/Transcultural Adoption, October 27th, 2009)

I’ve been following the health care reform bills, though I can’t say I’m keeping track of the minute-to-minute changes. Personally, I support a strong public option that ensures that all Americans have access to good health care. What does this have to do with transracial adoption?

My son’s birthmother, S, has a son whom she parents. “Iggy” is 5 years old. Just before his third birthday, Iggy experienced at least two unexplained seizures. When S brought him to the emergency room on a Friday, she was told that they “didn’t do MRIs on the weekends” and to bring Iggy back on Monday. On Sunday, Iggy had an 8 minute long seizure. He lost his eye sight, though it is, thankfully, returning. More troubling is that he experienced permanent brain damage. Developmentally, he’s about 18 months old.

I often wonder what would have happened if S and Iggy were white. I wonder what kind of care they might have received if they had more choices available to them when they went to that ER. I wonder what might have happened if that hospital had been more concerned with Iggy’s health than with the money they might lose on one MRI.

Washington Post article from 2005 summarizes what I’ve often thought, “Black Americans still get far fewer operations, tests, medications and other life-saving treatments than whites”. The article goes on to state that “some care did improve for blacks when the government put pressure on health plans and doctors by requiring them to report whether they were meeting certain minimum standards.” The emphasis is mine.  First, why should our children and their biological parents only be treated when someone forces the issue? Second, why should they have to settle for the minimum?

In Institutional Racism in the US Health Care System, we learn that “A disproportionate number of racial minorities have no insurance, are unemployed, are employed in jobs that do not provide health care insurance, disqualify for government assistance programs, or fail to participate because of administrative barriers.”

In the 2008 documentary, Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?, the filmmakers find that HIV is steadily increasing in the Black community, while it is leveling off in the White community.

Female minorities have the most difficult time obtaining good health care. Sexism and racism overlap. The Black community in the US experiences a higher rate of infant mortality and higher premature birth rates, even when socioeconomic status is taken into account. I’ve read the argument that “some people” just don’t know how to take care of themselves. This is thinly veiled racism at its best.

If you’ve ever been to a grocery store that has an organic section, you’ve likely noticed that the organic food is more expensive than the non-organic. You may also have noticed that the food that is the worst for you – candy, chips, soda, etc. – is far cheaper than food that is good for you. There are numerous reasons for this, which I don’t have the space to go into here. The bottom line is, it’s cheaper to feed a family of four Hamburger Helper than sauteed free-range, hormone-free chicken breasts with a spring salad.

There is racism in the health care system. It has been studied and quantified. Black people and other ethnic minorities are dying because of disparities in care. I think it’s important to realize this, as another way of fighting for our kids.