Jennifer Cramblett and the Inconvenience of Blackness

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Someone posted the story of Jennifer Cramblett and her ongoing campaign to hold Midwest Sperm Bank responsible for giving her and her partner the wrong sperm on my Facebook wall.  I thought about writing in the comments but I didn’t agree with most of the people.

If you are not familiar with the story, Jennifer Cramblett and her partner Amanda Zinkon are a white lesbian couple who decided to start their family using artificial insemination. She and her partner originally selected sperm from a white male, but due to a clerical mistake, they were impregnated with sperm from an African-American man.

And then Midwest Sperm Bank was like, “Oops.  Our bad.  Here’s a refund for the black guy’s sperm.  And uh…yeah, don’t call here no more.”

Yo!!!  Can you imagine?

You have to read the details of how it actually happened in their lawsuit, but that’s pretty accurate. It’s like a skit from “In Living Color.”

Honestly, I never understood the anger towards these parents.  I’ve always been sympathetic to their plight and completely support both of their lawsuits.

Because I get it.   Being Black is hard in and of itself.  But unexpected blackness. Whew!  Unexpected blackness can jack your whole life up.

This couple was expecting to live their lives in their normal privileged way, never having to significantly confront their own personal biases.   They lived in Uniontown, Ohio where the population is 98% white (98%, wow!), so they were living in basically uninterrupted whiteness.  Jennifer never even met a real life black person until college. Their family barely claims them because they are lesbians.

This couple is the textbook example of people that should not be raising a child of color (unless, of course, they are adopting and then the desire to parent is way more important than their actual ability to provide a life conducive to raising a child of color).

*shade intended*

In my opinion, these ladies are THE REALEST white people.  Because they acknowledged that raising a black child wasn’t what they planned and that someone needed to be held accountable.

They had absolutely no qualms with saying, “UN-AC-CEPTABLE! We did not order this blackness and someone has to pay!”

If that isn’t privilege for you…I don’t know what is.

But fortunately for their daughter, they didn’t stop there with their own feelings.

They had the foresight to realize that their current lifestyle wasn’t going to be conducive to raising a black child.  They realized that they needed to move, find new jobs, leave their friends, and completely uproot their lives.  Real talk. That’s a lot.

They do have to seek out hair care products and special salons to take care of their child’s hair. They now have to make friends that aren’t white when they haven’t dealt with people of color on a regular basis for most of their lives.  They are choosing to go to counseling to deal with their own biases and prejudices as well as to learn how to create a safe space for their child.  For real, for real. That is hard.  There is a cost for all of that.

But most of the responses that I see online about Jen Cramblett don’t acknowledge the reality of what she is experiencing.  The online comments about their story seem to be focused on silencing her.


Be happy that you have a healthy baby.

Don’t keep saying that parenting a black child is different and has changed your entire life.

Don’t keep saying that in order to raise a black child, you may have to move, leave your family, lose your friends, interrogate your privilege, go to counseling, learn new skills, be in spaces where you feel uncomfortable, meet new people, be rejected at times, have your intentions and love for your child be constantly questioned, feel isolated, feel alone, feel scared, feel that blackness is harder than you knew or ever anticipated.   

Don’t keep saying that being black in this society can be inefficient and inconvenient.

Don’t keep highlighting that there are actual places (in 2016!) where blackness is unacceptable.  Don’t point out that our society is perfectly fine with inhabiting, perpetuating and raising white children in those spaces.

And seriously, don’t try to put a cost on your pain. Because to quantify it might make it real.

Why can’t we hold Jennifer Cramblett’s truth?

Is it possible that we don’t want to hear, no matter who is saying it, how being Black in America comes with a set of issues and circumstances that make it challenging just to live our regular lives?


I truly believe that Jennifer and her partner can do two things at the same time.  They can love and raise their black child while suing Midwest Sperm Bank for gross neglect and incompetence.  Pointing out an injustice doesn’t mean that they aren’t dealing with it appropriately in their home.  In fact, we don’t seem to give Jennifer enough credit for the work that she is doing in identifying the changes that her and her partner need to make in order to positively support their beautiful baby girl.

But pssst.  Here’s the real deal, just for you Jen.  One drop makes you black. So y’all are a bonafide black family now.  And no one listens to us.


  1. She’s actually at fault to according to the facts in the suit – they labelled it correctly, if she or her doctor had checked the vials they would have seen the mistake, hey your previous vials were #330 and these say #380 – just like the receptionist did when she ordered it stating #380 instead of #330 and she had to correct her. Makes sense you’d check to make sure you got what you ordered, especially considering the mix up at the time of ordering.

    It’s fine to file a lawsuit – but I don’t like that she’s made a spectacle of her child for years in the media, that isn’t required to make her case in court. It’s wrong, the potential for harm is there.

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