From across a restaurant, a customer noticed something different about a woman over the aisle: she was white, but her daughter was black. When a discussion between the two erupted, a grandfather at another table knew that he had to step in and make things right.
The grandfather dining in the restaurant had no idea that the entire interaction was part of a hidden camera show called What Would You Do?. The series, put on by ABC News, hires actors to start an argument or perform some illegal actions. Hidden cameras then catch how bystanders respond.
This segment focused on the topic of mixed-race adoption and whether diners would intervene when one customer berated another for welcoming a child of a different race into their family. It was a hot-button topic for many reasons.
Firstly, though, mixed-race adoption hasn’t always been an option for parents who wanted to adopt. Before the Multiethnic Placement Act was passed in Congress in 1996, social workers only placed children with guardians of the same race.
But the change in the policy eventually led to a rise in the number of interracial adoptions in the U.S. A 2017 report from the Institute for Family Studies stated, “The proportion of adopted kindergartners being raised by a mother of a different race or ethnic group rose by 50 percent between 1999 and 2011.”
On top of that, one out of every 25 families in the U.S. have an adopted child, which meant that a discussion on the subject would probably resonate with many viewers. And it very quickly became clear on the adoption-focused segment of What Would You Do? that a certain grandfather had some thoughts of his own.
In the scene, there were three actors: the mother, her daughter and a restaurant patron who had a lot to say about the mixed-race family. “So, is she adopted?” the disgruntled patron asked. During this initial exchange, the grandfather simply looked on.
But the patron quickly takes her line of questioning to the next level. “You had the option. You didn’t have to get a black child,” she fired at the mother, who responded, “I guess not, no.” Then, the patron asked her if she was “trying to rescue the black babies.”
With that, the grandfather could no longer hold his tongue. So he stepped into the conversation and spoke directly to the woman leading the offensive line of questioning. “Excuse me, ma’am,” he said. “Some of your questions seem very offensive.”
To him, though, they hit especially close to home, for reasons that he quickly revealed. “I have a black daughter also who’s adopted,” he told the rude patron. She quickly fired back, “Did you choose to adopt a black baby?” Before she could even finish the sentence, the grandfather responded, “Absolutely.”
He continued to talk to the woman sitting across from him. “There are all kinds of babies that need families,” he said. “I just feel like they’ll never be a real family,” she retorted. But the grandfather wasn’t going to accept that argument. “Absolutely a real family,” he said.
Then, the man then decided to give the restaurant patron a bit of advice, although they kept cutting each other off amid the heated conversation. “You seem to be very offensive between racial…” he said, before she spoke over him to state, “I don’t mean to be offensive.”
But the grandfather wasn’t willing to accept this excuse. “That’s what it comes across as, ma’am,” he said. Then, he advised the woman to “just button it because you’re being very offensive.” He even gestured to his own mouth as if he was closing it.
What he did next was even more incredible. He stood up and addressed the mother of the adopted child, who sat quietly as he defended her family. “I’m sorry, I just had to butt in because it seemed very offensive,” he whispered to her.
He then spoke more about his own family. “I have a black daughter, and she’s married to a black guy,” the grandfather told the adoptive mother. “I’ve got three black grandchildren and they’re just a wonderful family,” he went on. “Your daughter’s your daughter. Your kid is your kid.”
And with that, a What Would You Do? cameraman emerged from behind the scenes, as did the show’s host, John Quiñones. He revealed to the grandfather that he was on a TV show before asking him what he had been thinking throughout the exchange.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the grandfather knew exactly what to say. “I just felt there’s too much racial prejudice in this world,” he said. “And, you know, if someone’s offensive, they need to be informed they’re offensive.”
Then, Quiñones asked about the man’s daughter, whom he’d spoken about multiple times throughout the discussion. “You adopted a black child?” the TV show host asked. “Absolutely,” replied the man.
The grandfather went on to say, “She means just as much to me as anyone’s daughter would to them.” He then corroborated that statement by adding, “I would go to the end of the world for her.”
As the segment ended, the grandfather wrapped it up with one final thought that likely hit home for many viewers. “Race becomes an issue only if you let it become an issue,” he said. “A child is a child, I don’t care what color they are. Why should that make any determination as to how we act towards one another?”