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as a poc adoptee, let me tell you there is no better way to start your day than having to argue publicly with your white adoptive mom about whether or not the racism you experienced is valid.
I didn’t realize how strong and thick my armor against racism had grown until the day I realized I didn’t have it anymore. We were parking outside the Seward Cafe, and a man walked right up to our car and said, “Chinaman, This is my country!” and although I used to be able to just brush it off by thinking, “What a crazy freak!” this time I could not because I have lived 9 years in Korea without people being racist against me (although they are to other people), and because of that I have lost my skills to deal with street racism, and those words hurt just as much as they did when I was a kid, before I had accumulated 30 years’ worth of armor and mental acrobatics to protect myself from everyday life. This happened the day after I got my receipt checked at the door at Walmart and my bag emptied to make sure I wasn’t stealing anything, which was the day after exactly the same thing happened at exactly the same Walmart. Living with discrimination erodes a little bit of your human dignity every day. The fact that we need so much armor to get through the day, and that we have to teach our children to act for the sake of safety rather than the sake of their dignity, and the fact that if I had a child, my child would have seen me targeted and humiliated rather than talk back to that man because I was concerned for my safety — makes me so, so angry.
a thread soon formed with people adding their own experiences with racism. and i added my own comments with some of my experiences with racism growing up in the states, including a reference to a racist question that my uncle (mom’s younger brother) used to ask me every time i saw him:
i remember kids (and even a TENURED PROF AT MY UNIVERSITY) making gibberish noises imitating what they thought asian languages sounded like, yelling at me to go back to my country, pulling back their eyes at me, i had my own uncle asking me where he could “get two little girls like you” every time i saw him, i had people asking me if my vagina was sideways way before i even understood what that could even mean, i had people giving me weird “compliments” like “pretty as a lotus flower” or crap like that, people asking me if i was chinese or japanese, which was still better than the many people who called me a chink and jap. my sister said she had a little girl follow her into a bathroom stall to see if hers was the same… this is just off the top of my head. (and for reference, i lived in maryland, tennessee, indiana, and illinois)
i should mention that i’ve already written (here) about my uncle and his insistence on asking me this question every time i’ve seen him and how i was finally able to tell him to get stuffed at the age of 30.
what is not included in that previous post is that even AFTER that visit when i made my displeasure with my uncle’s question clear, my mom asked my uncle to repeat it in front of jinwoo (as a cute family story!) on my next visit when i went with him to the US and he met my family for the first time. this is how oblivious my white parents are to racism and their dismissive attitude toward my clear expressions of boundaries as it relates to race.
so after i brought it up again in that comment, my mom responds:
Ur uncle loves u and he was never making fun of u.
i think carefully for a full twelve minutes on how to respond. i am basically boiling angry at this point, but part of me thinks i should address this privately, not publicly. but i decide no. i can’t just allow this to stand publicly. i’m tired of being the accommodating one, it has clearly gotten me nowhere so far. still, in an act of enormous restraint, i only answer:
how do you still not recognize that as racist?
to which my mom responds, flat-out:
It was never racist.
oh ok, thank you white mom for invalidating my feelings on the racism that i experienced. this time i think for a good thirty minutes. i do not want to publicly thrash my mom but i have made my decisions about not continuing to sugarcoat discussions with race with my family anymore. and i answer:
mom, i’m not going to keep arguing with you about this publicly. if you don’t think that was racist then that’s deeply frustrating. did he ever ask that question to anyone else but sharon and me? (i.e. my white brothers and sisters) no. does that mean i think he’s a horrible person and i hate him? no. does it mean i’m going to pretend it wasn’t racist and humiliating every time i heard it? not any more.
no word from her (either publicly or privately) since then. my guess is that she is feeling sorry for herself and won’t initiate contact for awhile. still trying to decide if i should call or text her for the holidays.
you handled this beautifully. big props.
(Trigger warning: sexual violence, rape, torture)
Few mediums reveal the White sexual imperialistic exploitation of Asian women more so than pornography. In a 2002 study conducted by Jennifer Lynn Gossett and Sarah Byrne, out of thirty-one pornographic websites that depicted rape or torture of women, more than half showed Asian women as the rape victim and one-third showed White men as the perpetrator. The study further uncovered a strong correlation between race and pedophilia, advertising with titles such as “Japanese Schoolgirls” or “Asian Teens.” Furthermore, images of Asian women in pornographic forms consistently came up through a keyword search for “torture.” Many scholars warn that race-specific pornography contributes to race specific sexual violence. Since the overwhelming majority of violent pornography features Asian women in particular, it follows that Asian women are at even greater risk of sexual violence due to their role in violent pornography.
Pornography leads to other alarming sexual-racial trends involving Asian women as well. For example, depictions of Filipinas as sexual commodities on the Internet have been linked to the mail-order bride industry in Australia. Researchers further speculate that online sexual commodification of Filipinas may at least partially explain why Filipinas experience disproportionate levels of domestic violence compared to non-Filipina women.
White men’s fascination with Asian women in pornography stems from early nineteenth century Western imperialism. To colonize the Asian nations, countries such as the United States flooded Asia with military forces. As an inevitable result of military presence, prostitution centers consisting of local civilian women sprung up to cater to the White servicemen. With these sexual experiences as their main, if not only, encounters with Asian women, White servicemen returned home with the generalization that Asian women are hypersexualized and always willing to comply with White man’s prurient demands. This germinated even more interest in Asian women as sexual objects. To sustain this increased interest, the Asian sex tour industry developed. Asian sex tourism further perpetuates the stereotype of Asian women as hypersexualized and always willing.If Asian women are perceived as hyper-sexual, it understandably follows that sexually explicit materials, pornography for example, would include a preponderance of Asian women."
Not a message I received, but if I did, I’d probably try to reach through my monitor and slap the shit out of this guy.
this makes me so pissed off. “I’m a white guy shouldn’t all of you like me??”
I want to tell you an honest truth people, because of all the racism I have endured in my life (and even seeing the racism my own children have had to face) I cannot help but resent when caucasians write about Asian culture. Yes, I resent them. I absolutely do. Yet, at the same time, I appreciate them for at least trying to do it, when they do it right.
It is a complicated situation. There is no easy answer. We need diversity in literature. We need it desperately. Diversity is not only for the under-represented—the truth is, diversity is important for everyone. All people need to be exposed to other races and other cultures in positive ways. All people need to learn tolerance and acceptance of differences. When we promote only a homogeneous view of society in our literature and our media, and deem books or movies about minorities as unsuccessful, it harms everyone. And so it is important that all authors include diversity in their books.
But there is that part of me that wonders why is it that when I see a list about what Asian fantasy books are out there, the books are predominantly by caucasian authors. Are POC writers not writing them or are they being passed over for books written by non-POC authors instead? And why is it that books by or about POC don’t tend to sell as well as other “mainstream” books. What is the difference? Is it the difference in how they are marketed? Is it their cover art? Where they are placed in the bookstore or library? How they are pushed or not pushed by the booksellers, librarians, and teachers?"
Know your history.
Know other transracial adoptees’ histories.
Cultivate awareness of current events.
Connect the dots.
Review and reexamine previous notion that vehement opposition to this demand-driven, multi-billion, neo-imperialist industry is reducible to “view points.”
[Ask made rebloggable. Shoutout to AngryAsianGirlsUnited for the signal boostage.]
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