Sunday, April 4, 2010

mess with the identities of their adopted non-white children

This is a guest post by eponymous blogger Asian American Movement. It first appeared here.

"78% of Asian TRAs Consider Themselves White"

Last year, the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute issued an interesting report on transracial Asian adoptees (TRAs) in America. One finding that was most provocative addressed the racial identification of TRAs…

As this New York Times article notes, 78% of TRAs considered themselves to be White or wished they were White when they were children.

While shocking, this percentage is also somewhat understandable given that TRAs are deracinated from their countries of origin and are often raised in a predominantly White milieu.

To me, the experience of TRAs is in some ways a metaphor for the experience of many Asian Americans in general, regardless of whether or not they were adopted.

In particular, the sense of cultural dislocation and identity issues that are sometimes experienced by TRAs are also felt keenly by Asian Americans.

Moreover, not a few Asian Americans either tacitly or directly think of themselves as ”Honorary White” people, or they are perceived as such by society in general.

This Honorary White status in part is what the Asian American Model Minority stereotype is about: Asian Americans are a ”house negro” class between the White majority and minorities such as Blacks and Latinos.

In his seminal essay "Racist Love," Frank Chin talks about the lack of a distinctive Asian American identity and culture, and the consequent embrace of White values by many Asian Americans.

This self-destructive identification with Whiteness is expressed at many different levels, from the cultural to the political, and it's an important tendency within the Asian American community, which itself is highly fragmented and weak.

The fact that certain Asian Americans (cough, Michelle Malkin) wholeheartedly embrace this Honorary White identity of their own volition says a lot about them as individuals and about the sorry state of the Asian American community in general.

People like Michelle Malkin more openly and nakedly exemplify this racial identification in everything but name.

This identification with Whiteness is even expressed in one’s choice of romantic partners. As the Times article notes, one TRA named Kim Eun Mi Young said that when she was younger she “would date only white teenagers, even when Asian boys were around.”

Young explains that: “At no time did I consider myself anything other than white…. I had no sense of any identity as a Korean woman. Dating an Asian man would have forced me to accept who I was.”
This is reminiscent of Frank Chin’s comments about the deeper significance of the high outmarriage rates among Asian Americans.

Questioning the idea that “love is colorblind,” Asian American outmarriage rates, Chin suggested, are reflective of  “a people who failed to generate an identity and culture attractive and compulsive enough to make our people attractive to each other and survive as a people and grow as a culture” (Letter to Y’bird, 1977).

In other words, without a distinctive Asian American culture, there really is nothing that holds “Asian America” together as a people.

Indeed, what would really be interesting to find out is what percentage of non-adoptee Asian Americans either consider themselves White or wished they were White as children.

More about the findings of the Evan Donaldson report can be found on the TRA blog Harlow’s Monkey.


  1. Indeed, what would really be interesting to find out is what percentage of non-adoptee Asian Americans either consider themselves White or wished they were White as children.

    I'm a non-adoptee Chinese American, my parents were immigrants. And there is absolutely no desire for me to change anything about the way I was born. True, when I was younger, I noticed that some people thought of me as a stereotype. But then, my parents also were quick to instill in me that anybody who treated me as such is probably an uneducated buffoon anyway.

  2. Whoa.

    I kinda suspected this phenomenon occuring, but not at the levels of what was described. I knew Michelle Malkin is the poster girl of this kind of thinking. In a lot of ways this mirrors the kind of thinking that some blacks have, but with certain similarities and differences.

    This reminds me of the time I read about the anime cartoon "Sailor Moon". I admit that I used to watch that cartoon, but I digress. I remember reading where the creator of the story Naoko Takeuchi said that she modeled the characters after Americans because she thought Americans were so beautiful. If that is so, then it's obvious which kind of Americans she modeled after.

  3. I grew up identifying as white, and wishing I had my father's blue eyes. Learning to accept my Filipina identity has truly been a process that only began three years ago. Thus, the extent to which this article resonates with me is ... distressing. :(

  4. The only problem I have with this article is the fact that it ignores the diversity within the Asian-American community that, in part, makes cohesion difficult. Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and so on: the Asian-American community may well have more differences than similarities between them.

  5. Just looking for some clarification: are you suggesting that parents seeking adoption should stick to adopting within their own race? That wasn't ever said in the post, but it seems to be the implication. Or are you suggesting that this particular problem could be addressed if white adoptive parents were aware of the racial identity struggle that their Asian children are facing?

  6. It may be unrelated, but in a lot of Asian cultures, lighter skin is seen as "better." Though, since these are people removed from those cultures, that wouldn't apply quite the same.

    On the other hand, does Scott Fujita identify as Japanese?

  7. This is a *huge* issue in the adoption community, and one that not surprisingly, many people avoid discussing. Context - I am the white adoptive mother of two black sons in an open adoption (we have an ongoing relationship with their birthmother).

    As in the rest of our culture, there is a racial hierarchy in adoption. Gender plays a role as well, especially the darker the child's skin.

    I am writing this as factually as possible, but please know that when I entered the world of adoption as a prospective adoptive parent, I was shocked by some of this information. Maybe most of you won't be. But even after years of doing anti-bias work, my white privilege had protected me from what I learned.

    So - most white parents prefer to adopt a white, domestic-born child. 2nd choice? White, Eastern European-born. 3rd choice? Asian. (Lately, the vast majority have been Chinese girls) 4th? Latino, preferably "biracial" with 1 white parent, or a Central American-born child. 5th? biracial ~ 1 black & 1 white parent. Last? African American boy child. Because what will this beautiful baby grow up to be? A Beautiful Black Man.

    OK, so there's all of that. But there's more, because adoption costs money. What I learned (this was in 1995) was that virtually every agency in the country had fees that varied according to the color of the child's skin. I was sick. I was horrified. I was terrified that I would never be a parent - because even though my husband and I felt deeply committed to becoming a multiracial family, and thought we could become good parents to a child of color, honoring that child's history and culture and weaving it into our family, we could not do so in what was essentially an echo of the slave market.

    We looked *all over the country* and found only *one* agency that met our requirements: ongoing support services to *all* prospective birthparents regardless of their eventual parenting decision; willingness to support open adoption; adoption fees extraordinarily based on a donation system ~ give all that you can. I wept with relief and joy the day we found them, just for the *possibility* of a family built on a foundation of integrity and respect for all.

    Back to those lovely, smart, courageous, fiesty, strong girls from China ~ and so many other children like them - the children who started coming from VietNam and Cambodia in the 60's and 70's, the children who came from Korea in vast numbers into the upper MidWest and NorthWest - *so* many of them have had the experiences you describe. Being the only child of color in their small community growing up. Not *knowing* they were people of color - because they weren't black. Not ever talking about race, in their family, in their schools, with their friends.

    And it continues. Many of the families adopting today choose Asian children because they believe racism will impact their children and their families much less than if they adopted a black child. Parents don't talk about race and racism with their adopted Asian children because they don't want their children to feel different, to feel "less than," to feel the sting and the pain.

    I understand that. I really do. When my son was four, he turned to me one day and said "Mama, was *I* ever a slave?" A knife straight to my heart. Not something I would ever want my child to imagine. But a necessary part of his own internal processing of history, race, racism, and his and my relationships to that history and to one another.

    I would really like to hear from adult adoptees on this issue. What shall we do? How do we change the education prospective adoptive parents receive? How do we make it clear that racism affects *all* of us - most hurtfully people of color, but also white people? Orphaned & homeless children need forever families *and* they need strong identities. It cannot be an either/or proposition.

  8. island girl in a land w/o seaApril 4, 2010 at 7:29 PM

    @ saraspeaking

    500 years of spanish colonial rule, followed by 50+ years of US imperialismo has been disastrous for us pilipin@s and pilipin@-americans. the philippines is rather like a TRA; the whole country was "adopted" by the US from 1896 to 1946 and controlled economically for decades after. in the past, pilipin@s regarded themselves as the little brown brothers and sisters of white americans.

    if it's any consolation to you, you're certainly not alone in negotiating pilipina-ness. as a people, we may never reconnect to who we were as a people before magellan showed up, but i so want to believe that there's way to construct a pilipino identity that stands on its own, without being scaffolded to the US or spain. makibaka, huwag matakot.

  9. This is a really interesting article. Although I'm a white person who is somewhat ignorant of these kinds of things (hence coming to this site to learn more), I feel like this is a trend I've actually observed a little bit of.

    There is one thing I'm not sure how to feel about, though. I mean, I agree that on the larger scale, this is absolutely problematic, but when it comes to specific individuals, don't people have the right to come to their own conclusions about self-identity/what they deem their culture? I mean, I don't know, I'm just a little bit torn about that aspect.

    An anecdotal example, to me, would be I knew of three sisters who were mixed Vietnamese-American (American mother, Vietnamese father); although they had physical features which would more strongly identify them as of Asian heritage, at least two of the girls preferred to identify as white (as I understand it, their parents may actually have been separated, at any rate). Would this be considered an example of culturally "selling out," as it were, or is it seen as a legitimate self-identification (analogous, perhaps, to identifying as a gender other than what people would deem you based on your biological sex)?

    Genuinely curious; as I said, this isn't an issue I have much firsthand experience with trying to navigate.

  10. @Andrea: Thank you for sharing. Have you considered writing a guest post on the topic? You seem really knowledgeable and having a dedicated post would probably attract some of the comments from adult adoptees you're looking for.

    @catb: Indeed lumping "Asian American" together as one identity is extremely problematic. It's one thing to address issues that seem to have some commonality between PoC from different Asian descents, but the lamenting of a lack of identity to "hold 'Asian America' together as a people" is just as inappropriate as the phenomenon of treating Africa as a country.

    @Sadface: I'm not sure what the post author had in mind, but contrary to WIWL "look at me I'm not racist!" nonsense, I would say a person should never consider adoption without first committing oneself to addressing of all the impact it will have on the child's identity and psyche. And for a white parent considering adopting a PoC child, that means taking a severe plunge into the world of anti-racist deprogramming before adopting. If this means the vast majority of white people, who are too self-absorbed in their privilege to go through any real learning process, should not adopt non-white babies, then so be it. (Of course, I would also say such people should not adopt white babies or make their own babies either...)

  11. @Andrea

    Believe it or not, but this is also an issue for biracial children. I am half white and half Korean, my dad being the white American. We never talked about race, and it wasn't a big deal for me growing up because I deal with my bicultural identity by pretending the Korean part didn't exist. Externally I was biracial, but internally I self-identified as a white American. It wasn't until I was 20 that I began to personally acknowledge the fact that I was Korean and that I was different than my white friends.

    When I started embracing my full identity, I was able to understand racial dynamics in a more critical manner. However, I never thought about the fact that discussions about race were missing from my upbringing until I had a conversation with my dad a few weeks ago. He was expressing some surprising beliefs about how he supported racial profiling in airports. He didn't realize that his saying that meant he supports the idea of holding an entire racial group of people accountable for the actions of a radical few. He didn't realize that by signing off on that idea, that he was also signing off on the idea that it would be okay for me, my brother, and my mom to be targeted for our race if it were ever the case that Korean, or East Asians in general, were the group of interest.

    This conversation made me realize that that my white, American father, who is married to a Korean woman and has two half-Korean children, was completely ignorant about race. My mother never talked with us about race either, but I don't "blame" her as much since she came from a homogeneous culture in the first place, and she was dealing with her own first time experiences with racism and cultural conflicts.

    I think the solution needs to come from the parents, especially the white parents, educating themselves about the issues of race in our country. I remember reading another blog that was making fun of the fact that many white people believe that the best way to deal with racism is to never talk about race, but that is the root of the problem.

  12. first off - Andrea's comment left me in tears. Thanks for sharing.

    re the post: It's not that I ever consciously thought of myself as 'white', but I did have to go through a process (which only started about a year ago) of accepting my racial identity as 'Asian' and stop having a subconscious desire of being accepted in the 'white club' (i.e. seeing 'white' as superior). It's been life-changing once I realized I had this desire and that I was actually 'Asian'. Duh. Like, seriously, DUH. I find that I'm much more confident now around white people as I no longer have that (subconscious) feeling that they are superior. I don't yet have the words to describe what the change feels like, but it's definitely different and good.

    That is not to say, however, that I subscribe to a sort of pan-Asian or pan-Asian-Americanish sort of identity. Nor do I see the need to do so, at least not for me. I'm culturally mixed and that's that. Accepting the fact that I'm Asian is different from subscribing to a particular culture.

    Also, I've been drawn to posts and stories about transracial adoption ever since I found out about some of their identity struggles. I've been wondering why, and this post kinda explains that. I suppose I can relate to it to an extent.

  13. I'm glad you guys are talking about this issue because I have a story to tell you.

    First of all, I'm Chinese-american with more of what's considered to be "racially ambiguous" looks but I'm comfortable with the fact that i'm 100% ethnic chinese and even though I hate being a part of a group that is discriminated against, I would never change my own ethnicity. I like being Chinese-american, in spite of the problems my ethnicity can bring me due to the inherent biases of society at large.

    Ok, on to the story. I once met a chinese-american girl who looks VERY asian in a stereotypical way. First of all, she's not good looking (yes I apologize for denigrating someone's looks. it's wrong but it's relevant to the story) She is on the chubby side, which makes her face look extremely round. You'd be hard-pressed to find any contour in her facial features. And she's also very pale and has very small single-lidded eyes. She's the only asian person I've ever met who actually LOOKS like the racist caricature of asian people.

    I assumed that because she looks SO drastically unlike the vast majority of white people, she must be less "whitewashed" than a lot of asian-americans. But to my surprise, she told me she only dates white men and she's not into asian guys AT ALL. She'll basically date any ethnicity (if white men were not available) as long as the guy isn't asian.

    And I just sort of gawked at her. I wanted to ask her WHY but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Politeness is basically conditioned in me and I don't become a nosy rude person unless I'm extremely antagonized.

    I could not and STILl can't understand HOW she can be offended by the way asian men look when she probably looks more "asian" than 90% of the asian men in the world.

    I can understand (but still disapprove) if an anglo-looking asian person prefers white men over asian men because they have more facial features in common and it might explain why asian men look more "foreign" to them. But I cannot understand how a person who looks super-asian can consider asian men to be unappealing.

    How can the phenotype of asian men look unappealing and foreign to a woman who has the very same features to the extreme?!

    If she can hate the way asian men look, then how can she not hate herself? What does she see when she looks in the mirror?!

    My interaction with her left me feeling very...unsettled. And it unsettles me to this day.

    And I also wonder the kind of white men who'll date her. She does not fit in the western beauty ideal AT ALL except for her very fair skin. Other than that, she...really does nto suit the ideal. Does that mean she happily dates men who fetishize her? I honestly wonder if she actively courts white men who simply want an asian woman as a commodity.

    and no, I'm not against IR dating/marriage. I'm as attracted to white men as I am attracted to asian men. It's just harder for me to meet asian men because there are virtually no asian men my age in my area. but I would never eliminate a guy immediately for being asian.

  14. @andrea

    I think you have a pretty good knowledge basis of the issues that are plaguing interracial adoption. I hope you the best with your children and I hope you'll educate any other IR adoptive parents you meet. Until a few weeks ago, the idea of white-asian IR adoption was simply something i read in blogs. But then one day, I saw TWO count that TWO white families with asian daughters. I don't know the families so I didn't go up to them or talk to them. But when I saw the families, I honestly felt worried for the little girl. I wonder if the little girl will grow up feeling disconnected and filled with self loathing. I also wonder if the little girls will grow up to think assimilation and being an honorary white is more important than feeling comfortable with their own identity. I was raised in all whtie neighborhoods and even though I have asian parents, evne *I* felt disconnected with my asian identity until my high school years (which incidentally, is when we moved to an area with more asian-americans).


    Yea, a lot of asian people prefer light skin. But a lot of white people also historically prefer light skin too. Remember all the fairytales that talk about how fair the princesses are? The beauty can have eyes and hair that goes from golden tresses to snow white's ebony locks but the skin color is non-negotiable. The skin MUST be fair, and in many cases, fairer than most of their own people.

    I don't know why that is but I've noticed culture all over the world have a distinct preference for light skin. And asian cultures have preferred light skin even before much contact with the west. And since a lot of east asians have light skin and the fact that some of the ruling class have historically been light-skinned asians, dark-skin was/is associated with the lower class. So the preference for light skin also has some socioeconomic influence too. Only commoners had dark skin because only commoners had to work under the hot sun.

    Maybe the reason european fairy tales always emphasized the fairness of the princess's skin is also because princesses did not need to toil in the fields under the blazing sun. I don't know.

  15. Some of the people here mentioned the "asian-american" label and I feel I should talk about it too.

    First of all, asian people are not of ONE ethnicity or one culture. There is a lot of differences between different groups of asian people.

    That said, I fully embrace the asian-american label and here's why.

    I don't know how many of you know of the Vincent Chin murder but in 1982(?) a Chinese-American by the name of Vincent Chin was murdered by two white automobile workers in Michigan because they blamed the japanese autoindustry for the collapse of the american auto industry. These two white men were looking to "punish" the cause of their woes and when they saw Vincent, they saw him as the villain. It did NOT matter to them that Vincent wasn't even of Japanese ethnicity or that he is an american. These two men beat vincent to death. I believe the last words vincent uttered before he passed out was "this isn't fair".

    The two white men went to trial and they were acquitted. Then a lot of asian-americans started to notice that HEY, maybe things AREN'T as fair as we thought and maybe justice ISN'T applied equally to all people. There were some protests and the men were tried a few more times but in the end, one guy was acquitted (if memory serves me right) and the other guy only got probation.

    And then there was the re-birth of asian-american activism. Americans of all sorts of asian descent realized that to other people, we were all the same. And if we continued to act in a fractured manner, we will never have enough political power to change things for the better. And so the term "asian-american" was embraced by most of my generation because we wanted to create more solidarity among all of us because we are all vulnerable to what happened to Vincent Chin.

    And that is why I embrace the asian-american label even though I'm specifically Chinese-american with recent ties in Taiwan. (my grandparents were from china)

  16. @Andrea:

    I second riche's suggestion that you do a guest post here. I feel inclined to e-mail you and just pick your brain, but I won't. I think you have so much to offer if you'll share your story with more people...

  17. I'm also a non-adoptee but I've never really struggled with my asian identity. That doesn't mean, however, that I never wished I was white. I just never identified as white. I grew up in the US in a predominantly asian community, and that certainly helped form my ethnic identity. In this predominantly asian community, I first identified as Chinese because this was how I primarily differed from my peers. Then I identified as Chinese American when I got to college and was in a less Asian dominated community. Finally, I identified as Asian American when I began learning about anti-racist work. Looking back, the process is interesting to me because at each stage, the subtle changes in my identity had little to do with how I chose to identify. It had more to do with how I was perceived. My asian peers in high school saw me as Chinese. My college peers saw me as Chinese, but not quite for I wasn't what they imagined as a stereotypical Chinese. And finally the realization that at times, others didn't see me as anything more than just Asian.

  18. @Justin
    I've seen a few different articles about Fujita where he says that he feels close connection to his cultural Japanese roots. His grandmother and father have both impressed traditions upon the family and he seems very connected to them (the traditions and family members).

    I am a Korean-American adoptee raised in Minnesota (with loads of other TRA adoptees). I'm not sure what kinds of education can be made available, but I worry that no matter what's done, few parents will take the time to educate themselves. A lot of people need a push and it seems to me that you are in a wonderful position to help educate other (potential) adoptive parents about how their children and your children are affected by the community you live in.
    I wish that my parents had had more open dialogs with me about race growing up and that they had been the ones to initiate it. I hope the best for you and your family, there seems to be a lot of love and thought going into raising them.

    I am quite similar to you. I don't think I ever thought of myself as white, but I definitely thought of myself as different, and not necessarily in a good way. I'm interested in what other blogs you follow, I'm trying to find more to read.

    The idea of 'honorary' status is something I find really disturbing. I can't quite put my finger on why it makes my skin crawl and I'm wondering if anyone else feels this way too?

  19. Reading the post and some of the comments, I was wondering (and hoping for some clarity) @ the following:

    If, as a TRA or biracial or Asian American, you identify or used to identify as white, does that mean you didn't encounter racism? If you did encounter it, how did you reconcile that with being white?


    (derail) I've seen this comment a couple of times on different threads: lighter skin is preferred all over the world, irrespective of colonialism. I disagree w/r/t the 2nd largest continent. (/derail)

  20. @TAB

    For me, I didn't understand what was happening to me as racism. When my friends were always reminding me that I was Asian and laughing at me when I said things like "happy ending", they were just being funny! When older men approached me to ask about my ethnicity, they were just being creepy! Etc, etc, etc.

    I think I would blame the other person for their action without thinking too deeply about what was motivating them. Maybe that was because I was young, or maybe it was because I was in denial. With my friends, who were all white, I rationalized their behavior. Who wants to be one of those overbearing POCs who can't take a joke? Not me! I was the "cool" asian person who was so "white-washed" that my ethnicity didn't matter!

    Luckily I grew out of this attitude, but it's not easy to do. It takes a high level of functioning self-loathing to maintain false whiteness, and it can be a powerful force to overcome. However, accepting my true identity allowed me to understand a lot of what confused me growing up. I realized that people weren't always reacting to me as a person, but that they were often reacting to me as an asian person first.

  21. Amber said...

    "An anecdotal example, to me, would be I knew of three sisters who were mixed Vietnamese-American (American mother, Vietnamese father);"

    The mother could be Vietnamese American or Chinese American or African American, but I don't think that's what you mean, is it?

    The implicit idea that American=white always hits a nerve. When I speak to non Americans it's always the case.

    I'm here to say that I AM AN AMERICAN, born in the USA, as were my ancestors going back centuries. and I am not white.

    Love the blog!

  22. This is a really interesting article. Thank you for sharing it and for all of the interesting comments. I have often wondered about this. I grew up in a predominately white community, as a black person, and there were more Asian-American minorities (from the entire continent but mostly China, Korea and India) than blacks. I often wondered about some of my Asian-American classmates and how they felt about fitting in. On one occasion, I remember overhearing some white kids making some kind of derogatory comment about Jews (something about being cheap) and a Korean-American TRA (who must have been adopted as a young child vs as a baby b/c she had a strong Korean accent) joined in and made some crack. My jaw dropped, I wanted to grab her and scream, "they make fun of you behind your back too!!" but I didn't. It made me mad at her and sad for her all at the same time.

  23. >How can the phenotype of asian men look unappealing and foreign to a woman who has the very same features to the extreme?!

    Perhaps it's why many who do not look like covergirl/boy material still think covergirl/boy material is 'attractive' and dream of dating them?

    @special j: re the label 'asian american' - I suppose I was thinking more in terms of culture and identity as opposed to a practical means to equality. But now that you mention it, I get what you mean.

    I'm interested in what other blogs you follow, I'm trying to find more to read. [carriebot]

    hahaha. I'm probably the wrong kind of Asian to ask. Mostly swpd. Sometimes Eurasian Sensation, Choptensils, Racialicious, Abagond, Raving Black Lunatic, Restructure. Once in a blue moon I'll read the ones listed here on the right with the word 'asian' in the blog title, or Asian Australian blogs that Eurasian Sensation suggested.

    But I seem to have a tendency to avoid Asian American/Australian blogs. I'm not really an AA. I'm an Asian who was born in the West, but raised in a few places in Asia, but went through a fully Western educational system in Asia. Hence, culturally speaking (in terms of being part Western and part Asian) I'm probably closest to AAs and relate best to them. Heck, I grew up thinking I was American until early adulthood. (Hence, I think educational systems have a profound impact on a youth’s sense of identity.) But because I don't share that history of being raised in the West, when I read AA blogs, I sometimes feel excluded. And I’ve thought a lot about why. I think it’s when the talk takes a "we, AAs" vs "them, non-AAs" spin, or a "we (AAs)" vs "them (Asian born/raised Asians)" spin, or simply when the “we, AAs” feel comes across particularly strong. I hate the (exclusion) feeling I get when I read this, but I don't know when it'll come up, so I tend to avoid AA blogs, or read it with care when I do read. Initially, I simply didn't find myself drawn to them and wondered why. Recently I realized why, or so I think. Basically, it’s easier for me to relate to the topic when it’s more about racism or identity in general as opposed to a specifically Asian Australian/American identity.

    The only one that doesn’t make me feel this way is an Asian Australian Yahoo discussion group. I’m not sure why. Maybe because most of the subscribers are academics/postgrads who research identity and are highly tuned to such issues, and ready to hear from those with different experiences? *shrugs*

  24. It takes a high level of functioning self-loathing to maintain false whiteness, and it can be a powerful force to overcome.

    p.s. @Sarah - I'd like to understand this more. Could you please elaborate? In my case, I struggled with my tendency to "look down on" Asians (despite being one myself), but it didn't go as far as "self-loathing" (that's a pretty strong word).

    In what way does "self-loathing" appear? What is "false whiteness" like, or how does it work/appear? What kind of process did you go through to overcome it?

  25. @fromthetropics,

    I just read your post. I realize that my question should have been broader because I would love to read responses from people of Asian descent, regardless of ethnicity/nationality. (Duh, I guess I should have said that the first time.)


    Thank you for your response. A big part of why I appreciate this blog is people's willingness to share their experiences.

  26. Thank you for this post; and Andrea, I cosign what so many have said already, that a) you really should write a post if you feel comfortable and b) I'm horrified by what you shared, but glad I now know.

    My only personal two cents is more in response to a theme of the comments, not the original post. I grew up in a very very white place, and most of the non-white students at my school were Asian (most were adoptees, one or two were not). I remember the day, when I was 8 or so, that I realized that Asian kids weren't white. I knew that this one girl, Tina, had been born in Viet Nam, but I had, up until that point, actually thought Viet Nam was a place in the US (I'm obviously post-war generation). I was very confused and surprised to learn that Tina was not white, and from another country no less.

  27. One of the issues I’m curious about… There’s been talk on this blog and others about how some Asian Americans feel when asked “where are you from?” Until I started reading these kinds of blogs, I had no idea that some people were uncomfortable by this question. SO I stopped asking. (I haven’t even asked my roommate, who is Asian American.)

    I loved reading "insist on telling people of asian descent about their own asian experiences", because the writer gave a clear example of the sequence of events that may prove aggravating when this question is asked.

    But the term, “Asian American” strikes me as entirely too ambiguous. I want to ask the question in order to acknowledge the person’s culture and not just lump everybody together.

    But then special j made a good point in this thread about being empowered by the term “Asian American”.

    So I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place. I’m dying to ask about Asian ethnicity, but I don’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Help!!!!

    BTW, I am African American, and I’ve been observing when I am asked “where are you from.” I think people do this to African Americans when you don’t sound like they stereotype African Americans as sounding. As if you must be foreign or something if you speak standard English.

    How'd I get stuck with the name "scally"? :)

  28. scally,

    You got stuck with that name because you submitted your last name anonymously -- please see the note about this issue above the "Leave your comment" box. (I plucked "scally" out of thin air -- I assign anonymous comments with whatever name or term pops into my head.) If you prefer another name, feel free to switch to it.

  29. @island girl in a land w/o sea said: Thank you. I had to look it up, and don't speak enough of any Filipino language to reply in kind, but - thank you.

    @TAB: cosigning with @Sarah. For me, it was ... I don't even know. I was aware that I was different, and that my peers perceived that difference, but I somehow still managed to think of myself as mostly white (with a year-round tan) probably because everyone else was. I had no meaningful concept of my own racialization because everything around me was so homogenous. I knew that the answer to "What are you?" was "Filipino" and could point out the Philippines on a map (and had to, once, when I was accused of making them up), but as far as I was concerned, I was just like everyone else. It wasn't until I hit college and began exploring my Filipina identity (in my senior year, no less) that everything began to click into place, and I began to interpret my memories of, say, classmates saying that I was a shoe-in for UCSD because of affirmative actions as racist, and racially-motivated. It was a huge paradigm shift, and sometimes I feel like I'm still adjusting to it.

  30. @fromthetropics: Speaking from my own experience, I believe it took a pretty high degree of self-loathing to deny such a large part of my identity. I don't mean an active, hateful sort of self-loathing where I was wallowing in despair and saying mean things to myself in the mirror. That's why I called it a functional self-loathing. It was more like a cold indifference. Logically I knew I was part Korean, there's no doubt about that. But at the core of my self-identity, I completely denied my asian background and only saw myself as a white person. I think it's easy to underestimate the impact that this kind of thinking can have since it is not a very active process. However, it wasn't until I accepted my whole identity that I was able to make changes that helped me become more self-assertive, emotionally expressive, confident, self-aware, and had a healthier body image. How could I have had all those things before when I couldn't even accept the fact that I am not only white, but that I am also Korean? It's insidious, and that's why I think it is so dangerous. I think you can boil it down to the idea that, "Who I am is not okay." This idea is certainly not unique to racial/ethnic identity, but it's problematic in that it comes paired with the belief that, "The more white I am, the better I am." The latter statement is where racial/ethnic studies concerns itself.

    In terms of "false whiteness", that's the term that I use to refer to the stage in my life when I believed that I functioned in this world as a white person, so I tried to do everything I could to align myself with white culture, including the way I dressed myself, my interests, my reactions to problematic racial statements, my appearance, the way I presented myself, etc. I think what saved me was the fact that I started questioning my actions. Why was this way better than another? I even tried to join a sorority, which to me is a sort of ultimate white acceptance. At my undergrad, the greek system was the epitome of white culture. That didn't mean POC students weren't involved, but to be a POC in the traditional greek system, you had to exemplify white culture. (I know that there are special interest greek organizations that don't follow this designation. I would say that the less desirable houses were more accepting since they had less social pressure to maintain a certain image, but I believe that this white culture-ness of greek life is especially true for the groups that are recognized as socially desirable.) Not getting into a "good sorority" was the pinnacle of my false whiteness. Coincidentally, this was also the time that I began to read makeup blogs for interest. As trivial as this might sound, reading makeup blogs was the first step in accepting my Korean identity because it was the first time that I admitted to myself that my "asianness" made me different and that I needed to seek out something that was "asian" in particular to meet my needs. At the time it wasn't a very big deal to me because it was such a trivial matter, but you know what they say about journeys and first steps.

    I hope that this is the information that you were asking for, but I wasn't sure if you were looking for a more general treatment of the topic. I am curious to know in which way you look down on asian people and why you think that might be.

  31. I find the title of this post super irritating. As an adoptee who is not of Asian descent, I would like it made known that adoptees regardless of race have their identities messed with (and yes, this includes white adoptees who have white parents...although I'm not white, from snooping around the internets it is clear that TRAs are not alone in this, and certainly not just Asian TRAs) I get the point of this post isn't really focusing on adoptees at all, but looking at the similarities that exist between the Asian American experience and that of TRAs, but I find the title unfeelingly dismissive.

  32. I see what you're saying, capilburn. I'll change the title of the post (which, FTR, originally read "mess with the identities of their adopted children of asian descent").

  33. @Jillian: I had a similar experience. It wasn't until I was a teenager, actually, that I realized that the unfortunately-colored yellow Power Ranger wasn't white at all (I was in elementary school when the show started). I had always know about China and Japan existing, but for some reason I had never drawn an actual connection between East Asian features and nonwhiteness. I had a similar ignorance of basically racial categories, other than black and white, until around the same period. I assumed that everyone who wasn't black counted as white.

    Reflecting on this, I'm embarrassed. Why on Earth don't parents and schools talk directly about race?!

  34. Thank you macon, the change is much appreciated.

  35. my father was born in okinawa to an okinawan mother and a british-american father and moved to NC. he self-identifies as a white republic, is a southern baptist, is a member of the NRA and speaks with a heavy accent. some people describe it as a funny sight - seeing a very distinctly asian-looking man speaking with such a drawl.

  36. I'm a single mom of a TRA (10yo Chinese daughter) I am here to learn how to raise her to be proud of herself and a good world citizen.

    I lurk here and several adoptee websites to improve my parenting. I will answer any questions about why china vs. domestic adoption, etc. and am open to recommendations to improve my daughter's life.

  37. "Reflecting on this, I'm embarrassed. Why on Earth don't parents and schools talk directly about race?!"

    they just aren't qualified. or informed enough. it's a very broad, complex and emotionally charged topic. how could anyone agree on the curriculum? think of all the angry white parents...."my child came home in tears because she feels guilty for being white!" shit they can barely teach history as it is in public schools.

  38. @riche re: "And for a white parent considering adopting a PoC child, that means taking a severe plunge into the world of anti-racist deprogramming before adopting."

    Thank you! I'm afraid that many white parents of non-white adopted children think that not talking about racism (but only focusing on feel-good experiences of the child's heritage culture) is the way to keep the child from negative race-related experiences. What seems more likely to me is that doing so only protects the parents from having to face directly the racist legacy of their own heritage.

  39. This is a *huge* issue in the adoption community, and one that not surprisingly, many people avoid discussing.

    There is PLENTY of discussion of race and deconstruction of white hegemony of privilege in the context of adoption.

    Thing is, the lionshare is coming from transracial adoptees ourselves (as opposed to those who purport to speak FOR us, whether it's the parents or "experts"), and no one else actually pays much attention to what we have to say about our own damn experiences.

  40. @ Commie Bastard - Yes, my language was incorrect. My *meaning* was that many *adoptive parents* and *prospective adoptive parents* and *caseworkers* avoid discusssing these issues. I used the word "people" which was certainly *not* expressive of my meaning - I apologize.

    I would love to read a guest commentary from *you*. As you say, it is you and your peers who are the experts. Many of the best lessons I have learned as a TRA parent have been from adult adoptees.

    @Amber - Yes, it is the necessary right of every person to constuct her or his own identity. The problem is, if the construction site is missing many of the building parts that should be part of that child's strong foundation, the child is left to construct a limited identity with only the parts that are offered. *And,* because part of the framework of racism is *internalized,* children of color, especially those growing up in families and/or communities that are primarily white, are at enormous risk of developing a self-identity that includes self-hatred.

    @fromthetropics - You honor me. I thank you.

    @momengineer - There are so many important aspects of parenting. What is being said here (in my opinion) is that lifelong discussions about bias, racism specifically, are required topics for the healthy growth and development of human beings.

    As you may have noticed by now, I do love to write, and would be happy to write a guest post *if it would be useful.* However, I do think that perhaps hearing from others - adult/teenage adoptees, adult/teenage folks who identify as biracial, might be a more respectful place to start.

  41. Andrea, capilburn, and Commie Bastard, there's clearly a lot more to say on this topic, and there's also a lot of interest in hearing any or all of you say more on it (I'm getting email to that effect as well). Guest posts here are always welcome; I'm at

    unmakingmacon at gmail dot com

  42. Such a loaded topic here, and the focus on Asians in general is interesting yet surprisingly sparsely commented on (props to those who did!). For one thing, the issue of Azn as white is mentioned, and apart from some innocent (sounding) comments about this "phenomenon", nothing much more is said. There was one person who's mentioned the fact that Azns are NOT homogeneous (special J- every time i think about vincent chin my blood boils), and no one really seems to want to talk about "Asianness".

    I'm Chinese, and I'm American. I choose not to hyphenate the two, because I'm not hybrid, I'm not the best of both worlds, and I'm not one over/under the other. I just am. In conversations with friends, I wonder how we can make an Asian American identity more cohesive, and it's damn hard. The only reason we take on this title is because we all face the same type of bs racism that lumps us together, so it's kind of funny to continue to lump ourselves together. At the same time, we gotta coordinate and stand together on anti-racist work, but not only with Azn folks, but with all those other groups that are also fighting the fight!

    Being Chinese is a fact for me, being Asian is a forced image that I must take on, being mad as hell against racist folks is what I need to do, and being in solidarity with allies is what I need to focus more on as always.

    As far as wanting to be white, that means giving up my Chinese food and thinking that I'm better than the world, so no thanks.

  43. Oh and my comment refers mainly to what I have witnessed as someone who went to a mainly Chinese and Vietnamese American high school. I think that Phillipinos do not always fit into the catagory of the OP, nor do Koreans or Japanese Americans very often.

  44. This is really interesting. I've noticed that Asian girls, especially, who grow up in rich, suburban white neighborhoods tend to date white guys, and never Asians- even if they are white-washed.

    I also think this is important in explaining how Asians are considered honorary whites. If we had to rank people in our society that have privilege, Asians would probably be after whites due to their honorary status.

    I've noticed a lot of Asians who have assimilated to a very large degree espouse anti-minority views, and I never understood this.

    your comment is so touching and provides essential information on how adoption/tra adoption is a messed up process in so many ways.

    I certainly agree w/ people who have stated we should start anti-racism education at an early age in schools. But how would we even do this? Most school teachers are white. This may not have anything to do with anything, but like someone else said, you can't be unqualified and teach anti-racism.

    We teach kids to accept each other and not be mean, but this effort is so half-assed.

  45. Relatively few comments I think because a lot of us have little to contribute, but that doesn't mean people are not reading. There's a lot of really intense stuff being talked about.

    A couple of minor thoughts. (1) I have talked to and heard White people who truly believe that being raised in an affluent White household is the best thing that could possibly happen to anyone, that this is hands down obviously the best for the child to "have all the advantages." (2) I had a White friend who adopted a Chinese daughter who (pre-adoption) insisted race was not an issue, but did take her child to Chinese language and culture classes, as well as worked on learning Chinese herself. (3) From talking to Chinese friends, I got the sense that local Chinese (through the Chinese school, which ran weekend culture & language classes) were trying to reach out to the White families who had adopted Chinese children and trying to give the children some sense of Chinese-ness. Um, the friend in point 2 got involved in the classes mentioned in point 3. I don't know how common this is/was or how well it worked.

  46. Another facet to this discussion, is the issue of language and how we define identity. By and large, "acting white" in America applies to the dominant culture. American society chose to name that culture as 'white.'

    I was born to Korean parents who immigrated in '76 and was raised to be American. I identify myself as American, but not as white. I have been called white because of the way I talk, the way I dress, the music and art I am into; however, I see this label as misplaced.

    The dominant culture need not be identified as 'white.'

    In a world where I'm, supposedly, not quite white enough to be American, not quite Korean enough to be Korean, and not Asian enough to be Asian, I choose to denounce all the above and reclaim American.

  47. @ fromthetropics:
    I understand your feelings regarding AA blogs....Im East Indian and was born in the West, but grew up in mostly Asia and the Middle-East (attending pretty American/Euro-centric schools.) I think due to my Western education, I can, on the surface, mesh pretty well with my South Asian-American peers. However, I definitely feel out of sync with the Indian-American (or South Asian-American) experience, in general. Its a weird place to be in, at times (I realize this portion of my comment doesn’t really have anything to do with the post, so I completely understand if you decide not to publish it, macon.)

    Regarding the post, I wish we had some South-Asian adoptee commenters or parents who have adopted kids from the subcontinent.

  48. Drowned Lotuses:
    "Such a loaded topic here, and the focus on Asians in general is interesting yet surprisingly sparsely commented on"

    "Relatively few comments I think because a lot of us have little to contribute"

    My initial impulse is to agree with olderwoman, but here's the thing--go back through previous threads about Asianness and racism against people of Asian descent. Many times someone has made a comment along the lines of Drowned Lotuses'.

    I've been wondering if the lack of commentary reflects a similar tension in (especially white) people's minds to what some of the AA posters here have described: are we at some sort of point where many WP view individual persons of Asian descent as white, but pop culture representations and systemic factors have not arrived at this conclusion?

    This is of course a gloriously insidious form of racism all on its own, in that it prevents us from confronting structural racism against AAs. Also in that it further perpetuates whiteness as the norm to which to aspire, which I think is part of the reason the "honorary white" status idea is so squicky. (Oh, carriebot, I could go on for hours about why that phrase makes me gag as well! It's like giving WP the right to decide who's in The Club. Not to mention totally ignoring the white privilege that people of Asian descent don't have access to and...and...bah).

  49. One more thing on the "honorary" white status of Asians, I think it is intersting that in the late 80's early 90's there was a study that I heard about on the radio, that really suprised me and stuck with me. I don't recall the name of the study thoughI will look for it on the web. I believe it was performed by Harvard or a school of such ilk and one of the well known polling firms. I have no idea how large their sample was and what statistical error there was and of course this was awhile ago, but they were asking different racial groups about their level of comfort with other groups and when given the option of which other racial group they felt most comfortable with, with the choices of white, black, hispanic or Asian *(all of which are broad categories, the last two especially I know, particularly b/c "hispanics" could fall into all 3 of the other categories as well), Asians on average felt closest with whites, however whites on average felt closest to blacks. I never knew what to make of that, except that though Asians get slightly more deferential treatment or in some ways a different kind of acceptance but whites are not as comfortable with Asians as might be imagined. Perhaps it is b/c, despite some early immigrantion by the Chinese in the 19th C, blacks have been here so long that whites are just more "used" to blacks than to others? Of course they may have shifted but I always found this interesting.

    (Not to derail, but on a side note in case your interested in what the other groups said, the study said blacks on average felt closest to Hispanics, and Hispanics on average felt closest to whites).

  50. Macon, you know I only post very rarely, but this one really blew me away. I've also wondered why 'Asian-Americans' (as opposed to the Indian-Americans I know) don't seem to feel 'colored'- the Chin article helped to explain some of the history and why many identify the way they do. As a black American (woman), I don't often learn new things at this blog, but I'm really gonna spend some time reflecting on this one. Thanks.

  51. "In other words, without a distinctive Asian American culture, there really is nothing that holds “Asian America” together as a people."

    This may be unique to me, but even as a 2nd generation Taiwanese-American, I still somehow adopt certain biases from my parents, and in particular, disdain for other East Asians, whether it is the Chinese and their history with Taiwan, or Japan and their history with Taiwan or even just Korea for being totally different.

    I wonder how much of this inter-regional conflict that so describes the tensions amongst East Asians also translates into the AA community, where as far as I remember from high school onwards, AA's tend to congregate amongst those who speak their mother tongue.

    And there lies a problem in how to best create a coherent AA identity, between the Pan-Asian model or retaining regional ethnic uniqueness.

  52. @scally

    If you're really curious, you CAN ask without being offensive. Usually, asian-americans including myself are offended by people who ask the "where are you from" question because the way they ask implies that in their eyes, I'm a foreigner (in spite of my obviously non-accented english). Often times, the people who ask this question do not have a real interest in your heritage but they simply need confirmation of their belief that you are a foreigner, OR, they are simply looking for an excuse to tell you everything they know about asia.

    Like for example, white people who ask this question typically continue with this line of question until they FINALLY find the ancestor that came from China. THEN they immediately ask me when I came to united states. For a lot of these people, the fact that I have chinese ethnicity means I'm from China, which I'm not. In fact, I've never been to china before (though I'd like to go some day).

    Or they'll find out I'm chinese and they'll tell me all about the vacation they took in Japan, as if I should CARE about what they know about Japan. Or they'll find out I'm chinese and start to tell me all about this delicious korean restaurant they go to all the time. Basically, this type of interaction really annoys asian-americans because most of us get it all the time, and yet we are powerless to stop it. We are basically at the mercy of any random white person who wants to use an asian-american as an excuse to talk all about what they know of asian culture.

    In my opinion, if you're genuinely curious, you can ask without offended your roommate. Just ask "hey, may I ask you your ethnicity? I'm just curious" I doubt that'd offend your roommate because it's a non-loaded question that doesn't imply your roommate is a foreigner.

  53. A lot of people here mentioned their long journey in coming to terms with their asian heritage. I went through the same thing. First of all, I was raised in a all white neighborhood and all my friends growing up were white. Luckily for me, I don't recall any of my close friends ostracizing my asianness in any way but I DO remember racist encounters with other people that I did not label as racist at the time.

    The problem with being the ONLY asian in a completely white environment is that you end up being oblivious to yourself. I never "loathed" my ethnicity. But I was not connected with my ethnicity. In fact, there was a HUGE disconnect between the way I felt and the way I look. I know this is going to sound really weird but I never associated my asian appearance with "asian" before. And I honestly did not differentiate between my looks and that of my white friends. I simply failed to attach the correct "label" to our different features. I think it helps that my only visibly "asian" feature is my eyes because other than my eyes, I look mostly like other white kids. And none of my childhood friends asked me about asian culture. For whatever reason, it just never occurred to them to ask and so it never occurred to me that I should THINK about my asian heritage.

    I never believed I was caucasian but at the same time, I did not think of myself as an "other". I simply felt I BELONGED with caucasians and it felt right. I didn't fully understand I was "asian" until high school (though I had inklings of the feeling earlier on but I'll talk about that later).

    In high school, one of the boys in my class made a comment about my asian eyes. It wasn't derogatory but for the first time, I realized that hey, I have "asian eyes". Before he pointed it out, I simply never really thought about it (I also didn't start using makeup until recently so the difference between my eyes vs caucasians was mostly a non-issue).

    Then I started reading up on asian-american topics online and that was how I became more of a rounded person. And now, I am fully comfortable with my asian-american identity. I feel I am a complete person now.

    But I think a LOT of asian-americans go through a "honorary white" stage. SOme of us never grow out of it (unfortunately).

  54. contin:

    I remember in Jr high, I went to visit my younger cousin one summer. My younger cousin was only a few years younger than me and we played together all the time so she would talk to me about things that she'd never talk about with her parents. Anyways, one day that summer, she came home crying because she said a bunch of the neighborhood kids (WHITE kids of course) made fun of her eyes. And then later that night, when I was brushing my teeth, she came into the bathroom and started staring at her reflection. Then she started pulling at her eyelids and she told me she wished she had "normal" eyes.

    I was only in jr high at the time but what she said really sent a chill through me. I remember acting completely calm at the time even though I had very complicated emotions roiling through me. I don't remember what I said in response, but I DO know I tried to tell her something that would comfort her. I don't know if my response was enough to salve her pain.

    Every asian-american goes through a stage where we're made to be ashamed of ourselves (usually our eyes). It is no longer acceptable to make fun of an african-american's skin but it is still perfectly acceptable to make fun of asian people's eyes and the result of it is that you end up with a bunch of asian-americans who believe their normal features are somehow abnormal.

    First of all, asian people have a wide variety of eye-types. So keep this in mind when I start talking about the following:

    today, I like my asian eyes. I think my eyes are large and cat-like and very cute. I think I have one of those anime-girl eyes.

    But I worry about little asian-american children who have narrower eyes with thick eyelids. Their eyes are considered "less acceptable" in white society because it is "too asian". There is nothing wrong with their eyes but I know society will make them feel like freaks. It really worries me because it really does a beating on one's self-perception.

    I feel it is probably EASIER for me to accept my looks because though I am 100% chinese, I have more of the eurasian look and I'm considered by most to be attractive.

    But I worry about perfectly normal people of asian descent who are ostracized for looking "more asian". Is it harder for them to accept their looks because it doesn't fit in as well with the white ideal?

    And by the way, I've met a LOT of asian-americans who seem completely disconnected with their asian-american identity. I've even met asian-americans who think it's no big deal when people say racist things about asian americans. I've also met asian-american women who think it makes complete sense to only date white men (btw, when I was a child, I declared to my mom that I'd only date white guys and to support my belief at the time, I rattled off a ton of racist stereotypes of asian men. Yea, talk about disconnected with my identity. I was really whitewashed.)

    The point is, MOST asian-americans eventually outgrow their faux white identity (thank goodness) but a lot do not (damn).

    The journey to accepting oneself and seeing oneself as a person of asian descent is something most asian-americans have to go through.

    I have a cat who never met another cat until recently. For years, my cat probably through of himself as a human because he didn't have many cat behaviors (except for the use of litterbox). He didn't even know how to groom himself (ridiculous huh?). But after I got another cat, my first cat realized for the first time that he's NOT a human. and from the 2nd cat, he learned a lot about being a cat (he grooms himself now. unfortunately it also means he now hacks up fur balls).

    in a way, my cat's realization of his true identity is something I went through in understanding my asian identity LOL. funny AND sad huh?

  55. Somebody here mentioned how some asian-americans look down on those of asian descent in spite of being asian themselves. I'd like to continue that narrative.

    One of my friends, a white female, works with a vietnamese-american woman in a dry cleaning store. My friend tells me that she often sees white customers interact in a racist manner with her vietnamese-american friend. There will be people who'll call her "oriental" or say other discriminatory things to her face (they live in missouri if that helps). My friend says she used to often feel offended on her vietnamese friend's behalf but surprisingly, her friend said it didn't bother her at all. My white friend says it baffles her how this asian woman handles all the racist customers with seemingly no problem at all.

    What makes the situation even WEIRDER is that this asian-woman is very discriminatory against other asians. For example, if a customer calls and is extremely nitpicky, her vietnamese friend will say "oh no wonder she's like that, she's chinese!" if she finds out the customer has a chinese last name. The thing is, my white friend tells me there are PLENTY of white customers who are a pain in the butt and high maintenance but her vietnamese friend never says anything about them. Her vietnamese friend ONLY blames a customer's annoying behavior on the customer's ethnicity IF the customer is asian.

    And now, I worry my white friend will think asian-american discrimination is no big deal because it seems like asian people themselves don't give a care.

    For the record, I care. I care a lot. And my friend knows I care a lot because I'm constantly telling her about asian-american issues much to her chagrin. I have no doubt I annoy the heck out of her and she probably doesn't read 98% of the emails I send her about the topic. I'm pretty sure she's wondering about WHY I became such an annoying POC when I didn't used to be (we've known each other since before I've accepted my asian-american identity).

    But back to the original story. I'm annoyed but unsurprised by the vietnamese-american woman's reaction to racist whites nor am I surprised she is discriminatory against other asians.

    I think there is such a tendency among asian-americans who are disconnected with their asian identity. Asian-americans who identify MORE with whites will tolerate racism by whites by DENYING it is racist. They will minimize any racist interaction with whites because they feel like they are a part of the white collective (my gosh I make them sound like the Borg LOL). It seems like the vietnamese-american woman feels more kinship with white americans than she does with other non-vietnamese asian americans. And when she puts down other asian-americans, she feels like she's just like the white americans who put HER down. I think putting down other asian people is a way to falsely elevate oneself to the level of white people on the racial hierarchy. When an asian-american puts down other asians, it's their way of saying "see? I don't get those weird little asians either because I'm an american just like you."

    Putting down other asian americans is a way to artificially distance oneself from one's asian identity and to align oneself with the white majority. these kinds of asian-americans simply do not realize that no matter what they do/say, in the eyes of the white majority, they are STILL asian and they are as asian as all the other asian-americans.

  56. Just a thought to throw in the mix... there is a population of Asian people in Russia. Would be interesting to hear from someone from there.

  57. Quick response to Willow, perhaps not needed. I don't see Asians as White nor do I lump people from different Asian ethnicities together. At one point I spent quite a bit of time a significant number of Chinese young people, and am in regular dialogue with Asian kids from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. But I still didn't see that my second-hand memories of my daughter's best friend's feelings or stories students have told me as contributing much to this quite deep sharing people are having about their experiences. I am sure I sound defensive, but it can be hard to let people know you are not ignoring a discussion without derailing it with your own not-very-relevant comments.

    I told the Chinese stories because it interested me that the Chinese people I knew were consciously reaching out to Chinese adoptees and trying to pull them into the Chinese social orbit, and I was wondering if that would resonate with anyone else in the thread.

    I also made a comment relevant to the theme of the original post, about White adoptive parents. But I think the discussion has gone in a different direction.

  58. @Sia – In case you don’t already know ;)

    I think putting down other asian people is a way to falsely elevate oneself to the level of white people on the racial hierarchy. [watote]

    Just to elaborate on watote's point, I think at times the closer you are on that hierarchy to the despised, lower group, the more racist/prejudiced you are towards them because it’s easier for people above you to lump you together with that group. e.g. If an Asian American speaks non-accented English, but also knows an Asian language, they might not want to speak it in front of white people because it’ll make it easier for white people to think that they’re one of those ‘fobs’ (fresh off the boat). But if a white person speaks an Asian language fluently, it’s considered ultra hip. The white person can embrace characteristics of a lower group with less risk of losing their elevated status. The Asian, so to speak, needs to deny those same characteristics to gain an elevated status. (Of course, this works with class too, hence the whole ‘new money’ (metaphorically equivalent to Asian American) and ‘old money’ (white Americans) concept.)

    @Sarah - Thanks for the explanation. You also wrote:
    I am curious to know in which way you look down on asian people and why you think that might be.

    I explained part of it in another post. When I was younger I just thought people were stupid and backwards if they couldn’t speak English. As I got older, this became more sophisticated and appears as a subtle ‘lack of interest’ in those who aren’t Westernized or are unable to relate to Westerners. I still struggle with this at times. I try not to act on it, but I often find myself having to make a conscious effort. To give an illustration, if I walk into a room and see that there are a few Asians and lots of Caucasians (I am leaving other pocs out to keep it simple), I can have a few different responses to the same situation:
    a) [internalized racism] If I don’t know the Caucasians and they seem like the type who aren’t open to other cultures, I might feel intimidated and scan the room for Asians and go talk to them so I can find a comfort zone for myself. Preferably, I’ll find an Asian who is more Westernized than I am, but still understands what it feels like to be poc (i.e. a 'buffer').
    b) If I am comfortable with the Caucasians and in a good mood, but notice that the Asians aren’t feeling as comfortable as I am (perhaps because they’re not Westernized or don’t speak non-accented English), then I’ll go talk to them to make them feel comfortable. Often they will seem very relieved that I’m there to act as their ‘buffer’ - between them and the white world. (Sometimes they’ll even cling to me, and I won’t mind.) If I’m in an ultra good mood, this can be effortless. But sometimes I need to exert some effort as I need to first consciously cross out option (c) to do this.
    c) [racism] If I am comfortable with the Caucasians but perhaps in a selfish mood, I’ll just talk to the Caucasians and feel lazy or lack interest talking to the non-Westernized Asians.
    d) [internalized racism] If I’m perhaps in a self-conscious mood or feel that the other Asians don’t need me as their ‘buffer’ because they’re doing just fine, I might avoid the other Asians lest the Caucasians think we’re self-segregating.
    e) If I'm comfortable and so are the others, I'll just talk to whoever.

    Some of us compute the above and choose one of the strategies within a split second on a regular basis. If you’re white, I’m curious, have you ever had to do this? If so, in what kind of situation?

  59. (cont'd)
    Asians on average felt closest with whites, however whites on average felt closest to blacks… blacks on average felt closest to Hispanics, and Hispanics on average felt closest to whites [LisaMJ]

    So the Asians are the only ones nobody feels close to? This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve known the first half of that statement instinctively for a while now, though I never had proof. It kinda echoes the notion that Asians are perpetual foreigners. They’re not ‘bad’, they’re just kinda ‘weird’ and laughable – that’s the sense I get when I wonder what others think of Asians.

    Drowned Lotuses:
    "Such a loaded topic here, and the focus on Asians in general is interesting yet surprisingly sparsely commented on"

    There’s something about the above and the talk of Asians as honorary whites that feels related and doesn’t sit quite right with me but I can’t quite put my finger on why.

    @all in – thanks for taking us through that process. I have noticed that some of my Westernized Asian friends become more in touch with their ‘heritage’ the older they get. As for the eyes issue – I have very typical Asian eyes. Single fold that turns into a moon shaped line when I laugh. In 8th grade World History class, one of my favorite white teacher asked the class, “What comes to mind when you think of China?” The blond teacher’s pet said, “Slant eyes!” He looked at her and said, “Karen,” with a “that’s not a nice thing to say, but you’re still so cute” look. Karen seemed to understand that it wasn’t too nice a thing to say, but had a cheeky smile on her face. “But it’s true,” she said. I didn’t understand what all that exchange of looks meant as I didn’t understand what she meant. The teacher wrote “slant eye” on the board. After a moment he said, “You know, it’s better if we erase this because it’s not actually a nice phrase,” and erased it. Still confused, I raised my hand and asked, “What does ‘slant eyes’ mean?” I genuinely didn’t know. He explained. It was a not so nice way of describing certain type of eyes. I was dumfounded. “Is that how they see us?” For the first time in my life I realized that people thought my kind of eyes were weird. I liked the teacher and I still get along with him, but I can’t forget that moment of realization.

    I grew up watching my cousins cut cello tape into a thin line and paste it on their single fold eyelids to make it double fold. I tried it too. But wasn’t diligent enough to continue with it. I tried pinching my nose too to make it taller. Didn’t work. In high school a schoolmate had her eyes operated on to make it double fold. She did it over a short one week break and came back to school with swollen eyes. I thought, “How horrid. I’ll never do that.” My first boyfriend (Eurasian/Asian) told me he liked my eyes. I had no idea what he meant. I thought he was being totally silly. Then other guys told me they liked the way I looked. So I thought, “Gosh, I must be missing something here if they see it and I don’t.” Over the years I’ve learnt to love my eyes. I now think they’re cute :)

  60. Interesting article. I wonder about how some parents deal with explaining race and racism to their nonwhite adopted children. The picture of Michelle Malkin is potent. I don't mind conservative, objective and INTELLIGENT perspectives. However, there is something deeply disturbing about that woman.

  61. Im Black, so i'll never get to be a "honorary White person". But why do Asianstry to be a "honaray White person"? You might better previlage, but you are not white. Therefor they will never fully accept you. So what is the point?? Why not just be your self??

  62. Speaking from the POV of a WOC born and raised in the in the US (but not USian, Asian, or adopted), 2 related things:

    1) I honestly wonder if any woman who grows up in America doesn't have a period where they wish, however subconsciously, that they were blonde, pale-skinned, blue-eyed, and/or that particularly European combo of slim/tall/hourglass. Including non-blonde white girls, even. I don't mean that to be flip. I don't know how true it is for men, but as a woman, it just seems (like even now!) that Barbie ideal is so... normalized, that if you're not that, you necessarily go through a period of wanting to be. That's how you're "supposed" to look.

    What's it like for MOC, especially Asian MOC?
    (eg: I know East Asian guys get that whole "short" stereotype, and the crapped-on end of the bookish-vs-athletic stick...)

    2) Seems like a lot of POC (most?) aren't particularly "aware" of their race at first (if not hostile, they're "indifferent"). Which I suppose makes sense... I mean, kids tend to be attentive learners; that's sort of their job. Soaking up implicit social messages (especially when nobody will tell them anything directly) is what they do, 24/7. And there's a lot out there ready to tell you that that people don't judge others by skin color, that racism doesn't exist... but also that default is white, "normal" is white, nonwhite is vaguely inferior, etc. You observe body language, see who gets away with what, etc., and you learn how things are, if not why. So it totally makes sense to me that when you take all that, plus #1, then add in cluelessly white-privileged parents (who aren't going to be doing much to counteract any of those messages)— on top of the slings and arrows of adoption itself— TRAs would be extra-super-ultra slow to consciously identify as POC.

  63. As a foster-to-adoptive parent of a black baby boy, Andrea's comment strikes a chord with me.

    I've chosen foster-to-adopt through the state precisely because I did not feel comfortable with the ethical issues of exchanging money for a child, as she discusses.

    Black children are disproportionately represented in American fostercare (partially due to racism) and since many foster and adoptive parents will not accept black children (again, due to racism), foster parents who are more open are more likely to become parents of black children.

    Being a white mother to a black child makes you understand racism in a whole new way. I had read plenty about racism and I thought I understood my white privilege, but I'm learning more every day and there's still much to learn.

    But comments like riche's where he said:

    "And for a white parent considering adopting a PoC child, that means taking a severe plunge into the world of anti-racist deprogramming before adopting. If this means the vast majority of white people, who are too self-absorbed in their privilege to go through any real learning process, should not adopt non-white babies, then so be it. (Of course, I would also say such people should not adopt white babies or make their own babies either...)"

    I have to wonder what perfect world he imagines exists. As we wait for white people to completely unpack their napsacks, children or color who need homes languish. They need more than love, but their primary need is still love.

    Sometimes anti-racism in the area of parenting/mothering comes across as anti-child. Telling people they have to be perfect in order to parent doesn't really do anyone any good.

    The reality is: transracial adoption (all directions) is a form of integration. Ultimately, it's a good thing.

    You can add "of course they shouldn't adopt white babies or make their own white babies either," but no one is actually standing in their way when they try to do that.

    And when you essentially declare that white parents shouldn't adopt black children, all you're really doing is encouraging white people to avoid transracial adoption by adopting within their race or by having bio children.

  64. @ escalator:

    You are straw-personning riche. NOWHERE did ze say that no WP should adopt children of other races. Ze said only WP willing to go through a little discomfort in order to make their future children's lives better should be parents.

    NO ONE is demanding "perfection." Racial deprogramming is a seemingly endless process even for the most determined of us; we all know that. But the basic awareness necessary to give one's child the mental/emotional stamina and social skills to negotiate a racist society? That doesn't demand "perfection." If someone sets zir own psychological comfort above the physical safety of zir children, ze has no business being a parent.

  65. @Watote
    Thanks for delving further into the problem of "Asian" and what it means...though I wonder what it is exactly that drives some Asians to "side with the whites".

    For some, it may be as you have said, but if we look at the migration of Asians as parts of the majority in their home countries (first generation folks of course), it's hard to completely wrap your head around being the minority and what that means. It's a total 180, no?

    I also notice that when Asians partake in the white supremacy, they forget that all their rights and everything that is possible today is because of collaborative efforts in the past. For the generations born and growing up in the US, "history" also doesn't teach of the connections in the past, the civil rights is largely painted as a "black" phenomenon in the classroom (well, for me that's how it appeared...thoughts?).

    But beating them down doesn't do anything, you gotta talk the logic/rationale of what's going on, but whitie's got the power, and power is corrupting, unfortunately...

  66. @LisaMJ

    I have to say, what you hear on that radio was the first of that type of assertion that I've EVER heard (I'm asian american).

    Of course I don't know if it is true or not. Nor do I think we can qualify how ALL white ppl feel about something.

    This is simply my experience and opinion:
    People typically believe that whites feel more comfortable with asians than blacks because whites and asians intermarry at much higher rates in spite of blacks being in this country for much longer time. In fact, even white people who go to asia will often end up with an asian brides but much rarely a black bride. (US military personnel based in Japan and Korea often marry local women_

    And SUPPOSEDLY, if you believe in the research, blacks in america are MOSt open to intterracial relationships but least likely to be in interracial relationships, this goes doubly true for black women.

    And this is just my experience by the way so I don't know if you can extrapolate anything from it. I've met white people who felt so comfortable with me that they'd let in on their secret racist beliefs about other people, and typically, the belief is about blacks.

    my university;s neighborhood is predominantly black. the student population is predominantly white and asian. And some of my friend friends who seem like fantastic ppl will occasionally scare me when they reveal how they really feel about certain ethnicities. I feel like I got a glimpse of the white world and it's freaky.

    And I've known lots of white people who say they would much rather their kids marry an asian person rather than a black person. (I have a middle-class upbringing so my sampling is probably biased I don't know).

    I'm not saying it is right or wrong or anything else. I'm merely saying the assertion of the radio show is surprising to me because it flies in the face of "research" and "experience".

    One of my childhood friends told me a few years after I moved away that he mom desperately wanted to adopt a chinese baby. I asked her why her mom doesn't just adopt an american kid and my friend told me her mom didn't want to end up with a black baby.

    It's I said, when white people get TOO comfortable with asian people, some of their biases will leak out and it never ceases to shock me.

  67. contin: (the comments section was too darn long)

    And I've met lots of white girls and older women who'll come up to me and compliment me on how asian women all look so beautiful. But a lot of these same women would never think to compliment "black features".

    And in elementary school, when we were studying racism in america (mostly black-white racism issues), they showed a really old black and white video where a reporter was interviewing white americans on how they felt about blacks. In the video (I don't know when the video was made but it was an OOOOOLD video) two young white girls were interviewed about blacks. The girls said they didn't like blacks. Then the interviewer asked the girls what they thought about the chinese people and the girls said they were more willing to accept chinese people. Then the interviewer asked WHY that was and the girls said it was because chinese people looked less different.

    This video can be found in most public libraries I assume. Go look it up.

    I'm not saying this is RIGHT. I'm merely saying the assertion that most whites felt MORE close to blacks is suspicious at least...especially since white people don't hurry across the street when they see an asian man approaching them. ANd white people would much rather adopt an asian baby than a black baby.

    Now i'm really worried I'm going to come off sounding like a racist. I'm really not saying this is right. I'm merely saying this is my experience which makes the assertion that whites feel MOST close to blacks to be suspicious. I'm not saying whites feel closest to asians. I'm merely saying I don't think it's true that the white population in general feels very close to blacks. In my experience, whites like to talk about how there shouldn't be racism against black people but then they get very offended if black people start trying to "invade their domain".

    When I moved to kansas, I was able to pretty quickly make a few friends (yea I was surprised myself). But I have a lot of doubt that white people would readily go up to a black student and make friends. The neighborhood was ENTIRELY white except for 3 asians (including me). And I regularly heard white people (which was basically everybody) say they wouldn't want black people around. that is not to say they embraced me because I'm asian. but that they were MORE able to embrace me because I wasn't black.
    although in the defense of kansans, a lot of the friends I made never even bothered to ask me about my asian heritage.

  68. @ TBC, what part of Kansas do you currently (or used to) reside?

  69. @class of 13

    I don't think Asian-americans created the "honorary white" title ourselves. It was basically foisted upon us, from the time that one politician whose name I forgot called us "model minorities". Actually, arguably before that. If you read articles written about asian people back in the 1800s, what they say about asian people are surprisingly similar to what whites say about asian people today. They say we're hard working, smart, industrious and polite. But they also say we lack ingenuity, we're docile, and servile. So basically, we are minorities that are useful to white society and acceptable in polite society but never quite in the same league as white people.

    Asian-americans are considered "honorary whites" because in general, if a white person had to choose, an asian person is usualy an acceptable alternative to a white person.

    And asian-americans are generally respected by society (when it comes to the academics at least). And society generally has high expectations of asian people. And like white people, an asian person isn't expected to be a criminal, as opposed to the stereotype that all blacks and hispanics are criminals.

    Asian-americans are considered SAFE. We're not like all those "annoying minorities" that's constantly accusing whites of racism or creating a ruckus. We're "good" minorities because we obey the status quo, we contribute to society, and we don't threaten or complain over the position of white people in the racial hierarchy.

    Or so that's what is believed at least.

    I hope someone else can continue to explain the "honorary white" title because I'm too sleepy. it's 1am here.

  70. I'm not surprised. When white parents adopt non-white kids, they're usually not prepared to deal with the racism their children will face. They never experienced what their kids will and how will they explain it to them?

    sad but true

  71. As a black woman, I can tell you first hand the most non white women have had that period in her life she wished she was white. Even today, I truly envy them. Yes, jealous! I know life for the white women isn't much easier than it is for other women, but they get put on a pedestal, while black women aren't even seen as desirable. I've thought about plastic surgery. Make my nose thinner, lips smaller, make my eyes smaller, etc. If I could swap my life with a white woman or even an Asian American women, I WOULD. I'm constantly being reinforced by my own BLACK COMMUNITY that black + woman is no good.

    I hope one day I'll learn to love my "blackness" in a world that hates anything darker than Beyonce :(

  72. @class of 13 - I get the general gist of your point. But this statement is inaccurate:

    Im Black, so i'll never get to be a "honorary White person".

    Some black Americans were considered 'honorary white' in apartheid South Africa. Go figure.

    And black Westerners (Americans, Brits, etc) are often perceived as 'honorary whites' in Asia today. In some places they differentiate between black Westerners and Africans, in other places they don't or can't tell the difference. I was hanging out with a Ugandan girl in an Asian city one time and I was surprised to see how much positive attention she got. People were extra friendly and helpful towards her (while they treated me the way they would any other local - just normal). Did she notice what was going on? No. She seemed oblivious to the better treatment she was experiencing. This is not to say that black people don't experience racism in Asia. They do. But black Westerners can also enjoy 'white privilege' (i.e. Western cultural capital) in Asia at the same time (I suppose it depends on who you meet or where you are).

    Black Westerners can also encounter funny situations where they are referred to by Africans or Aboriginal Australians as 'white' or 'white fella' ('white fellow'). Go figure. (I'm not sure if this means they get better treatment though.)

  73. here here said,
    >> "We're "good" minorities because we obey the status quo, we contribute to society, and we don't threaten or complain over the position of white people in the racial hierarchy.

    Or so that's what is believed at least."

    Ah. This would help explain the resistance I have observed in certain white-dominated feminist groups when Asian-American women identify as women of color. (Has anyone else noticed something similar?)

  74. News flash to willow:

    Plenty of biological parents of children of color ALSO FAIL at providing their kids with "the basic awareness necessary to give one's child the mental/emotional stamina and social skills to negotiate a racist society".

    Your demands on white adoptive parents of children of color are a form of adoptism, which is a preference for biological families and a prejudice against families created through other adoption.

    Merely adopting a child of color, particularly a black child in America, forces the white parent to take "a severe plunge into the world of anti-racist deprogramming" if they wish to be a good parent, which is, by the way, more than "a little discomfort," particularly when people tell you that you shouldn't be allowed to adopt the child you already love because you don't have the same skin color.

    You would never tell a biological parent they shouldn't be allowed to keep their child unless they're skilled at your version of anti-racist techniques; why do you all feel so comfortable telling adoptive parents they can't be parents?

    I'd like to see this entire issue discussed WITHOUT the adoption aspect to suss out what part is purely anti-racist and what part is anti-adoption.

  75. @ applewise,

    Please reread the last line of my post: Ze has no business being a parent. I very purposefully did not say "has no business adopting."

    Was that not clear enough?

  76. This would help explain the resistance I have observed in certain white-dominated feminist groups when Asian-American women identify as women of color.

    Huh? You mean the resistance is there only when Asian American women identify as WOC, as opposed to when any WOC (hispanic, black, etc) identify as woc? I don't get the logic. Are they saying Asian American women don't experience racism?

  77. @TAB

    I'm not clear on what in TBC's comments are anti-black. I think she was just trying to give examples of white people who had expressed anti-black sentiment to her despite her being non-white. TBC repeatedly said that she didn't condone this behavior but that she was reporting on interactions in her experience that indicated that even racist white people would tolerate asians. It seemed to me that she was describing examples of racism, not endorsing them. She even said, "And some of my friend friends who seem like fantastic ppl will occasionally scare me when they reveal how they really feel about certain ethnicities. I feel like I got a glimpse of the white world and it's freaky."

    Can you clarify for me how you perceived these comments?

  78. @TAB. I never SAID that ALL white people felt a certain way. I EXPLICITLY used the term "on AVERAGE", not ALL. I also said it was suprising.

    As for whites sharing anti-black comments around you, I hate to break it to you but I've had white people say anti-Asian things in my presence too. It is what some white people will do. In a way it is human nature I suppose to talk about any outside group with others who aren't from that group even if theyr aren't from the commenters same group themselves.

    I did say that it was an old study, it suprised me but it stuck with me. I also said I had no way of knowing what the statistcal error rate was or how large the sample was but I was just throwing it out there.

    Though you are correct about the dating and adoption rates, I would also point out that though whites are more likely to marry Asians than blacks, and Asians are a much smaller percentage of the overall population, much smaller than blacks, I wonder if/when Asians become say 13% of the population like blacks if that level of acceptance and "honorary whiteness" will change. Besides the POINT of this post is how white racial attitdues and white supremacist values hurt Asian tranracial adoptees so comfort of no comfort Asians are still hurt by white supremacy.

    Also, given the fact that the overwhelming majority of African-Americans have a percentage of white ancestry, and that suprisingly more "white" people have black ancestry than you would think, intermarriage rates aside, I think that says something about the white love/hate relationship with blacks.

    I am still looking to find the study, and one study does not prove something but just b/c YOU haven't heard something doesn't mean it isn't true,and I certainly did not make it up. You do realize that people can marry or date, or have sex with people of another race and still have a certain level of racial animosity towards that group? They may look at their spouse as "special." I've met white folks who I've considered somewhat more racist than the norm and have been suprised to meet their POC spouse. Shoot, look at Thomas Jefferson, he had a black mistress for decades but that didn't stop him from keeping other slaves and writing about the inferiority of blacks (he once compared us to apes).

    After years of thinking about this study, I came to the conclusion that perhaps b/c most blacks in the US are native born and we have been here for as long as white people, though we are disliked, they are very very used to us, and intermarriage aside, Asians are just not as familiar. There are not as many Asians as there are blacks (Asians are what 3-5% of the population?) so there are more white people who have encountered blacks but who have never encountered Asians. There are also probably many white people who have never met a black person who isn't a native born American but have only met Asians who are foreign born. That can do a lot to affect overall comfort levels.

    I'll also say that though at the time it suprised me that "hispanics" felt closest to whites and not to blacks, especially b/c all of the hispanic people I knew as a young person were partially of African descent and hung out with black people but as I've aged, not so much.

    And I'll also add that at the time, I jokingly said to my mother who was with me at the time was that either, these white people were lying or that they really don't like these other folks. I also joked that, maybe they think, well those darkies are bad but they are OUR darkies.

  79. Sorry, meant to say @ TBC, not TAB. Also, I didn't read the rest of TBC's post before I posted but I also wanted to say that it is kind of weird that you refute a study with two random white girls on the news on the street.

  80. Also TBC, though you may have been complimented for your "asian features" and claim black people aren't but why is it that if whites find blacks so ugly why do they get collagen lip implants, why are they so much working on their glutes and using butt implants, and why do so many whites get suntans. These are many things that make them look more like black people.

  81. @the science girl. She did make a comment that seemed to feed into the "black woman as unattractive" meme, like when she said something to the effect that she is regularly complimented for her Asian features by other women or older white womes or something but doubts black women get complimented for their black features or something like that. That rankled and her whole post (which I didn't see until I saw TAB's comments on the other thread) sounded like a "how dare you mention this thing, and blacks are obviously disliked by whites" with all of her ALL CAPS which was not my point at all, I was just pointing out something that I had heard, and I made many caveats, that made me question how "honorary white" Asians are. It is a given that whites have a lot of animosity towards blacks.

  82. @LisaMJ,
    "however whites on average felt closest to blacks. I never knew what to make of that [...Perhaps] whites are just more "used" to blacks than to others?"

    I think that's it. In fact, I think (USian) WP's being "used" to BP directly translates into that habit they tend to have of considering all western BP "American." Annoying if you're neither. But OTOH, in a certain specific way, resentfully or not, we're seen to "belong here." I've definitely felt this, and it's... weird. Complicated. At any rate, the thinking seems to go: "Af-Ams may not be full Americans, but they're definitely fully American." (Feh.) Seems to me even Latin@s don't get quite the same "acceptance" [um, not quite the right word] from WP; witness the neverending anti-Spanish-language thing.

    Anyway, my actual point vis-a-vis Asian-Americans is, this "Af-Ams belong here" thing is pretty much the exact opposite of the tendency to see Asians as "perpetual foreigners" (eg: "where are you from!? no, I mean really" and "your English is so good!"). WP aren't going to feel close to people they refuse to see as "fully American."

    I've never fully understood the perpetual foreigner thing. AAs have been here quite a while. Although... of those 4 groups (lots o' people missing there!), I guess AAs are the most recently-arrived?
    Now that I think of it, maybe there's a language stereotyping component to it? The other choices were black, Hispanic or Asian... only one is firmly associated with English (stereotypically speaking). WP are definitely not comfortable with people who (they think) don't speak English. Gotta have English to be American. Oh, and ESL isn't cutting it.

  83. @LisaMJ, yeah, I see what you mean. It comes across a bit as arguing over who is white folks' biggest pet. I don't know if the comment is suffering from bad intent or just inarticulate wording, but I can understand why it rankled -- especially in the context of your original comment about the radio program.

    I think TAB's point in the other thread is a good one overall on this blog. This is obviously a conversation we've all had before, and I really miss a lot of the black female voices that have been run away from here because they were attacked and no one stood up for them.

  84. @thesciencegirl,
    I had logged off for a few hours and just saw your posts in both threads. I think LisaMJ's responses to TBC and to you hit the nail on the head. In the interest of time and space, I won't repeat her points.

    I know you mentioned TBC's occasional disclaimer but it seemed, to me, to belie the content of her posts. In fact, she says,

    And I've known lots of white people who say they would much rather their kids marry an asian person rather than a black person. (I have a middle-class upbringing so my sampling is probably biased I don't know).

    I'm not saying it is right or wrong or anything else.

    A long, two-post comment rife with anti-black sentiments of "WP" struck me as being at odds with the subject matter of the post, which started out as a discussion of Asian TRAs and the inadvertent damage well-meaning white parents cause them.

    TBC's comments stuck out to me in this thread. The rest of the comments seemed like an exchange of information in which people were trying to understand one another. TBC's posts did not.

  85. @TAB, thanks for answering -- I absolutely understand now where you're coming from.

    As for the line "I'm not saying it is right or wrong or anything else."

    I read it a few times. It wasn't entirely clear if she was referring to the actions of WP or to the research on the radio.

  86. @thesciencegirl,

    I'm not saying whites feel closest to asians. I'm merely saying I don't think it's true that the white population in general feels very close to blacks.

    This, along with a two-post refutation of blacks' desirability, which TBC conflates with "feeling close(st) to," makes me suspect that she was saying the study was wrong, as opposed to reserving judgment about it.

    Thus, "I'm not saying it is right or wrong or anything else[,]" seems attached to the anti-black/white marriage comment preceding it.

    I could be wrong.


    I feel weird about discussing you as if you're not here. If there's a way to ask you for clarification without continuing to derail, great. Otherwise, I'm done with the sidetrack and I look forward to reading further comments about the original topic.

    Sorry about the derail.

  87. Asian Americans are a "house negro" class? That is completely bogus. As someone who grew up in San Francisco, CA, I can tell you that Asians are just the same as Blacks and Latinos. Asians face the same problems with ghettoization, poverty, discrimination and gang violence that plagues other minority populations especially in a place like California. The only difference is that Blacks and Latinos outnumber Asians in America individually and collectively. Also, White people exploited Asian people by erroneously dubbing them as the "model minority" to infuriate Black people during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960's. So following this logic, I guess all Americans should strive emulate the lifestyles of impoverished Cambodian immigrants and Filipino, Chinese and Korean gang bangers?

    Ultimately, America hates Asian people. If I am wrong, then why is America only 4% Asian, but the world as a whole is over 60% Asian? Asians represent such a small minority population because America makes it extremely difficult for Asian people to immigrate here. America only wants the best and brightest educated professional/business oriented Asian people in the States. White people in America would not want to let just any old Asians to immigrate here. All the extremely poor, starving Chinese kids who manufacture your precious Nike sneakers, toys, electronics and clothing are not welcome here in America.

  88. @lisamj

    I had posted twice on accident. I was really sleepy when I first wrote my comment and so it probably wasn't worded as well as I'd like. (i'm STILL really sleepy today) Unfortunately, it was the unedited comment that got posted instead of the edited comment.

    But anyways, I don't see any point in arguing over "who whites feel closest to" because how the heck would I know. I haven't polled every white person in the nation. And I'm well aware there are white people as well as people of other ethnicities who are racist against asians. I think this entire comments section is talking about how race affects asian-american identity (and yes it has veered far away from the original post). I honestly don't care nor know who white people feel "closest to".

    I was merely responding to your post with surprise because it seems to be against common sense TO ME. I fully realize my perspective isn't the reality for other people.

    I've had black people and black friends tell me they think asian-americans move more easily among white society. They tell me that when we hang out together, they perceive white people as feeling more comfortable around me. I don't know if that's TRUE but it's what some black people have told me. They've also told me things like "asian people can walk into a store without being followed" or "asian people don't get pulled over for no reason" or "white people don't expect bad behavior from asian people" or the way men will supposedly hit on asian women over black women.

    In discussing race withs some of the black people that I have met or are friends with, I've heard stuff along the lines of "asian people, like white people, can get away with more things than black people can". I think what they mean by that is that police and security people tend to react more strongly to people who are black even if the "offense" is very minor. I don't know if it is true or even true for some black americans. I HEAR about it but I've never experienced life as a black person. There's an even weirder story that i've heard before about how sometimes white people will avoid touching the hands of black people when handing back change. I don't know if that's true but I've heard of such a rumor before. (or did I read it on a blog, I no longer remember)

    I've experienced racism as an asian person too, but not the same kind of racism that black people say they face all the time. As an asian-aemerican female, the MOST common type of racism I face is fetishism by men of all ethnicity (though most commonly white) and the perpetual foreigner syndrome. Or that sometimes people will treat me in a suspiciously cool way but that happens VERY rarely.

    I can only speak of my own personal experience or of stories that other asian-americans have told me.

    Typically, it SEEMS like a lot, though not all, asian people can socialize pretty well with white society in spite of the discrimination we DO face. And though I understand there is white racism and the racial hierarchy, I generally don't feel uncomfortable when I'm surrounded entirely by white people. I guess it's because I'm used to it (like I said, I was raised in all white neighborhoods). Another reason that I typically feel comfortable among white people because generally, white strangers are pretty friendly with me.

  89. (contin)

    I never really thought about the fact that random white people will usually greet me in a friendly way or say hello to me on the street or smile at me when our eyes meet. I thought that was perfectly normal until I found out that SOME people do NOT get friendly greetings from complete strangers. And people are generally surprisingly friendly even when I'm with a bunch of my older relatives and we're all speaking mandarin. Some of the old (50 yr olds or higher) white people tell me that they think it's perfectly normal that I speak mandarin with my older relatives (my grandma knows maybe 5 english words) because the language issue has been present for all of america's history when it comes to the older generation from the old world the "born here" american children. I'm actually amazingly surprised by this type of "liberal" attitude because this morning, I just heard on the radio that the state I currently live in just declared this month (or was it next month) to be Confederate Month. And my state is somewhat red and still believes in the right to gun ownership LOL (though that's a different issue altogether).

    In conclusion, I really don't want to fight with you over this issue because 1) you're surprisingly offended over my comment and 2)I don't speak for white people. and 3)there really is no way for me to KNOW how "white people" in general feel about any other group of people.

    My response arose out of my personal experience. I've never really thought about it before until recently (when I became more aware of the topic of race beyond the prism of black an white) but it seemed like a lot of my (white) friends were very resistant to including black people into our group of friends. I've never noticed them actively ostracizing anyone of black descent (there weren't that many black people in my high school anyways) but they also didn't make it easy to make friends with black people. Now that I think back. from preschool to most of my high school, the friend with the darkest skin tone I've ever had in my group of friends was a filipino girl. And she joined my group of friends because she happened to move into my neighborhood and we had the same bus stop and so I befriended her and brought her into my "clique".

    Not too long ago, I read an article written by a black professor about something that's happened to him at his university. According to the professor, he went to a party at another department and the employees there treated him unkindly. And when the professor calmly demanded to speak with the supervisor, the supervisor not only did not listen to what the professor was saying but instead had perceived the professor's behavior as "hostile" and "dangerous". needless to say, a small situation escalated into a huge situation where campus police was called. After I read that article, I gave it some serious thought and I realized this sort of thing doesn't usually happen to Asian people. And we can all agree that this sort of thing should not happen to ANYONE.


  90. @mitchmac84
    i'm sorry but I'd rather not answer that because I was the only asian kid in all my classes. If I told you my neighborhood, you'd know which school I went to and then you'd pretty much know who I am by process of elimination.


    I DO understand what you mean. I think what you meant to say was that white people, including feminists, seem to have a resistance to labeling asian-americans as a "minority" even though statistically, we ARE a minority. I think the reason for that is because white people don't feel we face the same social barriers as other "true" minorities, such as african americans. I think there is the belief among americans in general that asian-americans are successful and assimilated which means we must not face any discrimination. That is of course untrue but it is a perception is the same as reality for some people.

  91. @LisaMJ

    I just read your question to me pertaining to WHY white people use plastic surgery to attain "black features"

    In response, I honestly don't know the "racial" reasonings behind it. If you REALLY wanted to force an answer out of me, I'd probably use human evolution of sexual markers to support my answer because my educational background is in biological science.

    I'm personally unsure if plastic surgery by ANY ethnicity has much to do with a desire to become another race. I'm one of the (few??) who believes plastic surgery is generally used to attain "beauty" but not necessarily to change one's ethnicity. How is "beauty" determined is...well a complicated topic in itself. There are lots of argument against my perspective but I won't go into it here unless people here really want me to.

    I think the reason whites plump their lips is because the lips are SUPPOSEDLY a type of sexual signal to males. When humans became bipedal, females were no longer able to signal their sexual arousal in the same way as other primates(who could desplay engorged sex organ). And so human females use plump lips, which surprisingly resembles the vagina, and red colored lips signals more arousal than say pale colored lips (which is why women supposedly use lipstick)

    as for the round butt, I think it is a signal of health. round butt, nice hip to waist ratio, supposedly advertises a woman's fertility. and a man's attraction to a woman has to do with her fertility even though the man may not necessarily WANT children (that is why young women are more desired than old women because young women are more fertile).

    oh by the way, I was not using the video of the two white girls to refute the study that you had heard on the radio. I was merely pointing out that two different "studies" came up with radically different conclusions, and so there is really no way for us to draw a conclusion from either of them. Unless there is a comprehensive series of studies and then a meta-research, how are we supposed to know if any research has representative data? Besides, it is more likely than not especially hard to ascertain how someone actually feels about anything using surveys because people LIE ons surveys ALL THE TIME.

    The best way to acertain bias is through unconcious association test that was used by a harvard study group. In this particular test, whites and blacks were presented with pictures of white and black people and by the speed and response behavior of the participants, the computer was able to determine the test taker's racial biases. Sorry, I don't remember the details of this test but you could probably find it in psych journals. POSSIBLY pubmed (but the article might not be free).

  92. @Bonus!

    I'm not going to dispute what you said about asians in California because I've never lived in CA. I HAVE visited though.

    But I AM going to comment on your comment about immigration. First of all, there are so few asian-americans in today's american population because historically, asians have been barred from immigrating to this country. When slavery was abolished, america needed a new "slave" class without actually using "slavery" and so the US government actively courted Chinese people. Then when Chinese people actually showed up, americans became worried that asians were going to overrun the country, so they made it easy for asians to work but impossible for asians to take root in this country. THEN the anti-asian sentiment rose to the point where the chinese exclusion act was enacted, and it wasn't repealed until sometime around WW2 if memory serves me right, and even then, each year, only a TINY number of chinese people were allowed to immigrate here.

    As for your comment about America only letting "the best and brightest" move here, I don't see your point. It's completely natural that america, as well as every other country in the world, would prefer to have the best and brightest immigrants. Every country loathes brain drain but nobody minds GAINING educated citizens.

    I can tell by your comment that you're angry. I'm not going to critize your anger because I'm sure there is a reason for it. But I WILL say it is unhealthy to be angry like this. Every once in a while, I'll encounter one of those TRUly angry asian people online (rather than the humorous kind of "angry asian" people). Typically, the angry asian is a man. I THINK it is because asian men are systematically emasculated by society and so for some, angry is a natural response. I have to say I disagree with your assertion that asians are somehow an underclass though I know there are lots of poor asian-americans who need assistance. It is simply untrue that ALL asians do well and that ALL asians are well off. But I don't really think this supports the "underclass" argument because there are poor whites too. And although all non-whites and non-male people in america face discrimination of one kind or another, I still believe that hard work can overcome A LOT. Look at barack obama. he succeeded didn't he?

    And I don't really think it is exclusively american or even all that unusual that america doesn't want uneducated immigrants. That's true for ALL immigrants, not just for asians.
    America has pretty much moved away from the early economic model of "manufacturing" where a population of factory workers are necessary. America prefers white collar industries. And besides, manufacturing in america is incredibly non-cost effective, for better or worse. And if we simply use hoards of poorly paid immigrants, it'd be a whole new form of slavery (some would argue this system already exists). The reason there is "outsourcing" is precisely because america isn't going to support uneducated immigrants to work in factories. if they're going to pay people low wages for factory work, they'd rather have it done in another country.

  93. @Ann

    I hope you're still around to see my comment.

    What you wrote really made me sad. Women have always received the short end of the stick so to speak when it comes to the fact that our acceptance by society is often based on our perceived attractiveness. The fact that the current model of attractiveness completely excludes nonwhites,ESPECIALLY african-american women, is a serious problem that hurts the dignity of so many people.

    I've read articles/comments about how black women are supposedly treated by their own community as well as the larger society. I have no solution to that problem. All I can say is that I sympathize and I hope one day, you'll accept yourself for who you are. I personally don't feel you have to learn to love your "blackness" because what does that mean? Are you talking about your skin tone, or your facial features or your physique? Rather than "loving your blackness" what don't you work towards loving yourself as an individual? I'm sure you don't look like all the other black women right? You look like you and being black is just one part of your identity.

    For women to learn to accept themselves is hard, especially minority women in america. I really wish there was something I could say to make you feel differently or to change the world but I simply don't have that power.

    I'm a straight female and I've never met you before but I'm sure that if I HAD met you, there would be something about you that I'd find beautiful. And since women have a tendency to be overcritical of our own looks, I'm sure you're way more attractive than you realize. And more likely than not, there are plenty of other women of all ethnicties who are envious of YOU for some reason.

    That said, I've known plenty of white women who are also incredibly unhappy with their own looks. I know it is probably harder for black women but just keep in mind that you're not the only one who is struggling with society's standard of beauty.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is, if society won't cherish you, you must cherish yourself. You deserve to be love and respected and I have no doubt that you're beautiful. *HUUUUG*

  94. [TCB, regarding your last two (unpublished) comments, see numbers 4 and 9 in the commenting guidelines. ~macon]

  95. @Bogus! & TBC
    I don't find the anger counterproductive at all. Indeed, it was anger that drives us to make the changes that we so desparately need, so channel your anger into something productive and it's all good.

    I feel that you haven't thought about your comments regarding class and what is "natural" in wanting the "best and the brightest" because I've met some of the "best and the brightest" and can tell you that they sometimes ain't that bright, and certainly ain't the bestest.

    Beauty is so interesting. I remember not too distantly in the past I thought that whites as more beautiful was just a "preference" issue, but when you really look at it, it's not oh so hard to deprogram ourselves to some salvageable extent. Though at the same time, I certainly have never wished I was white. I would take my Chinese self any day over a clueless white body. I appreciate the WP allies of course, but I def do not feel comfy around an all white crowd, it's creepy (but this doesn't mean I can't do it either, we all can "take it").

  96. @ fromthetropics,

    >> "You mean the resistance is there only when Asian American women identify as WOC, as opposed to when any WOC (hispanic, black, etc) identify as woc? I don't get the logic."

    Yeah, that's pretty much it, and it confuses me as well. Building off of what here here and other posters on this thread have said, I'm starting to suspect that it's a case of WP considering people of Asian-descent "safe"--WP assuming that the Asians are happy to be complicit in upholding white supremacy, and reacting somewhat rudely when they find out this is not the case.

    @ TBC,

    Seriously? Ann shares something personal and painful, and your advice to zir is to keep in mind that WW have problems, too? I know you said a bunch of other stuff as well, but please reflect on why you felt the need to include that at all.

  97. @TBC

    "I personally don't feel you have to learn to love your "blackness" because what does that mean? Are you talking about your skin tone, or your facial features or your physique? Rather than "loving your blackness" what don't you work towards loving yourself as an individual?"

    this really, really bothered me. especially because i felt like Ann many years ago. i can't speak to exactly why Ann feels the way she does, but my past hatred of my own physical attributes--my hair, my nose, my shape--were inextricably linked to my pain at living as a PoC every day for 9 years in an unforgivingly cruel white town.

    so please, TBC. don't brush off Ann's struggle with some simple feel-good sentiments, feigned ignorance about what she's talking about, and some internet HUUUUGS. it's really disrespectful.

    and really, your attempts to separate black women by saying the following speaks volumes:

    "I'm sure you don't look like all the other black women right? You look like you and being black is just one part of your identity."

    i need a drink.

  98. To all the ppl who thought I was minimizing Ann's feelings with my comments, I apologize. I was simply trying to comfort her to the best of my ability. I was not trying to minimize her feelings by pointing out white women also have body image issues. I think her feelings are important. Just because I pointed out that self-image issues is a problem that all women have doesn't mean I think Ann's feelings are less important somehow. I ALSO said repeatedly that it is harder on black women because most black women are farther away from the beauty standards upheld in today's society. I never once disputed the impact that society's standards has on Ann's self perception nor did I ever say Ann's feelings were wrong in any way. I fully understand why she felt badly about myself. I simply felt bad that she felt bad and so tried to comfort her in my own (clumsy?) way.

    I think if you re-read my comment, you'd realize I only made ONE passing comment about white women (and perhaps I should have left that out) while at the same time, repeatedly affirmed her feelings by agreeing that yes, society's beauty standard is impossible for most black women to achieve. The main reason I mentioned that white women also felt bad about themselves (including women of other ethnicities) is because an earlier poster mentioned how s/he is surprised if ANY woman in america DOESN'T have some sort of image issue with themselves since even most white americans do not fit into the blond-haired blue-eyed ideal.

    Back to the original critique of my insensitivity to Ann, I can only apologize. I did not perceive my comment as insensitive (if I did I wouldn't have posted it) because I thought I was comforting her in the way I best know how.

    And to the person who thought my internet hug was ridiculous, well, that's your opinion. I won't apologize for that because I do internet hugs ALL the time. I was not mocking Ann with my internet hug. When i chat/email friends online, we often send internet hugs back and forth. It's a complete surprise to me that some people find this offensive because....I would like to give Ann a hug, but I can't magically appear in front of her, and so I sent her an internet hug. Because the topic of this blog is pretty serious, I even courteously refrained from using emoticons and such things (which I ALSO often use when I chat with friends online).

  99. TBC,

    I think it's not the hug itself, but rather what you said before the hug.

    Also, I have some more suggested reading for you.

  100. I suppose it is a result of a cultural difference. I find internet hugs a perfectly acceptable way to convey my feelings while others don't. But it is illogical to somehow find an internet hug to be INSULTING. Don't you think that's going a bit much?

    Ann, I apologize if I hurt your feelings. it was not my intention. I'm frankly surprised multiple people find my comment to be insensitive because in my opinion, if you are currently feeling bad, and there is nothing anyone can do to immediately change society's perception and ideals, the only thing we can do is comfort each other the best we can.


    I was not trying to "separate" black women or break up black women's solidarity. I was merely pointing out everyone is an individual. I thought my comment that Ann is an individual is a valid comment because as an asian american woman, one of our biggest problem with society is that we're seen as ONE kind of women. There are asian fetishists out there who desperately want an asian girlfriend and he doesn't even care about her as a person. Asian fetishists only want an asian woman, any will do, and he doesn't even care to differentiate the different ethnicities of asians. It is because I know as an asian woman how it feels to be lumped together as being exactly the same as all other asian women that I made my comment about Ann being an individual. I suppose our difference in perception is a result of our different experiences. Asian-american women find being seen as a clone of all other asian women to be really annoying and so we're always stressing our individualism. If my comment to Ann about her being an individual rather than someone who is like all the other black women is perceived as an insult to black women in general, I apologize.

    I feel like I'm constantly apologizing for things I didn't even say. I don't know if this is a result of people reading my comments differently than I intended or if it is because my comment was poorly constructed.

    And no, I was not "feigning ignorance". I DO know how it feels to feel like you don't measure up to other people in terms of looks. I no longer feel that way but as an asian person, I was once made to feel unusual because of my eyes. Today, I'm totally comfortable with my eyes. But I think we can all agree that my eyes will never be the standard ideal in america. I may not have experienced how a black woman in america is made to feel about her own looks but I'm trying my best to sympathize. I'm sorry my attempt sympathize and offer comfort has offended people. I guess I stepped on a land mine. I'm just not going to say anything else about this because apparently I can't judge whether something is offensive or not.

    Once again, Ann, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I don't think you yourself has commented on my comment yet. But please understand I did not intend to minimize your feelings in any way. As for the people who HAVE commented, I'm sorry to you guys too. I had no idea my well-intentioned comment is lacking in sensitivity to black women. The way I tried to comfort Ann is the same way I try to comfort white and asian-americans I know when they are upset. Because this type of comforting words has always worked before, it never occurred to me that black women might not appreciate my sentiment (somebody mentioned it was simply a "feel good" comment). I now realize I need to use a different method when I want to comfort black women on such a sensitive issue. But in all honesty, I think I should just keep my mouth shut because I don't even know how to comfort without offending people unintentionally. Maybe somebody should explain what I should've said.

  101. I guess I'm even more white (inside) than I realize. Even when I talk with other POC, I come off as an "ignorant white person" even though I'm not white.

    Believe it or not, Macon D, I already read the article you just linked. Which is why once again, I have to say, I'm surprisingly white. Even whiter in my perspective than I realize.

    I guess this goes back to the original topic of this article, which is how TRA kids lose connection with their heritage, and that asian-americans to an extent all share the same kind of identity issue as TRA.

    I may not be TRA, but I'm an asian-american raised among white people. Even when I THINK I'm being sensitive, I apparently display more "white people" tendency than I realize.

    Good thing I discovered this blog.

  102. @TBC, can I make a friendly suggestion? Looking at the number and length of your comments, as well as the fact that you continue to offend people without apparently meaning to, maybe this would be a good time to stop and think and listen and not just say everything you're thinking. I feel like you've turned your filter off and aren't fully thinking before typing. Take a deep breath and take a step back.

  103. "If a white person participates in anti-racism discussions long enough and seriously enough, ze will mess up eventually.* We are all products of a racist society. And when that happens, we need to apologize to the person or people we hurt.

    White people tend to be very, very bad at this."

    And maybe some asian-americans are also very bad at this too due to our mostly caucasian surrounding.

    I think this issue leads back to the original discussion of the "whitewashing" of the asian-american identity. Maybe the reason that asian-americans typically feel comfortable around white people and white people typically feel comfortable around asian people is because
    1) White people feel asian-americans aren't one of those "annoyingly overly sensitive" minorities.
    2) A lot of asian-americans are NOT "overly sensitive" because a lot of our perspective is so "white" that we don't even realize when we're being insensitive to non-asian POC. I've noticed that asian-americans typically don't call out white americans when white americans say something biased because we ourselves do not realize the comment is biased. I think it really is a result of being raised as an isolated minority among white people. you end up accepting the white world perspective as NORMAL and so you end up being as capable as most white people when it comes to other POC (which apparently isn't very capable). And in addition, like many white people, we typically don't perceive racism unless it's OBVIOUS, like if someone calls us the C word or an oriental. or if some guy acts obviously creepy or insulting.

  104. @thesciencegirl

    Believe it or not. I read this blog all the time but I never comment precisely because I don't want to accidentally offend anyone (it's not like I "turned off my filter" for fun). THIS is the exception because I thought since the topic was originally on TRA losing their asian identity and feeling like white people, I thought I'd add my 2 cent on how even non TRA asian-americans go through comparable experiences.

    I HAVE read material on how race affects other minority americans because until recently, the majority of the talk about race is framed within the black and white people context. And before now, i THOUGHT I understood. I'm just not going to comment on anything but asian-american issues from now on. (And asian-american issues WAS what I wanted to talk about in the first place).

    Before I sign off for good, I just want to comment how it is interesting that I feel even MORE white than before (and this isn't a good thing). Like the ever-annoying "anti-racist white liberal" I MEAN to defend POC when I'm not actually doing that. And as a result, I'm now afraid to say anything about race for fear of offending people. I jsut find this to be an interesting sentiment. Obviously i'm not white, nor will I ever have white privilege. And yet I feel the same way a (typical) white person would in this situation. Interesting. and weird. and sad.

    Well good bye for good.

  105. The TBC tangent came and went and ended so fast. But I'll add my two cents anyway.

    Thanks for pointing it out TAB. When I first read it, I didn't really like it for a different reason - it felt sort of 'anti-Asianish'. Because I felt as though TBC didn't want to acknowledge the perpetual foreigner stereotype at work in the results of the study mentioned by LisaMJ. (I think English language ability of the first generation migrants has a something to do with it too, but I won't get into that here.) So I decided to ignore it, and didn't notice the 'anti-blackish' aspect.

    @TBC - You wrote so much that I can't quote everything, so I'll just refer to your comments in a general way. I'm glad that you realize you sound like a well-intentioned white liberal. Firstly, if you thought the study was doubtful, that's fine. But I really don't think it's our place as Asians to go around listing in detail all the ugly stereotypes we've heard white people say about black people. e.g. If a white friend wanted to alert me that racism towards Asians exist and that I shouldn't be naive about it because s/he's been privy to the inside talk. Fine. But I'd rather not hear all the details, and I'd also like to know that s/he actually said something on my behalf even in my absence to the ones spouting out racist stuff. If s/he didn't, then seriously, I'd rather they kept it to themselves. Your comments can come across as, "Oh my gosh, do you know how much they hate you?" It seems as though you were sharing valuable information, but you weren't. Hence, what you did was inappropriate whatever the intention.

    Secondly, the whole thing about black women and beauty standards - it started to sound patronizing after awhile. Almost like when white people say to me, "Oh, you have beautiful Oriental eyes. You should embrace yourself...I love Asian culture and food." Not quite, but sort of. And the hugs thing - well, given all that came before it, and given that as Asians we don't fully understand what Black women go through, it came across as a bit flippant.

    And I understand what you mean by your last paragraph about feeling white. It certainly feels weird and sad and interesting. It's a learning moment, I suppose.

  106. If I remember it right, the term "honorary white" was coined by anthropologist Aihwa Ong. It refers to Asians who feel that they are white as if their economic status and/or their professions "whitened" them. It is not something that a politically conscious Asian would call him/herself with. It is internalized racism, just like the "banana" for white-washed Asians, "coconuts" for blacks, or even "WASP" for some whites.

  107. jszh:

    Just to add one comment on the Vietnamese woman's reaction to her Chinese client. It might be some stereotyping or racism irrelevant to the white. Vietnam was somehow under China's "influence" for thousands of years (kind of old imperialism) and fought for thousands of years. So a Vietnamese person may make such comments on a Chinese in Vietnam. I heard that many Chinese immigrants in Vietenam are pretty off-well but can never get their hands on politics. So that case needs a closer look.

  108. So the Asians are the only ones nobody feels close to? This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve known the first half of that statement instinctively for a while now, though I never had proof. It kinda echoes the notion that Asians are perpetual foreigners. They’re not ‘bad’, they’re just kinda ‘weird’ and laughable – that’s the sense I get when I wonder what others think of Asians.

    Well, it's not always due to the perception of Asians as the "perpetual foreigner." Sometimes, it's mistrust of Asians due to what so many of you all have described here, so many Asians affiliation with and trying to be included in Whiteness.

    My experience with Asians online has been a bit different than in the 3-D world. What I've witnessed are Asians of various ethnicities who seemed fine with how White folks' treated them for good or ill and wondering, often out loud, why we pesky Black folks kept needling Whites about "racism." If we'd just get off our lazy, criminial, nigger asses and worked hard like they do, we'd not only have a better life but White folks' "esteem," like they do, basically buying into the "model minority" myth.

    And then there was the blatant pulling away from Black people and clinging to Whites I witnessed. There was a Malaysian woman in a race and ethnicity class I took. She told me that the White students told her to stay away from Black people because we're obviously all criminals and low-lifes. Well, I told her that guess what? White folks talked shit about Asians too and told her some of the stuff they'd repeated about them to me and other Black folks. "The difference is, that most Black folks don't fool themselves into thinking that White folks ain't off talking shit about us while they're regaling us with their knowledge on you."

    She stayed underneath White folks' armpit that whole semester in class. That's been 98% of my experience in 3-D with Asian folks. For all the talk of PoC solidarity I read online I rarely see it from Asians towards Black folk in real life. I, and many other Blacks, just treat Asians as "other White folks." No, it's not meant to be a compliment.

    Basically, I don't need to deal with yet another group willing to throw my Black ass under the bus or use my back as a stepping stone to assimilation.

  109. "I'm sure you don't look like all the other black women right? You look like you and being black is just one part of your identity."

    i need a drink.

    I'll pour because that ish made my eye twitch.

    "Surely you don't look as niggerish as the other BW around you! Surely you have SOME non-Black feature I can find attractive even as I gag at the rest of you!"

    Lawd, I see the bullshitnanigans have not ended here.

  110. Anyone notice how all these stories of self-hatred usually involve Asian women?

    If white people saw Asian men as white, then white women would be willing to date Asian men, and I know for a fact that aint true.

    Asians arn't an underclass? Data showing Asians make more are all household data which is misleading because Asian households usually have more income-earners. Also, you need to adjust for geographical differences since Asians tend to live in higher income-higher cost of living areas. Finally, even though Asians are more likely to have college degrees, the average Asian professional only makes 54% of what the average white professional makes. Got that last statistic from a speech by Tim Wise.

    Don't dismiss our anger. Condescend much?

  111. oh yea, and dont dismiss what we have to go through by claiming were being over emotional, which is exactly what you were doing.

  112. I just want to say that on the contrary to what TBC said about Asians being white, this is not true, and I've met many "Asians" that do NOT feel that way.

    Also, as a Chinese person, I also dealt with issues of self-image/esteem when growing up because of the racist society in which we ALL live.

    I totally feel your sentiments about "Asians", but at the same time, I feel that there's a lack of communication between minority groups that leads to misunderstandings of our different experiences shaping us. As I've posted before, Asian (just like black) is something forced upon a group by white supremacist society.

    You'll find those Asians out there that are totally on the same wavelength, and that are ready to be angry with you. But they just might not show it to you because of similar reasons of mistrust. Just as you are hesitant of what "loyalty" you can expect from a "white-washed" Asian, they might also be wary of what to expect from some person they just met. Which leads me to wonder about so called "cultural" factors playing into it all... or maybe it's classism at hand as well...

  113. I hear ya witchsistah (and thanks for the explanation). And Drowned Lotuses too. Trying to work with similarities/similar interests seems harder than it sounds eh.

    Speaking of the 'model minority' myth, have you read this? There's an academic version similar to abagond's argument. "Variable in minority school performance: a problem in search of an explanation" by John U. Ogbu. If anyone is interested, I can send it to you as pdf if you email me: fromthetropics [at] gmail [dot] com

    It tries to explain why 'model minorities' succeed financially as a group while others don't by looking at the reasons why they're in that country in the first place - did they come voluntarily or were they forcibly uprooted?

    @someone - I don't follow what you're saying about Asian men and women. Would you mind explaining? And who's calling who over emotional? I'm a little confused.

    @jszh - I think the term "honorary white" existed before Aihwa Ong started using it and was probably coined in relation to apartheid South Africa and applied mainly to the Japanese (probably for economic reasons). And <a href=" this book surprisingly suggests that the term originated in Japan.

  114. fromthetropics,

    This is slightly off-topic, but when discussing AAs and immigration in one of my classes, we talked about how people invested in the model minority myth don't take into account different immigration trajectories, i.e., refugee vs. international student vs. middle-class (in the native country) immigrant. It also negates the "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" meme, but that's another topic.


  115. You'll find those Asians out there that are totally on the same wavelength, and that are ready to be angry with you. But they just might not show it to you because of similar reasons of mistrust. Just as you are hesitant of what "loyalty" you can expect from a "white-washed" Asian, they might also be wary of what to expect from some person they just met. Which leads me to wonder about so called "cultural" factors playing into it all... or maybe it's classism at hand as well...

    I wasn't trying to strike up a "let's storm the barricades together and foment revolution" relationship with the chick. I was trying to perhaps strike up a "hey, since we're in a class on race let's try and strike up conversations between PoC for a change. Will you at least give me a chance at an acquaintance?" intro. Since I didn't have Whiteness or White privilege for her to access and exploit, and I was covered in the icky Negro on top of it, she decided that I had nothing to offer.

    You mentioned culture and I see it in part as how different races deem what is "correct" behavior vis a vis dealing with White people. Blacks may find Asians too accomodating and acquiescent. Asians may find Blacks to confrontational and strident. It doesn't help that the racial struggle most often highlighted in America is that of Blacks against Whites. It sets up a rubrik as though that is somehow the only correct way to react to White supremacy. And it sets up Blacks as the arbiters of political correctness amongst PoC, as the Head Darkies in Charge, as it were.

    Still, it doesn't help to hear complaints from Asian women about how White men fetishize them and then have said AW turn right around and select yet another WM as a partner. Especially when a BW hearing this may be lamenting her dating years wasting away without any decent prospects or offers of dinner or drinks, let alone a relationship. It's like having someone complain to you about how they've always wanted a silver Mercedes but only seem to be able to land Audis, BMWs and even a few Chevys and Fords while your ass is struggling on the bus everyday or worse, walking.

    Same with Asian men complaining about how non-Asian women aren't attracted to them when they really mean WHITE women aren't attracted to them. I know when many BW claim to be for dating interracially they mean dating WM by default. However, I've met many BW open to IR dating who are open to dating ANY eligible non-BM, including AM. I've even met plenty who expressed preferences for non-BMoC BEFORE WM (or excluding WM altogether) for their IR dating choices. I've encountered exactly ONE AM who expressed an interest in dating BW in my whole life.

    It's ish like this which has me and many other Blacks, especially BW questioning the whole PoC "solidarity" thing. And I've been questioning it more and more as I've gotten older. And more and more BW have as well, especially since this latest instance of MSM "Black women ain't shit" reports and articles have come out.

  116. @witchsistah
    You got my culture reference! :-)

    I'm not trying to say that you were wrong in dealing with that girl, or that you are misled into thinking that there is no true solidarity, but it's not safe out there to complain about WP as you know. So it's also hard to know who will be able to really listen and understand. But as you fairly stated, the dating thing with POCs is rather messed up.

    And as much as I would like to say otherwise, Asian folks can be disappointing, but as an "Asian", I'm doing what I can to try to help others "get the picture" (though to be fair, I'm sure mine is messed up and screwy in ways I can't see yet), at the very least by explaining that "white ain't always right". And as others have pointed out, generationally and locationally it's very different as well. I went to high school in a mainly black and latin@ neighborhood, and I got the "ching chong" rap all the time, bothered the hell out of me. But I've come to understand more of what's going on, and hope that others can as well.

  117. Thanks witchsistah for the insightful and honest comment.

    Btw, I wonder if there are also generational differences among migrant responses to racism. I read a study by a Japanese about Japanese American demands for reparation for the internment camp issue. I can't remember exactly, but s/he found that the first generation migrants thought along the lines of, "Oh, it's over now. Let's just forget it and move on." Second generation: "It was wrong, we are American citizens, and so they should apologize/pay reparations (I can't remember which but either way they were slightly more demanding)." Third generation: "It was totally wrong, it should never have happened. [Insert demand that is much stronger than what the other generations asked for.]" I can't remember what the demands were, but with each generation, the sense that, 'we belong here and have every right to be treated the same' got stronger.

    And looking around (IRL), it seems as though the first generation who aren't happy with racism tend to work with the system but in a way that doesn't fully undermine their dignity - i.e. play along on the surface, but once the white guy is gone, they'll say stuff like, "Those whites, what do they know? Look at them, they don't even notice we're just playing along and don't really mean it." And then choose not to socialize with mainstream society. The idea being, "We came here to find a better life than the one we left, not to assimilate and become white." While second generation are perhaps more prone to internalizing the racism since they actually have to go to school and socialize with mainstream society. But they also get indoctrinated about citizenship rights, so they find it more difficult to reconcile the rhetoric with reality. Hence more willing to demand equality. And this probably gets stronger with the next generation.

    I wonder if the fact that there are more relative newcomers among Asians compared to Blacks is part of the reason why they/we seem to respond differently, generally speaking?

  118. Wow. Chin's article explains a lot!

    At my high school, we always wondered what was WRONG with this Korean adoptee. The black students felt that she wanted so desperately to be white. Even the white students felt that she was strange and were uncomfortable around her. Everone was proud of their ethnic background except for her. Even Italian-Americans rejected the label of white!

    In college, I had to take an Asian-Am. course. The half Asian half White professor would say American (and "American as apple pie") and mean white. I just sat there and thought "Am I taking crazy pills?" The course was completely different from an Af.-Am. course. In Af.-Am. courses all we talked about was resistance (Civil Rights, etc.) I even took a South Asian course. The South Asian professor had a clue.

    In the As.-Am. course, we learned about how Asian-Ams. eagerly accepted and even perpetuated notions of white supremacy. She also encouraged a Korean adoptee to identify as white. I remember this woman telling us she was W.A.S.P. and the professor nodding in agreement. I turned away. I was EMBARRASSED that I had stayed in the class

  119. I am Asian Guy. Vietnamese. I grew up in the Mid-West. I was never concerned about race until it was thrust on my white racists. I have never consider myself a part of the white power structure or part of the whole model minority bullshit, even though I do have a graduate degree. The model minority should like a category for a pet god.

    America hates Asian, especially Asian men. The white power structure have perfected a way to divide community, because they have been using the same formula for the last 500 years. They divide community by creating religious tensions, ethnic tensions, and finally, favoritism (gender and ethnicity). White used to rape Native American women to shame them so it would divide their community. They would favor on African tribe over another usually with bordering trbe.

    White power structures used the media to tell paint Asian people as the model minority to pit them against blacks and hispanics. They put Asian women only with white men screen, to make Asian men jealousy, so Asian men would blame Asian women and divide community.

    That is why so many jokes against Asian are acceptable. So the kids will be ashamed of their looks and distant themselve from the community thereby decrease its chances from group into a cohesive group to challenge the power structure.

    I can only hope that all non-whites in the world see this systems that was created by white supremacy. I often wonder why Asian in Asia show so much deference to whites and have them on billboards in Asia, when in American white people hate Asians. I am ashamed at some Asian people behavior in not see how they are self-destructing by accepting this racist white power structure in the world.

  120. There actually is a way of life, a culture, known as Asian America. Within it, there are such tribes as Chinese America, Nikkei America, Happa America, & so forth. The fact that those who inhabit this culture refuse to acknowledge & affirm their own existence as a unique & distinct people does not detract from the reality of that way of being. See essays & books by Frank Chin (rf. his blog), B. R. Tong (, the films of Curtis Choy (, etc., etc.

  121. I'm a TRA of the southern white culture. Not only did I deal with the whole adoption thing, but being a "military brat", being the sole Asian kid in a climate that was open about White supremacy, being a child of a severely dysfunctional family b/c both of my parents were alcoholics, and being the victim of various forms of abuse as a child within my family structure. I never once felt like I truly belonged; mine was a history of pretending everything was ok; it was ok to pretend I was white in order to make those around me feel comfortable. Instinctively I knew it was wrong to judge people based on skin color and one of my most horrific memories was when my dad literally marched to school to lambaste them about why they were teaching filth[MLKJr] to his kid. I wanted to disappear forever.


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