As a mother to two Asian children I’ve been asked to make a statement or help educate on the subject of racism toward the Asian community. As a white woman, raised in a white bubble, I am still in the process of my own anti-racist education (and I will be for the rest of my life). I don’t feel comfortable speaking for the Asian community and I’m not attempting to do that. In fact, one of the reasons I’ve been posting less about adoption recently is that I’m trying to hand the mike back to Asian adoptees. 99% of the time, I feel that I have so much to learn myself, I’m not trying to pose as an educator when I am still very much a student. With that said, this post is written for my main audience- which is fellow white women (although everyone is welcome to read it) and it’s sharing my personal experiences and observations with racism toward Asian people.
I was raised, as many white people are, with the idea that racism is mostly in the past and that most people are good and that we do our best to be kind humans that is enough. And although I still see some merit to that last part, I now have a different/fuller perspective that I’d like to share.
When we started our first adoption from China I was immediately shocked by the blatant racist things other white people would say to me about China. It was FAR worse than I expected. One thing I noticed really quickly is that white people feel super comfortable taking jabs at Chinese culture even though it became painfully obvious that most of us (myself included) knew very, very little about China. It really was just to same few cliche (and sometimes inaccurate) tidbits over and over- “Communism is bad”, “China has the one child policy and Chinese families don’t want girls” and “Chinese manufacturing is bad.”
The problem with these statements is that for the most part they seem to be the beginning and the end of people’s education and interest in China. Instead of trying to learn more, or admit how little we know, we feel comfortable repeating these cliches.
The other thing I want to note is that all this stuff was said to my face over and over. The people saying this stuff had zero awareness that they might be spreading Asian stereotypes and misinformation. They truly thought they were saying something helpful, which is brain melting. When it first started to happen I would freeze up, not knowing how to respond.
This is incredibly frustrating as a mom to two beautiful Chinese children. How do I have a conversation about China when people don’t know and don’t care to learn what Chinese culture is ACTUALLY like?
Over time I became more confident in my education on China and I began to correct or push back on and challenge these statements. Instead of being met with informed debates or points to think about I was met 100% of the time with defensiveness- and that was it. I would usually get a sheepish “well, it’s true” or even worse, a racist mic drop about how China is not a “good” country.
It’s heartbreaking. If you haven’t had much exposure to this, I’m here to tell you- It’s worse than you think.
I’m writing this post today to bring awareness to this racism and to how VERY LITTLE we know about Asian countries and culture. The first step to fixing it would be realizing we have a problem, right?
It’s shocking how many white people (who do NOT consider themselves racist) share and defend these cliches. And sadly, they are not well thought out, informed ideas. You can’t begin to learn and do better until you realize you aren’t informed and that the ideas you do have might be incorrect.
If you’re a white woman, here’s what I ask of you. When you hear people say racist statements about Asian culture can you call it out? Ask questions. Usually if you ask more questions they will realize they don’t know what they’re talking about. Most white people can’t even describe what communism is. They don’t know that the one child policy has been phased out. They don’t know that just because something is “Made in the USA” it’s not automatically more ethical. Please have these conversations and continue learning about these topics- it’s one quick google search away!
Let’s work to promote the (very true) idea that white people have a LOT TO LEARN and that Asian culture is so much more than the three or four stereotypes we learned growing up. We can do better. We can and we must! Do it for my daughters. Help me spread awareness that racism is very much a current problem that deserves our continued commitment to make change.
Stop allowing white people to feel superior to Asian people.
Thanks for reading! I appreciate you. Please feel free to share this post with anyone who could benefit from it. xx