Tag Archive: mixed race

Two White moms and a mixed race baby — one Hapa’s perspective (STOP MAKING IT NOT COMPLEX)

Several years ago, my friend Rita saw a play written by Asian adoptees raised in America. She told me about one vignette in particular that started out with this statement:

“It takes exceptional parents to raise a child of a different race. [beat] My parents were not exceptional.”

I keep thinking about that statement as people, primarily Black people and White people, weigh in passionately about the White women suing a sperm bank that mistakenly impregnated one of them with the sperm of a Black donor.

I think about it as a person who had to figure out how to navigate growing up mixed race, with the benefit of parents who loved me deeply, including a White mother deeply committed to raising me with a deep appreciation of my South Asian heritage, and as someone who pays a lot of attention to mixed race dynamics as a result. I find myself thinking a lot about that kid and the world that’s been created for her by that clerical error. I’m not all that interested in pouring contempt on the parents. I’m more interested in thinking about the world we live in and the world we’ve created that resulted in this moment in history:

  • It is more complicated to navigate multiracial realities than most people in a predominantly monoracial context realize
  • People usually select their baby’s genetic makeup when they choose who to partner with; the outrage over this lawsuit pretends that’s not true and pretends that race matters less to people than it does
  • Advances in fertility treatments raise serious issues about race but also about disability and what constitutes a desirable baby
  • Perhaps what we’re really talking about here isn’t about how we treat multiracial children, but the culture of anti-Blackness baked into America. And maybe we should be honest about that.

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Race Identity as accountability, not escape: reflections from a light-skinned anti-racist

I still feel a little silly when I get to the point in an anti-racism training where I say “I’m a victim of racism.” I think there’s two reasons for this:

1)      Most people of color shaped by American society have a pretty big stake in either “I made it on my own merits despite discrimination” or “I haven’t been affected by discrimination.”

2)      Look at me. I’m under no illusion that when I get on a plane people get nervous; they don’t. (Unless they’re sitting next to me. But that’s because they’re going to get less armrest space with me than with a supermodel.) These days I don’t even get searched by TSA all that much more frequently than the rest of you. I rarely get “you have almost no accent,” and even when I get “where are you from?” it’s out of curiosity rather than malice.

One of my best friends has recently raised with me his concern that I’m pretending to be something I’m not when I publicly proclaim my identity as a South Asian American*. After all, while I share a lot of the experiences of my darker skinned (and full-blooded) South Asian brothers and sisters and wrestle with the same identity issues of being South Asian and American, the way the world experiences me is as a White person unless they know me or see my name. (You can imagine the conversations I have to have with people when I show up not looking at all how they expected me to.) (more…)

You can’t go with this or that…you can only go with OTHER

I was on a conference call the other night for the committee that evaluates board nominations for all the different arms of our denomination. Someone was giving his report on the makeup of the NAPAD board (North American Pacific and Asian Disciples), of which I’m a member. He said, “Well, their racial-ethnic percentages are great–almost all Asian American, obviously, and a couple of ‘Others’ and an Anglo.” I didn’t pay much attention–the regional minister who sits on our board is half Latina, and the General Ministry partner is Anglo. Then he said, “Now, they’re almost all in the 50-59 category with practically none in the 30-39 category.”
“Wait a minute,” I thought to myself, “on a board of 12, Cindy and I are both 30-39.” I flipped to the excel spreadsheet he was reading from, and I quickly interrupted, “Um, I’m on this board, and I just want to clarify that I’m still quite a few years from the 40-49 box.”
“That’s when a friend of mine on the conference call said, “And you’re Asian American.”
I looked over. And sure enough: the box that my own community had checked for me was “Other.” (more…)