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And for once I was SuperMom

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

People

Have you seen this video?

First of all I would like all my Asian friends to start doing this.  Please.

I used to work at international school in Nairobi, I had a conversation with a mom once that made me cringe.  She was of Asian heritage, and that school was so international that I'd gotten used to a more open discussion about race and ethnicity.
"So where are you from?"  I asked, expecting Korea or China.
"Seattle," was the response.  Right, I'm that guy.  Awesome.

The thing that singes the most about this video is the idea that if you're not white you must be from somewhere else.  If you're white you have the right to claim your ethnicity as an American.  While those who are non-white must be from somewhere else.  Except that the actress pointed out in the video that unless you are Native American, you are from somewhere else.
My husband's mom is Australian, and his father's side of the family has only been in America for a few generations, because he is white no one assumes otherwise.  He likes to tell people that he is Australian African American (his dad, yes he is white, was born in Kenya).

One of my childhood friends is half Chinese.  Once in high school her mother came to school and gave a little talk about their heritage and shared some food and stories.  I remember it being almost a revelation, she was my friend.  Not my Chinese friend.  My friend.  All of her, a whole person, no labels.  Why would pictures of her Grandparents be any more interesting than pictures of my Grandparents?

We need to get to a place where we see people as people.  Our heritage is important to us, who we are and where we are from can define us, even if we choose to reject it, that rejection can define just as much.  I have had a lot of wonderful conversations with people about their heritage, most of the time if you recognize where they are from and have some experience of that culture people are excited and happy to share.  I have known a lot of Koreans that were thrilled when you recognized their ethnicity, sometimes I think they were just glad you didn't think they were Chinese.

Here's the thing though, it's when you know them as a person.  Not as an Asian.  Or an Australian.  But as a person, that's when barriers come down
And every time you treat someone as 'Asian' you rob them of their humanity.




2 comments:

Heather Paulding said...

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http://spunkyrealdeal.blogspot.com/2013/05/summer-fun-giveawayblogger-opp.html
Xo,
Heather P
Spunky real deals

Angela @ Time with A & N said...

Great post. Almost eight years I started working at an incredibly diverse school with students that originate from over 30 different countries. As a Midwest white girl, it was the best eye opening experience I ever gave to myself. I talk a lot to my students about acceptance and ethnicity and stereotypes and how we are all one race, the human race.