And another thing

Yes, yet another.  Maybe even several.

First.  You white parents don’t have to worry about teaching your children not to be “oversensitive.”  Because what you’ll really teach them is that you’re insensitive.  And then they’ll probably learn not to tell you anything at all.

Second.  It seems that many of you feel that you have suffered from discrimination.  I would bite my tongue until it’s bloody if you were telling me about some painful incident you experienced and you deemed it “racist.”  Because I know that there are many things in our lives that can wound us deeply.  So I would be trying to listen to the emotive content and not to your incorrect word choice.

But that said, I have to wonder why this experience didn’t cause you to learn any empathy?

How can you detail some experience that obviously hurt you and yet ignore the hurtful nature of racism?  How can you want your son or daughter to experience that hurt?  Yes, it’s probably true that everybody has painful experiences as a child.  But is that an excuse for witnessing hurtful actions and doing nothing?

Third.  White parents of Asian children (and I’ve heard more than a few of you say this):  Just because you made this gesture in the past and don’t think you’re racist doesn’t mean anything.  Just because your Asian child makes this gesture does not mean it is not racist.  Undoubtedly the child does not understand the underlying racist sentiment.  I mean, you don’t.  How would you expect your child to learn?

Your five-year-old is not going to say, “Excuse me, mother, but that gesture has its origins in anti-Asian racism that has been around since the 1800’s.  The problem is that this type of unexamined racism feeds into stereotype and discrimination.  It furthers a racist system of exclusion.”

And finally.  You may assert that your nine-year-old has never faced racism, but I seriously doubt it.  It’s more likely that she has never told you.  And why would she?  Because “those people” play the victim.  They’re always offended about something.  They’re making a big deal out of silly stuff.  They don’t know how to fight “real racism.”

Why would she want to be one of “those people”?  Nobody takes them seriously.

2 thoughts on “And another thing

  1. If it makes you feel better, second-generation Asians with first-generation Asian parents don’t tell them about racism either, because many first-generation people who grew up elsewhere don’t understand [North American] culture and symbolism. I sometimes feel jealous when I hear of multi-generational black parents teaching their black children how to resist racism. I wish I didn’t have to do this alone and start learning as an adult.

    It’s probably worse to be Asian with white parents, though, because you would have to resist the racism of your own parents.

  2. Several years ago, I hiked up Angel Island in San Francisco Bay with my Korean son. He was five at the time.

    I took the opportunity to teach him the history of the immigration station that was once there. We talked about it all the way to the (ugh) top of the island.

    While we stood there and enjoyed the view, there came a moment when he asked me “you mean people like you?” I think that was the first time it dawned on him that someone that looks like his father could pose a threat.

    It is hard. You are right about that.

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