again

Saw you again
And your mom couldn’t look at me
Your eyes flicked for just a second.

When she stepped away
You struggled with your jiu-jitsu outfit
The belt, the gi
Didn’t cooperate in your little hands.

I asked, “Can I give you a hand?”
And you nodded a little, stealing a glance at me
Before looking away.

Normally I wouldn’t touch a white child
But you’re white in parental privilege only.
Nobody will think twice to see me
With a child who looks like she could be my own.

If your mom would look at me
If she would respond to my greeting
I would tell her
Where to get the right gi
What you should be wearing
That you need a new belt
And this is how you tie it.

But your mom looks away.
I gave her the benefit of the doubt
Two, three times more.
Now sometimes I think I hate her
For the way you look at me
Like a suspicious white child.

40 thoughts on “again

  1. thank you for sharing this, your poetry is moving and real. i think poignant might be the right word? but then again, i am not too good with words like you are.

  2. I am a bad person. I only make ugly faces at other people’s children.

    I consciously do NOT look at Asian children with white parents. Please please I’m so glad they do not talk to me because I am afraid I would say something so “wrong” that they may be offended.

  3. As an adoptive mom of a 2 daughters from China, I have to respond to this one.
    I do want ANY adult male, white, black, Asian, green, approaching my girls.
    I’ve had recently a man follow us though a parking lot, right up to my car, muttering “what beautiful girls” in a pervy kind-of way. I’ve also had people approach asking inappropriate questions in front of my girls.

  4. Beautiful. Sad. I think poignant is very much the right word.

    Hope it is ok to ask – are you in an area where a child would not often see adult Asian people? Because around here, even if I didn’t do anything to make it happen, I think an adult Asian person would not especially catch my daughter’s eye as anyone unusual for that reason alone.

  5. Hope it is okay to answer – did you notice that the two white adoptive parents on the end of this thread were quick to offer alternative explanations?

  6. Thank you for sharing this.

    Once when I was on the subway reading a book, a little girl came up to me and said “Hi! We just went to Chinatown!” I was the only PoC on the train car. As she regaled me with her Chinatown adventures her white dad who was standing behind her and refused to look at me. I didn’t even realize she was his daughter until she turned around and said, “Look! I made a new friend Daddy!” He then started mumbling about how they were taking her to different Asian areas to do “Asian” things (his words) – still not looking at me or talking to me directly.

    I had to get off the train before he could mutter anything else, but it was clear that his daughter getting confused as to why he was speaking facing the air. I’m not sure what I would’ve said if I’d more time, but the whole thing just made me sad.

  7. resistance, thank you for sharing your experience. You have a powerful way with words.

    The ignorance of white adoptive parents clearly has no limits. I worry about how that uncomfortability will affect their children and that ripple-out effect for more pain for the adoptees in the future.

    And did someone say Asian things? I *love* doing Asian things! I did a whole bunch of Asian things this morning! I woke up, that’s a very Asian thing to do you know. Then I brushed my teeth. They do that, you know, in Asia, a lot. Checked my email. I think email was invented in Asia, right?

    … Okay I’ve made my point. It was fun while it lasted…

  8. Hadn’t even realized I was doing that.

    But thank you for pointing it out. I guess that is part of why I come here.

    By the way – my own daughter, in spite of seeing a lot of Asian people in everyday life and going to Chinese school, went through a phase of running up to strangers who looked sort of Asian and announcing, “I’m Chinese! Are you Chinese?” – thereby very much annoying someone from Taiwan (as per conference ID button) and confusing someone I think was Latino. I’m mentioning this by way of trying to say I didn’t intend to say that not seeing lots of Asian people would have been the whole explanation. But anyway I do see your point, at least I am fairly sure I do.

  9. What’s the deal with not looking people in the eye?
    You know though – the power and innocence of kids can overcome this stuff sometimes. Maybe the kid will smile at you and point you out to Mom next time. Could lead her to at least say hello.
    Of course, it could also lead to J’s subway situation.
    Whatever the case – you are handling it well.

  10. resistance,
    thanks for letting me post again on your blog.
    I am an ignorant adoptive parent but trying to understand.
    I found your blog a few weeks ago —the entry titled “why I hate adoptive parents” when I was googling the pulled eyes miley cyrus stuff. My daughters , ages 4 and 5, told me a few weeks ago that kids at school had been making “Chinese eyes” at them. I talked to the teacher and it turns out the she’d known about it for awhile and never told me! The teacher didn’t want to confront the kids’ parents as she said they wouldn’t handle it well. In the end, I removed my girls from the school but it breaks my heart they had to go through that after so much loss in their lives already.The girls miss some of their friends but I can’t trust the school to treat them fairly.
    We live in a smallish town (for hubby’s job) and experience some sort of incident that I interpret as racism almost every day. Others tell me I’m imagining things.
    I hadn’t realized that I’d only seen the point of view of the mom in your post. If a stranger touches my kid, mama bear’s claws come out. I’m truly sorry.
    Thanks for you insights. I’ve read almost all of your posts and hope to keep learning.

  11. dixiedoodle, I’m not sure but I have the impression that this mom is working so hard at ignoring Resistance that she pretends not to see her, whether or not she is touching this child.

  12. Honest to god, I’m just curious:

    Have you ever seen this woman interact normally with other adults in any way?

  13. I always suspect that white adoptive parents find it hard to accept the accounts of people of color because they (1) want to deny their own racism and (2) don’t want to believe it will happen to their kids. In addition, it must be hard to know that you are white and have your whiteness tied to privilege and racism. (#1 also applies to white people.)

    In any event, I’d say that individual AND systemic racism on the part of white people towards people of color is more the norm than the exception.

  14. Resistance, it must be wearing to have to keep on answering the same questions and put up with more invalidations, i just wanted to say thanks for that.

  15. dixiedoodle – I’m sorry that happened to you and your family. Totally respect where you are coming from – we’ve had some nasty stuff happen to us as well.

    Something to consider – the whole idea to reading in places like this is to learn what other perspectives are. The point isn’t to try to relate because we can’t. I hope that makes sense.

  16. Lori,
    If the girl’s mom is actively NOT acknowledging resistance while s/he talks to her—then she is pretty darn rude and quite likely racist. Same with not looking people in the eye when talking to them, definitely socially inept and possibly racist.

  17. When other children at the playground don’t respond to my girls, don’t let them play.
    When the white girls at gymnastics don’t want to sit by my girls. or do pairs with them.
    When the white teacher looks at the other kids but not mine.
    When we were glanced at, then ignored by the other customers at the ice cream shop tonight.
    I had hoped it wasn’t racism. Now I know.

  18. CJ’s Daddy, i don’t think it’s “relate”, it’s called validating an experience of another person. it seems that you were able to validate another ap on this thread, but you don’t seem to be able to see that the other ap’s continue to question and offer alternative explanations to the experience that Resistance writes about.

  19. Kathy – wha?

    I don’t think it’s “relate” either – which is why I said the “point isn’t to try to relate” The funny thing is – I cringed along with you when I read the aps trying to explain away the experience as well. I’m not sure how you jumped to the conclusion that am not able to see that based on my comments.

    Resistance – if you have a way to hook me and Kathy up without approving this comment – feel free – you can give her my e-mail address. If you think it’s worth including in the discussion – I’m OK with that too.

    I wish there were a PM link because I’m not understanding why you are accusing me of this and I’d rather ask offline. But – here goes…

    I’m pretty sure I was expressing angry sympathy when I suggested “what’s with the lack of eye contact” – the idea being – instead of trying to offer an alternative explanation to the lack of eye contact – I’d seek a better understanding as to why it happens so often. In my mind – I was thinking – “why are people (particularly trans-racial adoptive parents) so afraid to look at PoC’s?”

    My last note was in fact an effort to explain that while I personally can directly relate to the AP perspective that dixiedoodle has, NEITHER of us can directly relate to the Resistance’s experience with racism. In reality, the most we can do is validate and show some level of empathy.

    The goal of my post in part was to discourage APs from sharing their own experiences with racism toward their children because I actually feel that to be an inappropriate way to respond to someone’s direct experience. It’s kindof like when when you tell a friend how upset you are about getting laid off from work and their only response is to complain about how small their raise was this year.

    Does that make better sense?

  20. CJsDaddy,
    Thanks. You’re absolutely right.
    I’ll just read and learn for awhile.

  21. NP Resistance = sorry all for the long note – as much as I like wordpress it doesn’t always cooperate.

    @Kathy – I may have been too defensive – don’t mean to jump on you.

    @Dixiedoodle – please don’t let me discourage you from commenting. I will give Sang-Shil some credit from a while back for explaining to me that it’s not PoC’s job to “be there” for my kids. That’s when my mind started to really be stretched.

    Look up Stuff White People do sometime – also quite enlightening.

  22. couldn’t help but notice you didn’t actually answer my question.

    It was an honest question. I am very close to someone who has some serious social anxiety problems and has often been accused of things that are not true about him because of it.

  23. CJ’s Daddy,
    Thanks for your explanation. I am really sorry if I made you feel defensive, and I didn’t think you were jumping on me or anything.

  24. Re: once you’ve been made aware of a behavior, continuation of that behavior indicates intent.

    Bets does raise a point. Sometimes continuation of the behavior indicates mental illness, not intent. But that’s the exception far more than the rule. And in this case, it’s a bit of a red herring.

  25. Oops, hit the submit button before I was done.

    I have yet to understand why you tag your poems as “susceptible to bad poetry.” I think they’re pretty powerful.

  26. Try to avoid the green people, for they are either zombies and they will try to eat your brains, or they are aliens and they will probe you.

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