This weekend

This weekend I saw a little Asian girl I’ve known for approximately the past seven or eight years.  I know her parents as well, although I always have the sneaking suspicion her mother can’t tell me apart from the other hordes of my people.

This little girl never speaks to me.  And I’m not really surprised, because I’ve had a number of interactions with her white parents that make it pretty clear she’s not supposed to speak.  Once I attended a community event and there were several tables.  One table was completely filled by white adoptive parents and their Asian kids.  Another table had an Asian kid with an Asian parent and many open seats.  So I went to sit there.  While I was sitting there, the mom came up and I greeted her and her daughter by name. 

The mother did not look at me, nor did she greet the other people seated at the table.  She pulled two chairs from the table and dragged them across to where the white adults were sitting and had them all move their chairs so she and her daughter could squeeze in.*

The daughter stood for a time at the table, staring at me.  I said a few other things to her, and she turned and walked away without speaking.

One of my friends, who is white, and annoying, although I try hard not to attribute the annoyance value to the whiteness, said that I need to be compassionate about the fear other people feel.  And I think I do try, although I think that they need to person-up for the sake of their kids.  I also think there is a lot of projection going on, because it seems that often white people are afraid of me.  Sometimes they assume I will disapprove of them and their families, and sometimes they even think I might be mean to their children.  (This blog has received comments to that effect.)

I would be mean to their children … because why?  Because I hate whitey and thus I wish to punish small children of color for having the misfortune to have white parents?

This weekend I saw this little girl whom I’ve seen at least once a week for years.  She was not with her parents.  And she caught my eye and waved.


* A friend and I have started referring to this sort of incident as “The Chair Thing.”  It sometimes manifests as white people not moving to allow you to join a space, and is a stark visual example of inclusion and exclusion.

15 thoughts on “This weekend

  1. This is not fear, this is just really bizarre. Either this white adoptive parent is extremely strange, just plain rude, or , as you say, can’t seem to differentiate you from other Asians. Very glad this little girl remembered you and spoke when her mom wasn’t around. Very odd that her mom is somehow transmitting that it is not ok to talk to you otherwise. Wow, again, are these people weird or what?

  2. “I would be mean to their children … because why? Because I hate whitey and thus I wish to punish small children of color for having the misfortune to have white parents?”

    Yup, that is probably what is going on, fear that somebody is going to explain the ways that white privilege has impact on international and transracial adoption, that would be my guess.

    Maybe a lot of adoptive parents are extremely strange:)))

  3. yeah, unfortunately MA it’s not just an isolated case of this particular AP being weird. It’s pretty common of white AP’s who have adopted transracially to be completely oblivious to their own race and privilege (which funnily enough is one of the things white privilege affords white people, to not have to make race an issue,) and especially how it effects their children and other poc.

    I don’t know if that’s as clear as I wanted it to be, but this stuff bothers me too much to write more.

  4. It is not at all unusual for white people to refuse to acknowledge people of color, even in settings in which they have regular contact. It is especially common for white people with kids of color to avoid even making eye contact with people of color.

    In any event, we did this before.

  5. Resistance, I hope you don’t mean my comment about the reactions we have gotten from _some_ people at the playground. Because I think I can tell whose intentions are friendly and whose are to other and exclude my child.

    The friends my daughter chooses are mostly Asian and African-American. And that is fine with me and with the (mostly non-adoptive) parents of those children.

    Anyway, speaking of comments on other posts, your comment about the prejudice nonadopted people have against adopted people made me sad… and would also explain all the negative playground reactions I had mentioned earlier.

  6. I think part of it is fear of rejection by her kid. I know one white adoptive parent who would not read her daughter a book about a same-race family because she didn’t want her daughter to feel “rejected by her country.” When really I think she feared rejection by her daughter.

  7. Whatever the reasons behind this APs actions, there is clearly an element of racism/privilege going on. You are the bigger person for continuing to be polite and offer a welcoming attitude.

  8. Lori,

    Anyway, speaking of comments on other posts, your comment about the prejudice nonadopted people have against adopted people made me sad… and would also explain all the negative playground reactions I had mentioned earlier.

    Can you provide a link?

  9. Very interesting… I have seen such behavior in a racist environment… People who are either rude, ignore me or have that overly sickenly sweet behavior meant to convey dislike , but I guess I thought a white adoptive parent would not be so prejudiced against another Asian person to just deliberately ignore that person unless… and I guess, this is it, they see their child as white, not really Asian. When someone ignores me over and over again, I usually walk up to them in a very nice voice and ask them if I have done something to offend them since I say hello to them regularly, and they totally ignore me. They usually apologize when confronted as if they had no clue…Usually after that, they start saying hello. Even if they don’t really mean it…

  10. I continue to be astounded and deeply dismayed by the behavior of so many white adoptive parents. But in this instance I was heartened and surprised to see the little girl greet me in the absence of her parents. It reminds me that these kids will be individuals away from their parents’ umbrella of white privilege. It also reminds me that they will ultimately choose their own affiliations and identity.

  11. Maybe they know you run a website that is completely distrustful of white people and can’t be bothered by someone so obsessed with the color of someone’s skin.

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