A few days ago, I watched Things Asian Hate from comedian Eliot Chang. And I’ve realized there a few things I’d add to that list, albeit from another perspective. As an adoptive parent of an Asian American child, here’s the shit I wish people would STOP saying to us.
All of these things have been said to us at one time or another. For really and truly. Some by strangers in the grocery store, some by people who thought they knew us, some by folks who thought they were well meaning, some by people who are also adopted. All have been said by folks who, I confess to wishing had just stopped talking before they started.
Want to talk? That’s cool and we’re open to it. And open to having a discussion from a variety of perspectives. But please, oh pretty please don’t start with this crap.
“What do you know about his parents? No, you know what I mean. His REAL parents.”
“Is he Chinese or Japanese? I can never tell”
“Isn’t it amazing how little white babies can look Asian when they’re young?”
“What IS he?”
“I have real concerns about how you are going to keep up with his needs in math.”
“I am a music teacher. I have so many little Asian students and they are SO good on the violin.”
“I have a friend who has a daughter adopted from Guatemala. She’s 20 now.”
“Where is he from? No, I mean, where is he FROM?”
“It’s so good that you did this because, you know, the Asians? They don’t want their babies.”
“How much did he cost?”
“Little Oriental babies are the cutest, don’t you think?”
In Korea: “He’s so light. You are so lucky.”
“Can he speak Korean/Chinese/Japanese?”
“What province is she from in China?”
“Why didn’t you adopt an American baby? Were you afraid the mother would come take him back?”
“He’s going to hate you for this when he’s older.”
“I thought it was only girls that they didn’t want there.”
“Why did they give him away?”
“Oh, he looks just like you. I can see a little bit of Asian in you. It’s your eyes.”
At a work event on diversity with a collection on the stage of a black man, a woman in a wheelchair, and a gay man: “And speaking of diversity, here’s J____ with his baby from Korea!”
“Wow! His English is amazing!”
Looking at scribbles by our 2-year-old: “Wow! He can write Chinese!”
When alone with child: “Is his Father/Mother Asian?”
“God bless you. You are so good. So, so good.”
“I hate it that white people think they can do whatever they want and just adopt Asian kids. Do you think he even knows he’s Asian?”
“Do you get afraid he’s going to look for his real mother?”
“Your son looks JUST like a young Dalai Lama.” (For the record, NOT EVEN CLOSE.)
There’s so much more, but I think this gives you a taste of what not to say.
Have your own to add to this list? Let me know. Only by working together can we defeat the evil forces of people opening their mouths without having them actually connected to their brains.