I felt terrified of putting myself out there in this blog after watching a comedy show, Ali Wong: Baby Cobra. I thought her show was really funny and I agreed with a lot of her perspectives. But, I was again left thinking, “Maybe there just aren’t other people that can relate to me.” Those familiar feelings of isolation came flooding back in, like I’m the only one who can understand, or even have compassion for my situation. I’ve heard it referred to as terminal uniqueness. The fear started to stifle me again.
I kept writing and rewriting, but not posting. I asked myself, “Why was I so bothered by this comedian’s words, when I really liked her?”…. Maybe that’s why I was bothered. I liked her, I agreed with her perspectives on feminism and on how Asian men can be underrated. But, I was really bothered by her comments about racism. She made a joke about how her mother doesn’t have any black friends, and that “life is not Rush Hour the movie.” She also said that she thinks people should marry within their own race so they can “go home and be racist together.” I am married to an amazing Korean man 😘. We feel the sting of racism from all sides, whether it’s being excluded from family functions or the general ice that we sometimes get when we’re out in public. I think that Ali Wong’s words struck a nerve because my in-laws’ racism has sometimes been downplayed and tolerated among our family and friends because it’s “cultural.” When did cultural racism become okay? I wish that someone Asian would stand up and say, “You know what, it’s not okay!”
I am half white and half black. Growing up, I verbally identified myself as black. That’s how I saw myself, and that’s what society and my family told me that I was. Back then, being overtly racist against black people was not something acceptable in main stream media or society. But it seems like something has changed. Now, it almost feels like being racist against black and brown (Latino) people is seen as acceptable. That really scares me. I now identify myself as mixed race black and white. In college, I began to challenge the label of black, because I am, in fact, half white. I immediately got a lot of resistance from my black friends. They couldn’t understand why I would not want to be called black. In fact, one took offense and said I was trying to be white. Being white was not what I wanted, I just wanted to be recognized for who and what I truly am, and not be made to fit into someone else’s label of me.
It’s been getting even more complicated for me as I’m filling out forms for my son’s school. I’m forced to choose one primary race for him and then allowed to add multiple secondary races. My husband and I decided to go with Korean, since our son is 1/2 Korean, 1/4 black and 1/4 white. But, Korean is not what he identifies with. My children almost never hear Korean spoken, I don’t cook Korean food, and my husband’s parents disowned us when we got married. In fact, The first time I ever spoke to my mother-in-law was after my son was born and we’d been married almost 3 years. Even after that, neither my son or I were allowed to speak with or meet his grandfather until my son was 3 years-old. My husband and I continued to send cards and money $$$ to them every Birthday and holiday during the time we were cut off. Even now, the relationship that we have with his family is rocky at best.
My son also doesn’t look very Korean. He looks like a handsome African American young man with Asian eyes. He calls himself brown skinned and part Korean, but I don’t think he would identify himself as Korean, nor would he identify himself as black or white. This makes perfect sense to me, because none of those labels are what he is. I am confused by our societies obsession with separating races. I don’t see the need to choose a race to identify as in the first place. It seems like an idea that a mono-raced person came up with. To me, as a multi-raced person, it seems completely nonsensical. It’s like asking me whether I identify myself as a mother, or a daughter, or a wife. The answer would be all of the above. It would be silly for me to have to choose one primary relationship and then list the rest as secondary.😔 Why is our society so race obsessed?