Being an Ally
As some of you who make the Transracial-Adoptee-Blog-Rounds know,
I’ve had a couple of friends who have had to move their blogs due to
harassment by adoptive parents. I don’t want to have to
password-protect or close off comments on my blog, because I believe
that people should be able to opine *respectfully* and *with manners.*
Let me just say, for the record, that I am not here to denigrate or
pass judgement on adoptive parents of internationally- or
transracially- adopted children. I am not here to educate you, give you
parenting advice or a “how-to” list. This blog was not written for you.
I write to share my experiences and my thoughts for my TRA friends and those who are our allies.
Therefore, I ask that if you visit this blog you respect everyone
else who visits too. I ask you to read these posts with an open mind. I
ask you to suspend judgement about us. Do not assume that if I write
about some hard truths that I, as an adult Korean American adoptee has
faced, that I must be (in any order) ANGRY – BITTER – RESENTFUL –
HAVE A BAD RELATIONSHIP WITH MY ADOPTIVE PARENTS – HATE MY ADOPTIVE
PARENTS – AM PSYCHOLOGICALLY DAMAGED – UNGRATEFUL or HAD ABUSIVE ADOPTIVE PARENTS – or any other such assumption. If you want to engage and argue and debate my
truths, how are you going to respond to your own child’s future
experiences? Are you going to invalidate their feelings and experiences
Here are some of the characteristics of Ally behavior versus Adversary behavior*** on the University of New Hampshire web site:
Don’t assume to completely know someone else’s experience.
Don’t judge others.
Keep an open mind.
Don’t assume you know another’s experience until you walk in their shoes, and even then, try to show empathy.
Understand your own privileges.
Acknowledge the power bestowed upon you based on your social group membership.
Don’t deny your privileges.
Interact and find support from other allies.
Help others understand their own privileges.
Let your actions speak louder than your words.
Believe that there are always possibilities for alliance building.
Respond with acts of kindness.
Don’t expect external rewards for your work as an ally Do it because it’s the right thing to do.
Walk your talk.
Know there are different ways of doing and seeing everything.
Be comfortable with criticism and feedback.
Try to acknowledge your own prejudices and baggage.
Challenge the norm.
Don’t get stuck feeling guilty for the oppression of the past.
Take ownership in your own conscious and/or unconscious participation in oppression.
Accept that others may stereotype you.
Demonstrate your ally role through your actions rather than trying to convince others of it through your word.
Never speak for an entire group’s experience or try to represent an entire group.
Don’t expect someone else to represent an entire social group.
Recognize that no one form of oppression is more significant than another – there is no hierarchy of oppressions.
Know that the past is not your fault, but the present and future are your responsibility.
I believe there is no way to lay out the path for every family’s
journey in some prescribed way. Each one of us is a unique and creative
individual who has some damn hard work to do in their lives to get to
where they need to be. Who am I to tell you how to do that?
The reason I share is to encourage those in power to review and reassess their strategies,
so that future generations of transracially- and internationally-
adopted children have a safe and secure sense of themselves in an
increasingly diverse and global world.
***[from Barnes, L., & Ederer, J. (2000, April). From agents to allies: Active citizenship in our multicultural communities. Workshop Presentation at the American College Personnel Association (ACPA) Conference, Washington, DC.]