The other “white” meat

Several things this past week have collided together relating to a similar theme. This weekend, I spoke at an agency’s pre-adoptive parent training as part of a panel of adult transracial adoptees. I also want to point you to this post by Heart, Mind and Seoul and the discussion I am part of at Resist Racism.

Paula at Heart, Mind and Seoul writes,

I’ve been told countless times throughout my life how lucky I am, as an Asian, to have been born the "best alternative" to being white.  I’ve heard the following said to me, in one combination or another, on numerous occasions: "Your people are hard working.  Your people are good at math.  Your people are automatically assumed to be smarter than anyone else in the room.  Your people have an incredibly strong work ethic.  Your women are exotic and desirable.  Your people are industrious.  Your people know when to keep their mouths shut.  Your people are agreeable and get along with everyone.  Your people are the next best thing to being white; just thank your lucky stars that you weren’t born black.  If you can’t be white, being Asian is definitely the next best thing."

"Racism is racism is racism is racism.  Those who proclaim to want nothing to do with one or two select races, but in the next breath will proudly announce that they won’t mind if an Asian family happens to move next door or if an Asian guy happens to work in the next cube over, is no one I want to be acquainted with.  On two different occasions when I shared the news of the impending adoption of our son from Korea, I was told twice in so many words, "Oh, I could never adopt.  But if I had to and I couldn’t get a white baby, I’d definitely pick an Asian one – there’s just not as much baggage or trouble with the Asians."  Sadly enough, I know these people actually meant this as a genuine compliment towards me and my perceived ability to assimilate into total and complete "whiteness". [bolded words my emphasis]

At Resist Racism, Durgamom wrote, "This is why when I hear the same old tired excuse from white adoptive parents that they feel comfortable adopting an Asian child but not a Black child, I feel a lot of compassion for that Asian child and immense relief for that Black child."

My first response to this comment was complete agreement, and I added that I read this on home studies on almost a daily basis. Resistance then asked me how these statements and beliefs are handled by the social workers.

My response:

"In my experience, some good social workers do try and address this. But, remember that the adoptive parents at private agencies are the clients, not the children. My public agency can push harder to explore this statement because our “clients” are the children in foster care.

However, we are limited because of MEPA and IEPA laws. That means, legally, we can’t disapprove a home study because of these kinds of blatant or hidden statements expressed by potential adoptive parents. We can try to inform pap’s but ultimately our hands are tied.

I often read home studies that say “biracial but not African American.” To me, this could mean a number of things all on a continuum of problematic reasoning. Maybe the parents think biracial kids will be more accepted in their small, white towns. Maybe they think they won’t have to address African American racism or culture if the kids are only “1/2″ black. Or maybe they have outright bias against African Americans and they know this about themselves.

However, it is difficult for a lot of pap’s to recognize that children who are biracial, API, Latino or Native American all have the same needs to be affirmed, represented and supported as full-on African American kids. Whether it’s skin color or perceived potential racism, racism exists and needs to be addressed."

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