Something I've been thinking about since I wrote the post last night – I wrote:
Read how the Korean American adult adoptees responded in the Evan B. survey:
- 78% experienced racial discrimination as a child
- 48% experienced racial discrimination by childhood friends
- 38% experienced racial discrimination by their childhood friends' parents
- 75% experienced racial discrimination by their classmates
- 39% experienced racial discrimination by their teachers
But what has been nagging at my mind all day is this…these are self-reported accounts of discrimination.
You know, it took me until I was in my 20s to recognize racism and racial acts. Like the time my middle school geography teacher ching-chonged at me in class? I remember that so clearly, including how uncomfortable it made me when the whole class looked at me in response - but wouldn't have called it racist or racialized discrimination at the time. I only knew the physical taunts, the "slanty-eyed" pull at the eyes. I didn't know the "c" word and the "g" word were comparable to the "n" word back then.
If I hadn't learned as an adult about all the nuanced forms of racism and racialized discrimination, how would I have answered the question? Would I have forgotten about those incidents?
I'm always surprised when I meet a transracial adoptee who grew up in an all-White community and school who says they were never the subject of racialized discrimination or racism. A part of me says, "wow, that's pretty cool you never experienced that." And another part of me wonders if they just didn't recognize it for what it was.
You can't name something if you were never taught the language to describe it. In my own case, as a kid I wasn't taught that racism existed unless you were an African American and it involved slavery, lynchings or the KKK. I didn't have the language to describe what happened to me in my geography class.
Food for thought.