Sunday, October 19, 2014

The White Saviors

I had an affair with a strapping young white man. It was beautiful but then fell into ruin. He used me and ignored me. I can see his bright, blonde hair and his sea blue eyes. I remember the hurt as he left me with a destroyed family life.

Then, I woke. I had this nightmare a week ago. It spoke to me as symbolic of the way in which I felt the white world sees me … to use until I am no longer of use.

Bill O’Reilly knows how to use me. The mere fact that he uses my race, “Asian,” as a means of discounting white privilege illustrates something. He is actually using his white privilege to perpetuate the stereotypes that pit me against my black sisters. You see, I have a history. I was white in Appalachia. But not. The words “colored” and “negro” and “nigger” were commonplace in the community where I grew up. In school, I never spoke up about the prejudice I witnessed for fear of the tables turning.

Surprisingly, my family did not use these words. Obviously, we were often more likely to be called names since my father spoke in a very thick Spanish-influenced accent. My first friend in Tennessee was a young black girl. My daughter is named after her, and she moved away shortly after I moved into the community. After she left, I had fewer black friends.

Often, my tormenters were blacks. I understood that this was a case of “Shit rolls downhill.” There were few Asians to come to my rescue. But when I cycled over to the whites, I faced more bullying because I was reminded that I was not white.

When I went to college, I received a full scholarship to Austin Peay State University. That was my ticket out. The whites in my small community taunted me saying, “That’s a black school.” Their view of APSU was painted by college sports. The basketball team, predominately black, offered their only exposure to the college where one-fifth of the student population was black.

Over the years, my confidence has grown as I matured and formed my identity. I have friends of all colors. But the ones I hold closely now are my mothers of color. We fear for our children. The bullying and the profiling, the needless deaths … I hear their stories and my own son’s.

Since our President began his tenure in 2008 with fanfare and a renewed optimism, I have instead witnessed the old guard of racism rear its head. I am frightened for our sons and daughters. Law enforcement scares me. Amidst all this fear, I also hold hope that there will be more dialogue … and I see the likes of Jon Stewart and Megyn Kelly coming to save us.

 It takes those with privilege to open the doors and introduce us.

Feminist columnist, Rosita is a transracial, Korean-American adoptee. She is married to a Brit who refers to himself as an Anglo-American and is a mother to two multiracial children. Rosita was adopted in 1968 at the age of one through Holt International. Her road has been speckled with Puerto Rican and Appalachian relatives and her multiracial sister, the natural child of her adoptive parents. While quite content with her role as a “Tennerican,” her curiosity has grown recently as her children explore their own ethnic identities. She considers herself a lost daughter, not only because of the loss of her birth family, but also because of the loss of her adopted mother, who died in 2001 as she became a first time mother. Rosita has recently started her search for her natural family. With the help of G.O.A.’L., she visited Korea in August 2014. When she is not supporting her children on their individual paths, Rosita spends her time as an art educator, ceramicist and an art photographer. She also shares her adventures as an adoptee and parent on her blog, mothermade.