hidden so deep

about 24 years ago, i was adopted. it's taken me this long to realize that it's a little confusing. it's also taken me this long to realize that i am not white.

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Fourteen years! For fourteen years, I have known that I am fucked up. For only a few moments have I tempted the thought that it is not just because I am a bad seed, born with a tornado sewn in her chest.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to write. It goes like this, you know– in spells. But it’s rusty as hell. I’m working on it. See you soon.

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interlude.

How do you say, “Sorry, and I agree, people of my race, and all others, should be considered different and still equal to yours, but the fact that they’re not is kind of the whole point” in Mom-Language?

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What’s needed is extraordinary cognizance on the part of white adoptive parents, a recognition that we do not live in a post-racial society, but a society which is still extremely stratified, where white faces dominate magazine covers, movie billboards, talk shows, Congress, the Senate, CEO and managerial positions. It’s a world where dark parents of a blonde child suggests to a racist world “pedophiles”, whereas the blonde parents of a dark child are “angels” and are “rewarded” for being “Good Samaritans” with nearly 60,000 + dollars of money they did not ask for and clearly do not “need” – and yet, have no intention of sharing with those who may most benefit from it: the families in Ethiopia who are unable to care for their own children because of a basic lack of resources and funds.

–Ruth Fowler, The Rescue Fallacy: Race, Privilege, and Adoption

xiv.

Sometimes it surprises me how internalized my internalized racism is. I think we’re all constantly learning to recognize new ways that systems of oppression have hurt or have privileged us. For folks who don’t have the vocabulary of privilege burned into their bones, I think it happens in different ways and different words, but I think it’s still there.

I’ve always had slightly uncomfortable feelings about white girls (and now, white women), or at least some of them. And while I fully recognize that it’s gross, it both stems from and perpetuates the concept of placing value on women’s bodies/personalities and their (in)ability to match the idealized form of a woman as portrayed on television. When I envisioned myself as a child, I envisioned a girl who was conceptually white. I didn’t see myself, I saw a translated version of myself. My brain converted my wider, flatter nose into something tiny and pointy, or perhaps just a blank white face with brown hair. I don’t know; this feels quite difficult to explain.

I get inexplicably jealous of white women, women who have somehow figured out how to win a game that I have been torturing myself to learn. In reality, they haven’t –they never had to. I am confident that they have struggled with feelings of inadequacy, of self-doubt, of striving towards some impossible concept of perfection. But I have also felt deeply that they have something desirable that I can never achieve, and that is simply the virtue (?) of being white, or being read as white.

While, if I could afford it, I could go get a bunch of plastic surgery and bleach my hair and skin all of those things, it would never soothe the feelings of inadequacy. As much as I like to pretend otherwise, I know that external changes don’t heal the internal crap that we’re wrestling with. Being able to magically look “white” feels closer to completely side-skirting the issue than fixing it.

Now when I envision myself, I still usually envision a conceptually white girl, but there is also a quiet me in the corner, who is fuzzy but ever-present.

Sometimes I believe I was born with these kinds of thoughts, a swath of darkness sewn inside my skin. Like there’s some weird, dark-horse inadequacy breeding inside of me, so I can never be as happy and carefree as those white chicks on TV. Their complicated mess is even cooler than my complicated mess. When I tell you, in passing, “that I forget sometimes that I’m Asian,” it’s probably because I am trying so desperately hard to be a Beautiful White Woman. I think it may be the only person I have wanted to be.

xiii.

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I don’t have anything prepared for you, but this isn’t an interlude.  It is a step, an inching forth.  I am skipping ahead to part two of the story, both in this entry and in my … personal investigation (? that sounds terrible, self. just fyi.).

I found a great conundrum to explore!  The problem is that I know/believe, both in my rigid little head and in my heart, that I need to do more internal investigation first:  that is, I have to ask my own mother the questions that are forming in my head.

And the saner part of me feels like that is a terrible idea.  Stay tuned as I try to dance around this reality for the next several months (or years).