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August 12, 2008


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And very brave of you to put such a close part of yourself out there in order to help others.

With my boys, I have had some hope that diversity would help. Living in an environment where everyone else isn't the same.

But then I see then in Korean language class, singing songs they don't even understand the words to yet (but remember whole songs worth of the words!) and being called by their Korean names and I see them so happy they could burst.

You know, the checklist of three things so much defines me. I remember an earlier post from my early blogging days where I mentioned that I always felt a bit different, yet that my friends never saw me as Asian.

In many ways, I defined myself "white" without consciously doing it.

Have you ever read any of Mahzarin Banaji's work?

I went to one of her lectures and asked her afterward about the specific phenomenon of expecting to see a different face in the mirror than the one you see. She told me that she is currently in the process of seeing how transracial adoption affects some of her parameters. She also, interestingly, told me that she has had this experience herself many times - she is surrounded by white people, she said, and often is surprised to see her own face in the mirror.

Anyway - maybe you will find some of her work interesting, if you are not familiar with it already.

Sara, thanks so much for the links - I am DEFINITELY going to check them out!

Thanks for sharing. It's always good to know that I am not the only one who has struggled/is struggling to balance the dissonance. It's was a lot of work just to figure there was dissonance!

I need to used this post in my race class. It provides a really good example of the symbolic itneractionist perspective on race.

Thank you for this post. Part of the reason I so strongly want to adopt a second child is because I don't want our daughter to feel so out of place in our family. That when she is feeling as if she doesn't fit that there will be someone next to her that can relate and share with her. Additionly, I try hard to find more diverse set of friends and acquaintances to fill our lives with not just for her sake but for our boys.

I am not sure if this means I am succeeding or not but we belong to a small church of 40 people. Not very diverse, but there is one Phillipino family with 3 older children (14, 12, 8). The other day my daughter (age 3) put her cap on backward and said "look, I am Alfonso" (the Philippino father). I had to laugh because it was funny but it made me think about how and who she picked to "look like".

Responding very late to your post here, but as the parent of two children adopted from China, this is an issue I worry about all the time. It is not the only reason we decided to adopt a second child from China, primarily we wanted another child, but it certainly was a factor. I didn't want my daughter to be the "odd person out" in the family, the only one who looked different from the rest of us.

Yesterday, my daughters and I attended Chinese school for the first time. I deliberately picked a Chinese school that is primarily for Chinese speaking families, but also offers some classes for children who speak English at home. I happen to work in a department where at least 40-50% of the employees are Asian, and some of my colleagues send their children to this school.
When we arrived there yesterday, I was thrilled to be one of literally hundreds of people streaming into the building (it's held on a community college campus) and hearing snippets of conversations in Mandarin all around me. And only a few faces like mine here and there. For a couple of hours every Sunday, my daughter can be just another face in the crowd.

I don't know if my efforts will be enough to combat the types of feelings you had as an adolescent but I am constantly looking for ideas on how to help my children value and cherish their own ethnicity even though they don't see it reflected in my face.

Astonished. I have spent my entire life avoiding mirrors and photos and only now, at 36, am I beginning to make peace with my reflected image and the image in my mind.

I always thought I would look like my older sister when I grew up; tall, buxom, long wavy brown hair and Italian! What an emotional fracturing to realize that I was not one of "them,' but "other." Thank you for this posting. We are not alone.

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