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My Privilege as a Chinese Adoptee and How I Can Be a Better Ally to Black People

6/25/2020 | Emily Murray

When I was nine months old, I was adopted from China by a single, white American woman. I have been told by white people that I am “so Asian,” and I have been told by Asians and other People Of Colors that I am white. I grew up eating “white people food” and only speaking English, but people saw me for how they assume Asians are. I have always felt Asian, but often did not feel connected to the Chinese culture. I only felt Chinese when I was immersed in Chinese culture or when I was eating Chinese food. My connection to being Asian came second-hand from Asian friends when they introduced me to Asian things. Being raised in the Seattle area, I was surrounded by many Asians, and had the opportunity to get to know a lot of Chinese adoptees. I never felt alone in my experience as a Chinese adoptee. I recognize my privilege as an Asian, and I recognize my white privilege as an Asian raised by a white mother.

I have been aware of my race since my first memories. I was questioned why I had a white Mom. As I entered high school, I became even more aware of how people perceived me when they would make comments such as asking if I was good at math, or if I ate rice at home. In college, I first started to realize how race affects me socially and systemically. I have a hard time putting my voice forward because of people's expectations of me. Many people assume I will show up reserved, and I am often not asked my opinions on things. People make assumptions about how I think and act because of my race and my gender, and those assumptions affect me in ways that I do not always recognize. I am still always learning about how race affects me.

From my experiences in high school and college, I now recognize my privilege of not having to navigate the complexities of how the world sees me because of my race. I recognize that other Asians may not have had the same privilege that I did because I was raised in an upper middle class house in an upper middle class area by a white mother. I recognize that Black people all over America recognize that they are seen as less than at a much earlier age, and I have never been worried that being Asian has caused me to be targeted, or even put my life in danger.

I think it is also important to note that just because Asians are seen as the “model minority” that does not mean we have it made, and it does not mean that it is not essential for Asians to fight against racism they experience. Asians experience racism every day, and something needs to be done about it. I recognize I have the privilege of not having experienced a lot of racism towards being Asian. While all minority groups have suffered from prejudice in American society, we recognize that Black Americans have experienced more racism and injustices done throughout history. Right now is the time to take a stance and act on supporting Black Lives Matter and police brutality towards Black Americans.

As an Asian, I feel it is important for our community to stand up for racial inequities and Black Lives Matter. I personally try to listen, learn, and educate myself every day. In order to do that authentically and in a way that enacts impactful and powerful change, I need to self-reflect and look at my own privileges and biases. I need to think about how my race affects me, how I have experienced racism, and the privileges that I have because of my race. I need to learn about how Black people have been treated in American society for hundreds of years, and how Black people are treated to this day.

I want to use my privilege to help fight racial injustices for all People of Color, and especially Black People in America. I will continue to learn, listen and grow. I will push myself out of my comfort zone and take a stance on what I believe is right.

Here are some resources I have felt helpful for myself:


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