Actual things people have said to my multicultural children.

May 29, 2018

The sad truth is that not many people even realize that May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.  For (hopefully)obvious reasons, it is an important time to celebrate & educate in our home.  This month (and every day) is a great opportunity to share stories and experiences of incredible Asian-American heroes.  There is a real deficit in our society for books and media empowering children who are multicultural.  I go to the book store and the library with my two half  Korean children, whose dad, uncle, and two aunts were adopted from Korea as infants.  We go into these establishments hopeful to find media that educates these children on their cultures, that tell stories like that of Major Lee,  the son of Chinese immigrants, and is regarded as being the first Marine Corps Officer with Asian Ancestry.

Truth be told, I’m particularly fired up this morning with a burning desire to educate on Asian American, after watching a video of a lady in California spouting hatefulness to a Korean American driver.  It shouldn’t surprise me considering my own children are only three and five and I’ve witnessed them on the receiving end of ignorance, more than once.  Over a year ago, I shared a satirical piece on some of the ignorant comments we’d received since they had been born (at that time they were only three and one, so the fact that we had enough material for a blog post says something.)

I’ll share an updated version here below:

“AWW, is he adopted from China?  I’ve always wanted to adopt from China.  I’ve heard they are great and math and they are always so cute.”
-paraphrased from the world’s most awkward conversation with a barista at a coffee shop.  

“Your kids are beautiful!  Are they mixed?  Is your husband a citizen yet?  You know, I just want to tell you that my ex husband left me to marry an Asian lady and help her get a green card, so watch out okay?  Have a great day!”
-a lady said this to me, in front of my children, while she gave us samples of corn dogs.  Her manager was very receptive to my suggestion of offering a class on what is and isn’t appropriate to say to customers of varying ethnicity.

“Do your kids speak their first language?”  “I know a few Japanese phrases, because my best friend is Japanese”
hotel employee

“He is very tall for an Asian child, isn’t he? Aren’t they usually short?”
me: “he is tall for a human child, yes.”

“Now, is he some kind of Oriental?”
me: “say what, biotch?”

The truth is, people always rave about the beauty of my children. They rarely say hurtful things from a place of unkindness per se.  It is ignorance, it is stereotypes, and above all it is an opportunity to educate.  I have tweeted and emailed book publisher after publisher to let me write a children’s book for boys like mine.  Multicultural children who feel like they need to go into one box, even though we live in a world with multiple boxes.  I want my kids to eat the fried chicken of my Southern roots, and know they are welcome to top it with Kimchi (or ketchup), or the potatoes from their father’s upbringing in Idaho.  Let’s create and share age appropriate media for teachers to read in classrooms that show heroic efforts from across the universe, and that tell the stories of America’s vast diversity.  Let’s help these young children know better than we know.  Let’s squash stereotypes and stop sticking our Asian American children into roles that don’t fit them.

Let’s write our favorite cartoon channels and tell them to get cartoons that represent Asian American families.  

Can I share a humbling story with you? When we moved to Portland, Liam was so happy to learn that kids here looked like him.  He couldn’t believe he had “half and whole Korean friends.”  Initially, I scratched my head, and then I realized it was indeed a first for him.

If you want to show your kids (or yourself) a little more about Asian & Asian American cultures, here are some suggestions:
Attend community cultural events.  Korean night?  Japanese food and culture night?  Sign up and go!
Read great books to yourself and your kiddos (I’ve done my best to round some up here, I wish there were more.)
Crazy Rich Asians (this is a series), Fresh Off The Boat, Dim Sum For Everyone, Bee-Bim Bop, Dear Juno, The Name Jar.
Ask a friend with limited English to hang out.  I invited my neighbor over when we first moved after her son explained she barely spoke any English.  We have since forged a great relationship, and we’ve had fun trading cooking lessons for English practice.  (She’s taking an English class at our local community college, but when she first asked me to speak English with her I was so confused!)
Volunteer with relocation groups, refugee groups, or anything of the like.
Encourage your kids to invite “different” friends for playdates and activities.

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23 Comments
    1. Well I have no idea what movies are out this summer, but now I want to go see Crazy Rich Asians!

    1. You are a bombshell person, mom, friend, role-model and I am one damned proud and blessed girl to be your friend. Miss you every day girl.

    1. Holy WOW! I can’t imagine what you as mom have felt like during those conversations. There is absolutely no difference between your children and my own. Keep fighting for that book oppourtunity! I would love to read it to my children. As for this summer- I am most excited to -maybe- grab the guts to take my twins with me to the movies! I have shyd away for a while now but I am itching to go see a movie! I’ve been under a rock for so long I don’t even know what’s coming out- but crazy rich Asians just might be it!

    1. Well now I’m super excited to see Crazy Rich Asians! I love love that you spoke up and made some real recommendations to the manager of the employee your wrote about. Hopefully they followed through!

    1. Incredibles 2!!!!!! The Incredibles is literally one of my favorite movies and I can’t wait for the second one. Ever since I saw it my dream was to raise a super hero family. 😜

    1. Definitely Ocean’s 8 because GIRLS RULE!! And Crazy Rich Asians—the book series is hilarious and just a GREAT read!

    1. I never go to the movies, so if our kids didn’t have something they wanted to see, my wife and I could go see Crazy Rich Asians.

      You mentioned in the post that there haven’t been any lead Asian actors in 30 years, but Jackie Chan and Jet LI were very big for a while. They have disappeared lately because the karate movie fad died out, but for a time they were everywhere.

      1. Oh great point. I try to avoid the karate movies with 2 little boys hahah. Always breaking up the wrestling.

    1. Aye, aye, aye, some people make my head hurt! I love your suggestions though and hope to see more Asian American representation!!

      1. Right girl? Seriously!! Thanks for your encouragement ❤️❤️

    1. Wow, I can not believe those comments from people! As a mixed child myself (my mom is Asian), I luckily grew up in a very diverse city, so i never felt outcast or different from the world around me. My husband on the other had, did grow up in a large city that was not surrounded by many Asian people, so he felt outcasted as a child. It’s definitely time for more Asian or Asian American influences for our children!

    1. Can not believe how fast your boys are growing! Why hasn’t anyone created a time stopper yet?

    1. I’m gonna check out some of those shows/movies ! I just can’t believe people SAY things like that!!

    1. I can’t believe some things people say! Your boys are lucky to have you to stick up for them until they can do it themselves. Also, I love Fresh Off The Boat!

    1. This is amazing informative! I love that you are brining awareness to issues like this!

    1. I’m Chinese and I get comments like that all the time…some are more colorful than others.

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