Adoption Stories from Adopted the Movie - A Feature Film by Barb Lee

April 8, 2008

What Is The Human Cost Of Racism?

Filed under: Race and Identity,Racism — Tags: , , — Catherine @ 4:21 pm

From New Demographic & Talking Points Memo Cafe:

As I follow the discussion we’re having here at TPMCafe, I keep thinking about The Mother Teresa Effect, a concept based on her quote: “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

Jae Ran Kim explains:

“In 2004, Carnegie Mellon University conducted an experiment to see if this quote held true in real life. They gave participants five $1 bills to participate in a fictional survey, then presented half of the participants with a fact sheet about starving children in Africa along with an envelope for a donation. The other half of the participants received the same envelope, but instead of a fact sheet, they were given a photo of a young girl named Rokia and a paragraph about how her life would benefit from the participant’s donation.”

As you might expect, those with the picture of Rokia gave more than twice as much as those with just the fact sheet.

The researchers tried the experiment again, this time giving one group the fact sheet and the story about Rokia and the other group just the story about Rokia. Again, those with just the story of Rokia donated more than the group with both the story and the facts.

In other words, not only are we more likely to do something to help an individual than an abstract problem, the inclusion of factual evidence actually reduces our ability to empathize and take action.

Am I advocating that we throw all our facts and statistics out the window? No, of course not. What I’m arguing is that there is power in the specificity of the personal narrative and we should make use of it in our anti-racist efforts.

When I think back on how my own views about race have evolved over my lifetime, I realize that some of the most profound shifts in my thinking resulted not from reading theoretical treatises, but from learning about specific individuals’ experiences.

Read the rest of the article here: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/04/03/what_is_the_human_cost_of_raci/


March 25, 2008

From Anti-Racist Parent: “T-Shirts that trivialize the transracial adoptee experience”, and from New Demographic: “Is America ready for a *real* discussion of race?”

From Anti-Racist Parent (originally published at Heart, Mind and Seoul):

On numerous occasions in the past, I’ve been fairly unsuccessful in trying to convey how many times I’ve felt that the messages and attitudes perpetuated by our society about adoption often leads me to feel that I am reduced down to nothing more than a commodity. . .a tangible item that people with the right kind of credentials and qualifications can pick out and pick up. . .a product that in theory, shouldn’t be available for return, but in fact, sadly is. . .an object that is believed to come from some other place, manufactured by another country instead of being born to two living, breathing human beings.

And time and time again, I’m told that somehow along the way I must have lost my sense of humor or the ability to empathize or that I should really try harder see other people’s points of view. After all, they probably had good intentions behind whatever it was they said or did.

So I’m trying to find the humor and the good intentions behind these t-shirts. But I have to be honest; I keep coming up with nothin’.

Read the full article here: http://www.antiracistparent.com/2008/03/19/why-oh-why-are-these-t-shirts-still-available-2/

***

In her latest newsletter for New Demographic, founder Carmen Van Kerckhove wrote this very interesting piece on the recent events in American politics:

Is America ready for a real conversation about race? That’s the question on many people’s minds after Barack Obama’s historic speech last week.

Judging by some of the discussion I’ve seen on cable news since, I’m not so sure. There was talk about Obama “throwing his white grandmother under the bus” because he mentioned that she feared black men who passed by her on the street. There was indignation when in a subsequent radio interview, Obama made reference to a “typical white person” harboring racial stereotypes.

Seriously? Is it that controversial for Obama to suggest that white people — like all of us — have internalized racist stereotypes, and that those stereotypes impact their interactions with others? If we can’t even own up to that simple fact, how on earth are we supposed to move forward?

On Friday, I spent some time on the phone with a reporter from The Los Angeles Times (read the article here). I told him that I believe one of the biggest obstacles to dismantling racism is the way each of us is only interested in our own oppression.
We’re up in arms when someone in our own community is discriminated against, yet when the same thing happens in another community, we couldn’t care less. We’re more interested in playing oppression olympics — arguing that our group is worse off than any other — than in finding a way to uplift all of us at the same time.

And that’s exactly what I see happening here. Instead of absorbing one of Obama’s core messages — that just because you have the privilege of not thinking about racism, doesn’t mean racism no longer exists — some white folks are using this opportunity to cry “reverse racism” and paint themselves as the ultimate victims.

I really hope we can break this cycle of self-absorption and get real. If we’re serious about dismantling racism, we need to go beyond the concerns of the specific community to which we belong and recognize that when one group is discriminated against, it is an affront to us all.

Warmly,

Carmen


February 26, 2008

Seeing Pink: Gender Stereotyping in Toys

Filed under: Articles,For Parents,Race and Identity — Tags: , — Catherine @ 3:51 pm

From Anti-Racist Parent & Rice Daddies:

Seeing Pink: Gender Stereotyping in Toys

Before my daughter was born, I knew what kind of father I wanted to be for her. My babygrrl was going to be raised to be a fierce, strong woman of color. I was going to make her iron-on onesies emblazoned with portraits of Yuri Kochiyama, Angela Davis, and Frida Kahlo. Her toybox would be filled with both dolls of color, preferably made by either anti-corporate crafters or small indie companies, and things traditionally coded as “boy�? like trucks and cars and tools. Both toy guns and Barbie would be equally verboten in our home, and her closet would be a pink-free zone. I knew the constricting, restricting and damaging messages the world would soon bombard her with about race and gender, and dammit if I wasn’t going to all I could inside our home to inoculate her against them.

So yeah, it would’ve only served me right to have been gifted with a stereotypical “girly girl,�? a little karmic payback for putting all my crap on my poor baby’s head before she was even born. That hasn’t happened, luckily (more…)


January 29, 2008

Why do some people discriminate against their own race?

Filed under: Race and Identity,Racism — Tags: , , — Catherine @ 4:19 pm

From Race In The Workplace:

We’re used to thinking of racial discrimination as something that occurs between people from different racial groups.

But is it possible for a person to engage in racial discrimination against a coworker of his own race? It’s not as common, but it can happen. I recently spoke to the restaurant industry trade publication QSR on this topic.

So, what would possibly cause a person to engage in same-race discrimination?

1. They buy into negative stereotypes about their own race

All of us have been inundated throughout our lives with racist stereotypes perpetuated by the media and other social institutions. It’s impossible not to have internalized some of these racist beliefs — even those about our own racial group.

But some folks have internalized these negative beliefs to a far greater degree than others, turning these beliefs into outright racial self-hatred. These people genuinely believe negative stereotypes about their own race, and this leads them to discriminate against those like themselves.

2. They think it’s a good career move

If you can’t beat’em, join’em, as the cliché goes. In a workplace where people of a certain racial group are already being discriminated against, joining in the discrimination could be seen by some as a way to climb the corporate ladder:

Van Kerckhove says some instigators might also see race-on-race harassment as a way to politically advance themselves in the company, but that racial discrimination—even if it’s inadvertent—has to be present initially.

“That could happen in a workplace where there already is racial discrimination”


January 22, 2008

3 Sure-Fire Ways to Alienate People of Color at Your Meeting

Filed under: Adoptee Articles,Adoptees,Articles,For Parents,Race and Identity,Racism — Tags: , , — Catherine @ 7:05 pm

From Race In The Workplace:

The next time you plan a meeting — whether it’s an internal meeting or a full-blown conference — take a minute to think about how people of color will perceive your efforts.

It may not seem as if diversity plays much of a role in meeting-planning, but you’d be surprised.

Check out Association Meetings magazine’s cover story this month, titled “Bias? What bias?”, in which the editor was kind enough to include some of my thoughts on the subject.

So, what are some things you should not do if you want to make people of color feel included at your meeting?

1. Create a discussion panel that is a veritable diversity ghetto
Another common way associations attempt to diversify their meetings is to include what Carmen Van Kerckhove, co-founder and president of New Demographic, an anti-racism training company in New York, calls “the panel of marginalized people.” This is a panel that features, for example, a black person, a Hispanic person, a young person, and a person with a physical disability put on display to discuss their issues as members of a specific group. Instead of creating “the ‘diversity ghetto,’ planners could include those issues in the main topics of the conference.”

You have no idea how many conference organizers have asked me to be on their diversity ghetto panel. And this doesn’t just happen at conferences where the organizers are mostly white — Asian-American conferences are often guilty of this too. Many a time I have found myself, The Half-White Asian, on a panel along with The Bisexual Asian and The Disabled Asian. Of course no one used those labels explicitly, but it’s what the audience was thinking as they looked at us.

2. Force the person of color to talk about race and nothing else
And include minorities among your mainstream topic speakers, she adds. “It’s more powerful if you have a panel of top executives that includes a person of color discussing a business issue, than it is to just plop that person of color up there to talk about their race.” The Association Forum of Chicagoland, Chicago, is very attuned to this, says vice president and COO Pamm Schroeder. But, she adds, it takes more work to find new, diverse voices than it does to just fall back on speakers you already know and have good evaluations for.

Organizations have a tendency to think of diversity as a thing that is wholly separate from the day-to-day matters of business. So instead of thinking “Joe has some great ideas about where our industry is headed, let’s make sure he speaks,” the meeting planner thinks: “Joe is black, let’s show some diversity by having him speak about what it’s like to be a black man in this industry.”

3. Don’t reach out to people of color because you assume that your industry “just isn’t that diverse”
…Another common misperception made by dominant-culture planners, says Van Kerckhove, happens when people look around at a meeting and, seeing that there are few people of color, assume that it’s because there are few people of color in the profession or interest group the meeting serves. In fact, it may be that “many of the people organizing the conferences haven’t stepped out of their comfort zone to do a more thorough search to find people who are different from the mainstream” of attendees, she says.

Just because there was little diversity at every other meeting you’ve been to doesn’t mean that there’s no diversity in the industry. It could be that people of color are turned off by the meetings and opt to stay home. It’s up you to create an environment that’s inclusive to all people.

Read the original article here: http://www.raceintheworkplace.com/2008/01/17/3-sure-fire-ways-to-alienate-people-of-color-at-your-meeting/


January 15, 2008

Gloria Steinem: Pitting race against gender

From Reappropriate:

Since 2004, when rumours abounded over an Obama candidacy, pundits have cast this year’s Democratic election as a battle of identity politics: will Americans choose a Black man or a White woman to be their nominee for president? And by extension, will this finally settle the debate over which is the more subjugated identity: race or gender?

Yesterday morning, Gloria Steinem, influential second-wave feminist, weighed in at the New York Times with an opinion piece titled “Women Are Never Front-Runners”. I guess we can tell where she stands in this debate.

(Incidentally, if women are never front-runners, than how did Clinton get as far as she did on the “inevitable pseudo-incumbent” campaign she’s been running that made her the front-runner for most of last year? I find the headline of this piece to be a wee bit of hyperbole.)

We’ve heard many argue that it’s time for an African American president, and many more argue it’s time for a female president. But, nowhere in the race vs. gender frenzy that has swept the nation has anyone challenged the very validity of the question. How can one compare racism to sexism – and if one tries, where do those of us who are disadvantaged both by our race and by our gender fit in?

In truth, the juxtaposition is disingenuous, divisive, overly simplistic, and ultimately harmful, because it redirects our attention away from efforts to break the White male patriarchy that excludes all the Others, but towards in-fighting where we all compete to see both who’s more oppressed, and who will make it out of that “Oppression Box” first.

(more…)


New Demographic Anti-Racist Action Group Starting Jan. 28th!

New Demographic, the “antithesis of the typical diversity training company” founded by Carmen Van Kerckhove of Racialicious and Anti-Racist Parent, will be starting a new Anti-Racist Action Group on Jan. 28. The group is “a 9-week-long course that takes an in-depth look at race, racism, privilege, and stereotypes” which is done through 9 weekly 90-minute group phone discussions facilitated by Van Kerckhove and bi-weekly reading and writing assignments.

From the announcement:

What’s unique about the course?

In-depth
You will engage in an in-depth study of race and racism. Taking a single workshop — even if it’s a day-long workshop — only allows you to scratch the surface. The Anti-Racism Action Group, on the other hand, gives you time to thoroughly explore and process new ideas.

Action-oriented
You will actively engage with the material and think about how it applies in your life. It’s easy to space out while listening to an audio seminar or a diversity speaker. The Anti-Racism Action Group’s action-oriented format, on the other hand, ensures that you don’t fall into the trap of passive learning.

Personal
You will get to know your fellow group members, learn from each other and develop personal bonds. In a typical diversity training setting, the speaker drones on and on to an anonymous mass of people. The Anti-Racism Action Group’s discussions, on the other hand, are driven by your stories, experiences, and analyses.

Each Anti-Racist Action Group is made up of only 12 participants, so sign up now! If you are unable to join this action group, New Demographic has several a year- the next one starting February 27th, 2008- so sign up for their mailing list and stay updated!


January 2, 2007

Asian Women as Exotic

Amanda Baden, a transracial adoptee and adoption psychologist, on the exotification of Asian culture.

One of the interesting facets of being Asian in American, an Asian woman in America is recognizing in our culture that there is a tendency to exoticize Asian women in this society. And so for parents who are raising children who are Chinese and adopted, their recognition of that may take on a different tone. They may not be aware of it in the same way that I, as an adult woman, am aware of it. And so, emphasizing the child’s tie to Chinese heritage and cultures is wonderful; but, there is also this tendency to sort of–there can be a fine line I guess I should say– between objectifying being Chinese and celebrating being Chinese. And so when we objectify and exoticize this Far East kind of place, then it doesn’t become real to us here in America. And it’s hard to incorporate that sense of what China is in our everyday experience. So for a child who only sees that being Chinese means wearing those silk jackets and doing line dances, may be an inaccurate way for them to think about it. And may not help them at all understand how they interact as a Chinese person in school or at work with their friends on the playground. So we have to sort of balance it much more carefully.


On Feeling Lucky to Be Adopted

Amanda Baden, a transracial adoptee and a counseling psychologist, discusses the view that children adopted from China are often viewed as "lucky" to have been adopted by American parents.

One of the real struggles in adoption has been that people who are adopted, particularly from China at this stage in the game is that, these girls are always talked about as lucky. They are so lucky to have been adopted. What a great thing your doing for them. Which implies then that they need to be grateful and that they should be thankful for what’s happened in their lives. Which, as we know, isn’t always the case. They didn’t ask to be abandoned. They didn’t ask to be adopted. That doesn’t mean that they’re lives aren’t better, that they don’t’ have positive relationships and real loving relationships with family. But what it does mean is when gratitude is expected for being a child of a parent it somehow says that they aren’t allowed to be angry. They aren’t allowed to have frustration and they might not– if they have any sort of dissatisfaction, its something that they have to keep to themselves and internalize. That it’s not a family issue. It’s an individual issue. And I think as a clinician it’s really a family issue a lot of times. If everyone can tolerate being able to look at themselves a little more objectively and with a little bit more of an eye towards improving rather than criticism, then it can be very effective for everyone involved.


Asian Stereotypes

Richard Lee, a psychology professor at the University of Minnesota who specializes in the cultural socialization of Korean adoptees, discusses common Asian American stereotypes.

There are definitely stereotypes that men and women experience that are very different. For Asian American men, whether they are adopted or not, the stereotypes are that you are less masculine, nerdy, into technology and computers, you’re not athletic and you’re not attractive. You’re short and effeminate. The stereotype for Asian American women is not necessarily any better but it’s different. Women are perceived as exotic, as submissive, as care giving, also as sometimes conniving or too clever, tricky. So there are these different stereotypes that men and women have to manage. For Asian American men it’s a challenge because the prevailing Americans sort of pressure is for a man to keep their emotions inside, to not share or reveal the insecurities or struggles.


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