Along with dreadlocks and a non-white lover, the coolest accessory of the white liberal “left” these days is a bought colored kid.
How many times have you walked into the office of a union organizer, or a professor of the humanities or social sciences to be confronted with a picture of their adopted non-white kid hanging on the wall (along with other random pictures of non-white people and some photos of more “famous” non-whites)? How many times have you marched with a white person in a rally against war who is holding up a sign that says “Down with US imperialism!” while they wheel their purchase—oops, I mean child—along? (and of course, these people never see any contradiction between their slogan—“Down with US imperialism”—and the non-white child they purchased) How many times have you seen LGBT white individuals and couples respond to homophobia against LGBT parented families by buying a colored kid, neglecting to consider their access to white supremacy even as LGBT people?
How many times have you been sitting in an activist meeting to have a white parent stand up and urgently talk about the racism that his or her “child” experiences as a person of color? How many times have you had to sit and watch how these white people are so delighted to tell non-whites what their child experiences as a person of color? How many times have you been confronted by a white person who demands access to a people of color space and use their bought kid as an entry pass (similar to when they use their non-white lover to get into places)?
Whatever the case, a white “liberal” or “leftist” person who adopted a colored kid is still a white person walking around with a purchased body of color.
Now of course, I can see some corny white people (along with their cornier non-white friends and lovers) getting all red in the face and telling me how much they have provided for the child, how lucky this child is to have a home, to have food. Then, the white liberal or “leftist” will put out their information and historical knowledge on the structural conditions colored kids face. Then, they give their speech about what the children go through and how they’re saving non-white children. All the while the white person is about to have an orgasm from the pleasure of “schooling” non-white people about their history and conditions.
Thanks, but I think a lot of us—adopted or not—already know what the kids go through. We live lives as non-white people, and many of us come from the conditions and countries whose histories you know so well and love to tell us about.
For myself, I am quite aware of what the trade off was. By buying me, my white parents “saved” me from sleeping on a concrete bed in the South Korean orphanage I was housed at until I came to the US when I was three and a half years old. This transaction gave me the “opportunity” to live a middle-class upbringing and to have an entry into the lives of white people.
Of course, I was never really a full member of the household. That is, it was clear that my presence in the house was something to be both ignored and monitored. On many times my family would say stuff to me like, “I love you. I don’t see you as Korean. I see you as my daughter.” Or, when debating immigration, my family would be quick to point out that my presence in the US was fine—it was all the other immigrants that had to “get the hell out of the country” (our presence is always “allowed” if white people can regulate it and determine the terms of acceptability). Often, my beloved family would make fun of how Asian people talked by speaking in a mock “Chinaman” voice, never batting an eye but getting really heated when I said something to them about it. Once, my father told me to “Get your wok and go” in front of his new wife, and they laughed and laughed.
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