Bicultural Identity and Adoptees

A friend of mine tipped me off to this piece recently aired on WAMU regarding bicultural identity for transracial Asian Adoptees, and bicultural Asian Americans.

It’s an interesting piece, and I think that making the link between transracial adoptees and HAPAs is an important one.  In fact there are many aspects of our identity that we share.

The tone of the piece in the end seems to completely validate and glorify the idea that having White parents strengthens a transracial Asian American adoptee’s sense of identity and biculturality.  I believe that there is some validity, and I think every adoptee has the right to agree or disagree.  I disagree just a bit, and I believe that while having white parent and Asian/Asian American parent makes you bicultural, I struggle at times finding my own sense of biculturality as a transracial adoptee raised in white culture.  I wasn’t able to find this sense of solidarity and understanding of Asian American pride and culture growing up in a predominantly white society.  In fact I loathed the very idea of becoming more Asian as it distanced myself from fitting in with everyone else.

There’s no real conclusion here, because I think putting conclusions on identity even for yourself is always premature.  This is a great piece, and I think what makes it NPR worthy is the fact that national public radio loves pieces on identity where there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.  And what journalist or radio journalist doesn’t love a piece where there’s closure especially on an issues such as contentious as this.  We as transracial adoptees feel any number of different ways about who we are at various points in our lives.  I appreciate this adoptee’s honesty and I think perhaps we are pressured too much into pidgeon-holing ourselves.  Part of whiteness is this sense of wholeness, and legitimacy which in turn deligitimizes and fragments people of color residing in predominantly white settings, and those who are bicultural or multiracial.  We don’t necessarily always have to identify ourselves for other people.  It’s this fluidity and often confusion that we feel as bicultural, or multiracial individuals that proves the awkwardness and absurdity of whiteness to begin with.

Rant rant rant…in any event, take a listen to this piece and let me know what ya’ll think.  G.S.

http://wamu.org/news/07/09/04.php 

Advertisements

One Comment on “Bicultural Identity and Adoptees

  1. Meeting you halfway from the other side…

    “I struggle at times finding my own sense of biculturality as a transracial adoptee hapa raised in white culture. ”
    Yep!

    “I wasn’t able to find this sense of solidarity and understanding of Asian American pride and culture growing up in a predominantly white society.”
    Yep! It was completely impossible as a child, possible but difficult as an older adult. What also made it hard was that my Japanese father had no interest or respect for Japanese-American culture. To him, Japanese Americans were just Americans who offended him with their attempts at bad Japanese.

    “In fact I loathed the very idea of becoming more Asian as it distanced myself from fitting in with everyone else.”
    No. I’m lucky I never felt that way, even though it seemed like the world was sometimes conspiring to make me feel that way. Asian-American self-loathing is a tragic problem affecting many people…

    Personally I thought the argument at the end of the piece sounded rather odd. But finding the positive in defining your own unique identity… if it works for the author of the piece, great!

    I know what you mean about fragmented identity. I used to accept the designation placed on me — “half-Japanese” — but ten years ago I realized it was terrible and started challenging it. I refuse to be half a person… so I use hapa or multiracial Asian, or else I am truly specific and say “I am half Japanese and half white American.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: