apples and bananas


In a discussion about the white privilege of international adopters with another adoptee who can pass as white, I was asked if  this applied to adopting Korean-Americans.

I would say resoundingly yes.  Those Korean-Americans and adoptees adopting are adopting out of white privilege.  Why am I in so much trouble here in Korea?  Because of my white privilege, because I didn’t know enough about what it means to be Korean.  I am a banana here.  (yellow on the outside, white on the inside)  Once upon a time, I was a rotton apple.  But today I am a banana, thanks to being raised white.

Once upon a time, I too considered adopting – even though I was abused and adoption did me no favors.  I too thought I could “save” a child and give them more opportunity.  That’s called privilege and it’s gross.  And it was the marginalization of my race and country that comes from white privilege that got me to think that way.  And I’m sorry – just because you can’t have children doesn’t entitle you to scour the wombs of other countries to exploit a nasty situation.

I had no reason not to believe what the prevailing messages from those surrounding me were saying.  I had no reason to think about how imperialist it was.  I especially didn’t think about how I was a product of this patronizing mind-set.  I didn’t think about the children’s mothers or the lack of choices their mothers had, because I had pushed the thought of my own mother into the most remote, inaccessible places I could.   I didn’t think about how my actions ultimately contribute to perpetuating a social structure that disenfranchises women and the poor.  I didn’t think about how I was f*g with a system from the outside and how that was affecting Korea’s ability to raise themselves beyond a developed economy into a more enlightened,  advanced society.  Ultimately, self-determination – without interference – is the only thing any nation can have confidence in.

I can come here with my white privilege and say, “you backwards heathens, you should do this and you should do that.”  But really, it is up to Koreans to come to their own conclusions about these things and that takes time.  Time to enter the global village.  Time to produce mongrel children and be forced to accept them.  Time to dispense with us vs. them.  Time to realize you can can respect your elders for their service and suffering, but that honoring them does not have to mean committing the same mistakes they did.

In so many ways, Korea does not realize it has arrived.  Like roboseyo recently wrote, and that is evident in example after example, nothing indicates this nation’s insecurity more than their posturing and protesting how valid they are.   All we can do is provide good examples and hopefully, the contradictions of the past and the tyranny of  its dictates will cause enough electric jolts to their systems that they will realize – hey, we are free and it doesn’t have to be this way anymore.

Minsoo kept her baby and she’s doing well.  Young Hee got a divorce and the world didn’t end.  Kyunga’s half black baby is beautiful.  Eun Sook started her own business and it’s thriving.

Taking and adopting their little children/embarrassments/burdens isn’t helping them grow, but retarding Korea’s growth.  We can help Korea by not interfering, leaving them to clean up their own mess, helping them help themselves, and celebrating what they do right.

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