More than you think you are

Wife is “white”, at least visually.

I am “not-white”, at least visually.

There are those who look upon Wife differently because she chose to marry a “not-white”. Some look down on her because she married “outside her race”. Some look up to her because she married “outside her race”. Regardless of which way they look at her, they look at her differently because of her choice… or rather, their perception of her choice, because they see her skin color/ethnicity/race vs. mine, see our colors don’t quite match, and thus different regard.

Either way, it’s discriminatory behavior.

It’s curious I don’t receive the same regard. I mean, I did the same thing: married someone “outside my race”. I’ve had people publicly praise Wife for her action, and when I point out I did the same thing, I watch their brain lock up and reboot because they never considered the reciprocal. Is it because I’m male? Is it because she’s “white”? Is it because racial issues (supposedly) only flow in one direction?

That’s more discriminatory behavior.

Even more curious is when people look at me, they only see the half of me that’s Asian. They don’t see that white girl married a white boy, they see white girl married “something else”. Note you can only consider me “something else” if you look at me. My name is rather “white”. My voice is rather “white”. My attitudes tend to be rather “white”. For most people, the only indication I’m “not-white” is the slight squint in my eyes, the slightly darker skin tone, and some other physical features. And somehow in the eyes of some, it’s those few features that wind up defining me — not my mind, my heart, but my squinty eyes. It’s those features that, to some, define at least part of the relationship between Wife and myself.

Why do some people only see part of me? Why did they choose to see that part, and not the other part? Or that they choose to only see part of me, and not all of me?

Again, discriminatory behavior.

I grant, ultimately this is human behavior. We’re all guilty of it. I’ve come to accept it, and in fact sometimes I like that I look different be it due to ethnic background, my long hair, or my choice of clothing — especially because my looks don’t jive with who I am versus the stereotypes and preconceived notions some people have about folks that look like I do. It offers me a chance to see how a person really is. Do they look inward at the person? Do they stop at the shell? Are they blind to race and color? Or do they view the world and everything in it through a constant filter of racism, injecting race into every matter and issue and problem in the world?

If you want people to stop caring about race, you need to stop caring about race — period. The first step is to admit your own prejudices and faults, because you probably aren’t as progressive as you think you are.

8 thoughts on “More than you think you are

  1. Good post, John.

    My little world is a post-racial world. A few years ago (back when I watched television) there was a rather contentious fellow on Top Shot. It was obviously entertainment, but of course the gun boards went wild talking about it. At some point somebody brought up the fact that he was black – and alluded to that being the reason for the drama. At first I thought the poster was confused or talking about a different show because I hadn’t remembered him being black. But a quick Google search confirmed that the Top Shot competitor was indeed black. It just never really registered with me.

    You know I use to work with dogs professionally. When discussing racism with co-workers the topic of genetic diversity always came up. Think of how different the various human ethnicities are. Very slight differences in the shape of the nose, eyes, hair texture, etc. The most obvious difference is skin color. Now think of how different the various dog “breeds” are. A chihuahua vs. a great dane. 99% genetically identical. Now imagine if humans had such genetic diversity???

    I’m reminded of the Quanah Parker quote: “All same people, God say.”

  2. Great entry Jon……I look at you as Korean always have….It is just the way I choose to see you. I guess because I think Korean people are smarter than the rest of us LOL….from a more ancient culture….more refined and yes better cooks….I have always loved that part of you….I know you are prob White by all normal explanations but I have chosen to see you otherwise….I find your mixed ancestry brilliant and the fact that Michele has learned so much about Korean food and ways makes me respect her to epic levels…..I just think you are both exceptional people….and yes because you are a mixed couple who has chosen to live an independent and non-traditional life makes my respect and admiration for you more accentuated.

    • My ancestry gives me a different bit of exposure to things, just like your husband and his ancentral side gives you a different exposure to life. There is a different perspective, different experiences, etc.. And it does make you who you are.

      I think it would be wrong to deny who we are, where we came from, because those things are part of what makes us who we are. I just get troubled when people view the world only through such filters, seeing racism everywhere… but not seeing their own.

  3. Good post. I like to tell people that depending on the specific part of me you’re looking at I’m somewhere between pink, beige and brown.

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