Dear Adoptive Families of Asian Adoptees,
Do you see us? Do you see how the Asian American community is reeling from the recent violence in Atlanta, GA last week that led to the deaths of eight people, six of whom are Asian/Asian American women? Did you check on your Asian adopted family members?
Are you paying attention to the news reports and articles about the surge in anti-Asian violence since the COVID-19 pandemic, while also recognizing that this form of violence is not new? Have you stood up to the rise of anti-Asian racism associated with the pandemic? Or, are you perpetrating it? Did you remain silent as family members called COVID-19 the kung flu, Wuhan virus, Chinese virus, or other racist, xenophobic names? Did you tell your children, “Oh, they didn’t mean it?” as they encountered racism from other children, or even adults? How will you react when they hear “ching chong, ching chong” or “go back to where you came from?”
Or as an adoptive parent/sibling of an Asian adopted person, did you congratulate yourself for your anti-racism because obviously you cannot be racist since you have an adopted family member? Adoptees laugh collectively at this and hold Captain Jay Baker as representative for the racist family members that transracially, transnationally adoptive people may have in their families. He is, of course, the Atlanta police captain after the Atlanta killings who said, “It was a really bad day for [the killer],” and in March 2020 promoted anti-Asian racist t-shirts on Facebook. He also is the sibling to Tony Baker, a Vietnamese adopted person and a Superior Court judge in Cherokee County. Adoptees are not your token “Asian friend” to excuse your racism.
Maybe in summer 2020, you proclaimed your anti-racism, read Ibram X. Kendi and Robyn DiAngelo, subscribed to The Conscious Kid on social media, and patted yourself on the back for all of your hard work. You rallied for Kamala Harris and decried anti-Blackness, but then forgot how we need to stand against the intersectional ways anti-Blackness, anti-Asian hate, settler colonialism, xenophobia, and other forms of oppression interact with one another to combat white supremacy. Your performative wokeness can just stop right here. I’m also not here for what Richey Wyver terms adoptive white fragility, which “actively seeks to prevent race talk, the problematisation of racist desires, globalised hierarchies of race, gender and class inequalities, under the guise of protecting the feelings of white adoptive parents” (74). Unless you’re doing the hard work of confronting your biases and complicity in upholding white supremacy.
Educate yourselves, your friends, your families, your school districts about Asian American history. Do you know about the 1875 Page Act, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and other exclusionary immigration laws? The 1875 Page Act curtailed the migration of women for “immoral purposes” and targeted Chinese immigrants. This language denigrated Chinese women, and Asian women broadly, and trafficked in assumptions concerning their alleged lack of sexual restraint. The Chinese Exclusion Act and its subsequent iterations combined with immigration laws throughout the early twentieth century cemented notions of Asians as perpetual or forever foreigner, even though Asian/Asian Americans have been here since the eighteenth century. Pick up a book, or two, or three and start reading. Make the time. And in the meantime as you wait for your books to arrive, there’s been article after article published providing a quick overview.