By Maze Felix
Hello, my name is Maze Felix and my pronouns are they/them. I am a queer trans non-binary Asian American transracial adoptee and this message of grief is for my fellow Asian American adoptees.
Growing up, I used to look in the bathroom mirror and repeat “You are such an ugly white person.” Over the years, I’d reframe it as “you are such an ugly Asian person.” That feeling of displacement and misplacement has lingered throughout my life. I never had Asian parents who looked just like me, who could warn and prepare me of the dangers and violence in which racism persists in the world. Instead, I was suffocated, or what it felt at the time, protected, by whiteness. By my white family, my white friends, any white person in my life, by my own “white-minded ego.” And that in and of itself and my proximity to whiteness was my own privilege as a transracial adoptee. It was also my own erasure with both communities. And yet my worth was still reduced to any musical and academic achievements (still is), so I still wasn’t white enough for them I guess and had to still live up to those Asian stereotyped expectations. But every time I experienced and still experience a racial slur, harassment, a microaggression, fetishism, I would do exactly what I was trained to do as a kid. Be the bigger person and just brush it off because of course as we all know ‘sticks and stones can break bones, but words can never hurt me.’ I learned to manipulate my own feelings for the comfort of the white people who surround me, so well it comes as second nature for me to code-switch and no longer takes effort. Sometimes I force myself to laugh with them, desperate for the love and approval of white people. I have been so exhausted to care that people don’t care. I wasn’t allowed to be angry or hurt and am still not allowed because I didn’t know how to be angry or hurt. And now, that feeling continues. Not only this week, throughout Covid, but throughout my life. How can you grieve with a community in which you feel like an imposter every day? But how can you also grieve with the people who invalidate every racist experience you’ve had because to them, it’s not racist. My experiences have been narrated and curated my entire life, that to other people it seems I’ve lived my life without terror and fear. That is not true.
I saw a post by this person named Kaylyn Brown (someone you all should check out), who so beautifully put into words “it is hard to process violence against people who look like us when the perpetrator looks like our family.” I will also add friends and anyone we thought were our family and could trust.
I thought I’ve been grieving first being Asian and then not being Asian enough or not being white enough since the start of covid and this week, but it turns out I’ve been grieving all my life.
Do I even have the right to mourn when I never really felt Asian? Do I have the right to be angry? The bathroom mirror I continue to look at every day reveals more and reminds me that I am Asian. The farther I distance myself from the violence white people in my life have done, I feel more empowered as an Asian American adoptee. Because I am still Asian. I am still Asian to the world, whether I saw it or not as a kid. The nuances of being an Asian adoptee in a white world are so intricate but the answer today for myself and for all my Asian adoptees is yes. We are allowed to feel pain, anger, fear, and grief.
My name is Maze Felix and my pronouns are they/them. I am a queer, Trans non-binary transracial Asian American adoptee. While I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio and currently live in Columbus, Ohio, I consider the Bay Area in California as my second home. I was born in Yang Zhou, China and adopted at two years old. My first visit back to China was during a high school immersion trip in 2013, however I have yet to visit my birth city. I earned my Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Science from The Ohio State University in 2018, and will complete my second degree in American Sign Language interpreting this spring 2021. My interests in access and equity, intersectionality, solidarity, and community care has led me to pursue this field and community. It does not go unnoticed that I have received so much support from so many community members locally and around the country and it is important that I recognize those who have given so much to me. Networking, building meaningful connections with people outside my Ohio circle, and giving back and showing up are important personal and professional values. I also am a board member of a non-profit adoption organization in Columbus, that is run by adoptees. In my spare time, I enjoy singing and jam sessions on my guitar and ukulele, hiking, and I proudly do yoga almost 7 days a week. I am also a proud guinea pig parent. Thank you to KAAN for including me as an AAPI transracial adoptee.