In a recent conversation with a Well-Meaning White Woman, who talked a little too loud and sat a little too close to me, I experienced a microaggression microaggression. Let me explain.
She adopted an Asian girl and being the Well-Meaning White Woman that she is became familiar with many of the ‘microaggressions’ (her words, not mine) that Asians face. As she interspersed commonly espoused ignorant phrases like “All Asians look alike” and “Asians must be smart” throughout our conversation, I felt the whole interaction turn into a farce.
Knowledge of stereotypes and racist assumptions are hardly admirable and doesn’t stop these interactions from happening, will not protect your Asian child, nor serve as a bonding moment between you and me. We cannot bond over our families not knowing which Asian we are in a photo, or how teachers treated us as if our intellect was inherent, or how we are relentlessly questioned about our right to be here in America, teased because of our eyes, our nose, our skin color, or generally and continually made to feel ‘other’ than. We cannot share a knowing look when a Well-Meaning White Woman interjects into a conversation among friends to say she has adopted an Asian girl and she’s doing it ‘right.’ Put simply, we cannot find refuge in each others presence.
I care little if you have knowledge of these demeaning insults or prejudiced beliefs because, as we all know, knowledge only takes you so far. It is what you do with this knowledge that matters.
So do not tell me how you know what it’s like to be an Asian and adopted woman in this world. Tell me what it’s like to be a white woman who interrupts racist talk, dismantles systems of power, and listens first and talks second. That is something we can bond over.