Being an Asian Twinkie and learning from it

My best friend and me
My best friend and me

I am a Twinkie, "yellow on the outside, white on the inside." I freely admit this because I was adopted in infancy from South Korea by a European-American couple and have grown to love and identify with the culture in which I was raised. This does not mean I have no desire to relate to my South Korean ethnicity, which I hardly know anything about; rather, I have found such a task difficult due to my background and the environments I have lived in most of my life. Though I feel most familiar with Caucasian family, friends and coworkers, I have taken the knowledge and awareness I have gained through my college education to understand more about my background and myself as a whole.

My adoption at the age of four months into a White family in a White area of Sonoma County, California resulted in my identifying with European-American culture. My father is Italian and Irish while my mother is mostly German and French. There were basically no other people of Asian descent in my town, let alone another Korean-American besides my brother, who was also adopted in infancy. My last name isn't even remotely Asian.

Although my mother attempted to explain ethnicity to us by taking us to various Asian cultural events, attending elementary school truly was the beginning of my realization that I was different ethnically; the innocent boldness of children allowed for questions about my eyes and the combination of light skin and dark hair. High school brought playful comments about me being the "token Asian" student, though I was hardly Asian at all.

I unfortunately know little of my South Korean side; I have only admired pictures of beautiful, traditional Korean dress, and sampled kimchi and Korean barbecue. As a result, I feel most comfortable in a Caucasian setting. I never even realized this until I attended college, where there is more diversity than I was used to in my hometown. After taking a multicultural psychology course, I noticed that I reflexively sit with White friends, though Asian friends are nearby as well. All of my boyfriends have been at least partially Caucasian. For most of my life, I almost felt distant from minorities; I was never cruel to others of color, but I certainly didn't appreciate the beauty of different cultures and ethnicities.

Being Korean-American meant little to me, as it never really affected my life significantly. Now that I am in college, however, I realize how much I could gain by learning more about my Korean ethnicity. Additionally, my desire to learn more about Korean culture has fueled an aspiration to discover more about other cultures as well. I see now that there are major differences between cultures and ethnicities, and that being colorblind is not a positive thing.

Though the first part of my life was shrouded in ignorance of the real meanings of ethnicity and culture, and the wonderful differences I now look forward to a healthy future of multicultural awareness and sensitivity, thanks to the experiences I have had in combination with educational and enlightening encounters with family, friends and educators.

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Comments 17 comments

desert blondie profile image

desert blondie 8 years ago from Palm trees, swimming pools, lots of sand, lots of sunscreen

Nice to read a first hand account of the experiences of an adopted Korean into a caucasian/USA/Sonoma, CA culture. Will be interesting to read more writings as you discover more of your heritage and pursue your individually unique USA future.


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

I read somewhere awhile back about a young Asian boy coming to America and was asked "what was the first thing you noticed about Americans?" His reply was "their eyes are slanted". I thought that was a great answer. Thanks for sharing your story with us. Thumbs up.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 8 years ago from United States

Great article! This is a topic I think about a lot, as my son lives in Hong Kong and my nephew lives in Singapore. Both are married to Chinese wives and I now have a new granddaughter. How to make sure that she knows and loves both cultures as an Ameriasian will be a challenge. Your links were very useful.


einron 8 years ago

From what I read, you probably did not have much problem adjusting to Caucasian settings. Your parents must have loved you very much and you probably have a strong personality from what I read in your hubs, you are likely to survive and succeed in an;y setting. Best wishes.


petexanh profile image

petexanh 7 years ago

Thanks for the article. Well worth the read. Twinkies a cute term. Where I'm from in Australia I've only heard the term 'banana' for the white/yellow metaphor. I, myself, get referred to as an egg (white on the outside, yellow on the inside). As a caucasian who tends to find himself surrounded by Asians (even more comfortable with them at times), its great to read an articulate article on the flipside.


Susan 7 years ago

Hey ! I competely idenfy with you. I am korean american as well but not an adoptdee but i mine as well be a twinkie anyway. I am a korean born american but i was raised with a very White background. My mother is korean and my step dad is white. Even though i know more about korean culture i know how you must feel looking korean and feeling more american than anything. I am totally the non asain of things too. All my friends are white and I don't speak much korean and i cant even write it. i dont even act like a korean. But i know how it feels to want to be apart of a culture you should know and be. I have struggled with this time to time and have tried to learn things about koreans because i feel so "white". And in the future, i am ambigiously going to try to write a book about these struggles and ideals about being korean, being korean american and so on. And i would love to chat with more about how it is like to be a korean adoptee. Please email me at Vsusanmoon@yahoo.com. I would be lovely to hear from you


Cheeky Girl profile image

Cheeky Girl 7 years ago from UK and Nerujenia

My girlfriend is part asian and she took me to Thailand and we stayed in South Korea for a weekend. It's a great country! Seoul is impressive despite being a small country, it sure has an industrious side! (I liked staying on the beach in Thailand too!) I stayed at beach resorts in the Philippines and lots of South Korean people go there for holidays, they love the Filipino people. Filipinos like Korean people more than other asians. Why do Korean people always go around like twins, always wearing and coordinating the same colours? That was cute! We all have some heritage from a previous place. My grandparents are part Italian, part Austrian, part British, so lots of people are from all over the place. I love your "Twinkie" name you used! That's a famous snack over there in the USA, I tried it! There's no harm in being proud of your heritage! I enjoyed this Hub : )


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 7 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you all for your comments! It's always nice to hear from fellow "Twinkies" as well :) Cheeky, you apparently know a lot more about South Korea than I! :P


Neil Ashworth profile image

Neil Ashworth 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Great !! I've bookmarked this for further viewing..


mtkomori profile image

mtkomori 6 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

Your hub was very insightful. I am a Japanese citizen living in Canada and think about ethnic differences on a daily basis. My sister's husband is a Korean American, they both live with my parents in Tokyo, Japan. My brother in law, his sister and his parents immigrated to Los Angeles when he was about 18 months old from South Korea. I was surprised to hear that being Korean American affected you little, perhaps it was because there were virtually no Korean Americans where you lived? My brother-in-law's parents living in L.A. were part of the Korean community and they only associate with members of that community. His

parents don't speak English all that well even though they've lived in L.A. since the early 70s. My brother in law was forced to learn the Korean language by attending a Sunday school but he never really mastered the language, although according to my sister, he can speak Korean "at a kindergarten level". I think my brother-in-law was subject to racism from white people as he was growing up; on one occasion, on my return trip to Tokyo in '08, I heard him mention the word "white trash"! Years ago, he travelled to Korea and spent about a year as an exchange student at a university in Seoul. Unfortunately, he didn't feel welcomed there. Classmates were asking him why he couldn't speak Korean even though his last name was Korean! I think he felt like an outsider there. Incidentally, he met my sister while there! So for him, being Korean in L.A. was a big part of life, as his parents always spoke to each other in Korean, he was introduced to Korean food regulary (I think), and was forced to learn the language.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California Author

Wow, you're very insightful, considering we've never met! Even though I don't have a Korean last name, the first thing people ask me when they learn my ethnicity is if I can speak Korean. I feel inadequate because I can't. Thank you so much for sharing the story about your brother-in-law... I know there are a lot of people who feel the same way as he.


mtkomori profile image

mtkomori 6 years ago from Yokohama, Japan

Thank you for your response, glassvisage.

Looking forward to more of your hubs...


Neil Ashworth profile image

Neil Ashworth 6 years ago from United Kingdom

Very good article. You write well and provide some valuable information..


eduscribe profile image

eduscribe 6 years ago

Isn't insight fun? I grew up in Sonoma, too! Like you, I was one of the only minorities in that town, but I have some fantastic life long friends from there and I'm sure that you do, too. Have you read "The Invisible Knapsack" by Peggy McIntosh? Culture is not genetic, it is created by us everyday - you are more than a Twinkie, you are the Creator of your own individual sub-culture with the power to accept and reject what you so choose from the cultures that you're exposed to. Or so I believe... and so I do. Blessings to you.


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 6 years ago from Northern California Author

Thank you for your comments! Eduscribe, you bring up a valid reading - I have indeed read McIntosh's work and I think it's a must-read for everyone, regardless of your background. Thanks for posting and for your kind words.


tony0724 profile image

tony0724 6 years ago from san diego calif

Well for what it is worth GV I just see you as a person. Or in this case a fellow hubber ! Thanks for sharing your experiences.


learnlangwithease profile image

learnlangwithease 5 years ago

Hello.This article was extremely interesting, especially since I was investigating for thoughts on this topic last Thursday.

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