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Being an Asian Twinkie and learning from it
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.
- Rant! Rant!
- Feature: What Type of Asian Are You? Stuff Asian People Like - Asian Central
Mr. Gary Lee has a fascinating post for Asians and those close to Asians. I came across this one while researching why Asians are so darn into techno and rave.
- Asian American Net: Asian Organizations
Asian American Net is the first and only web site whose mission is to serve all Asian American communities and to promote and strengthen cultural, educational, and commercial ties between Asia and North America.