As a transracial adoptee, I wish my white parents had talked to me about race
Photos courtesy of Sara Bennett

I've always known that I was adopted. My parents never tried to hide this from me. For one, they couldn't. I didn't look anything like them. Their smooth, pale, white skin contrasted with my darker complexion. Their double-lidded blue and green eyes were nothing like my brown monolidded ones. Strangers would often ask if I was sure that the tall, balding, white man was my father. When I eagerly nodded yes, a certain look would come over their face.

For as long as I've known that I was adopted, I've known that I was loved. My parents always made sure that I knew down to my very core that they cared for me. Even though I looked nothing like them, they were quick to tell me that it didn't matter—that they would love me the same if I were purple with white polka dots, or if I had red hair, or if I were taller. And when I was younger, I accepted their words as the absolute truth.


But, as I grew older, the narrative that my parents told me—that they didn't see my race—was challenged by those around me, who did see my race—and it mattered. Who asked me if I was bad at driving or assumed I was good at math. Who confused me with the only other Asian girl at my school of 1,500 students.

I had to reconcile what my parents had told me with what I had experienced outside of my home

I could no longer pretend that my race didn't matter. But what did it mean if my parents didn't see my race? Did that mean that there was a part of me that they couldn't see nor understand? I was trying to figure out how my race factored into my identity, and realizing that it was a much bigger part than my parents had led me to believe. Just because they saw the world through this colorblind lens did not mean that my own personal experiences reflected this.

In college, I gained the knowledge to truly understand my Asian American identity. I learned about microaggressions and stereotypes and the model minority myth. I met other people who had had similar experiences growing up. I learned to name the ways, both small and big, that my race impacted my day-to-day life. I felt validated realizing that there were others who understood who I was, race and all.

My race mattered. The only question was how much?

Now, as a 25-year-old, I wish my parents had talked to me about race. With the wisdom and grace that I gained in college, I understand why they didn't. But their lack of comprehension of the subject impacted the way that I saw myself and forced me to put together my own racial identity like pieces of a puzzle, with no help from them.

I wish that they had made more of an effort when I was younger to acknowledge my race. I wish that they would have told me that they saw me for who I was, race and all. I wish they could have helped prepare me for the way that my race was going to impact how I moved throughout life. I wish that they would have explicitly stated that they would love and support me through the complex journey of discovering what it meant to be an Asian American woman. But they didn't. And I was forced to learn all these things on my own.

I had a recent conversation with my mom about Black Lives Matter, which made me think that my parents just might be ready to hear my story. During our conversation, my mom seemed willing to listen to the ways in which Black people are discriminated against in this country and the way that the color of their skin impacts each and every interaction that they have. And while I know that my privilege is different, I am still affected by the way other people perceive me. And I just want my parents to understand that. I still have hope that they can learn.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Yesterday I was perusing comments on an Upworthy article about Joe Biden comforting the son of a Parkland shooting victim and immediately had flashbacks to the lead-up of the 2016 election. In describing former vice President Biden, some commenters were using the words "criminal," "corrupt," and "pedophile—exactly the same words people used to describe Hillary Clinton in 2016.

I remember being baffled so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

But none of that was true.

It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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Racist jokes are one of the more frustrating manifestations of racism. Jokes in general are meant to be a shared experience, a connection over a mutual sense of humor, a rush of feel-good chemicals that bond us to those around us through laughter.

So when you mix jokes with racism, the result is that racism becomes something light and fun, as opposed to the horrendous bane that it really is.

The harm done with racist humor isn't just the emotional hurt they can cause. When a group of white people shares jokes at the expense of a marginalized or oppressed racial group, the power of white supremacy is actually reinforced—not only because of the "punching down" nature of such humor, but because of the group dynamics that work in favor of maintaining the status quo.

British author and motivational speaker Paul Scanlon shared a story about interrupting a racist joke at a table of white people at an event in the U.S, and the lessons he drew from it illustrate this idea beautifully. Watch:

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

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Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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