I was born in Yugan County, Jiangxi Providence, China. In the year 1998, the One Child Policy was still in effect throughout China. Because of this, my birth mother ended up abandoning me, leading to me end up in an orphanage and being given to a foster family.
Then, in 2000, a little less than three years later, I was adopted by a white family from America.
Throughout my life, I have had to acknowledge the fact that due to the circumstances of my birth and subsequent adoption, I will never fully fit in.
To the white population that I have been surrounded by since I was brought to The States, I am a white girl in a yellow person’s skin. To the people that share my looks, I am an Asian girl without culture or history — a yellow paper whitewashed through overexposure to her environment.
I'm most accurately described as a banana — white on the inside and yellow on the outside.
Unlike the other fruits who’s colors on their inside match with their richly toned exteriors, a banana's beautiful exterior hides a plain, pale, boring interior.
To most people, I am seen as “basically white.” This statement is one that many people of color adopted by white families often hear. I think it’s meant as a compliment. It's praise of the fact that we have assimilated to white culture and a spoken acknowledgment of the fact that even though we are a part of an “othered” group. People will ignore our colored exteriors.
The problem with this phrase, “basically white,” is the fact that I am not white. We are not white. The tendency of people to claim to be colorblind in order to prove that they are accepting, that they can’t be racist if they don’t see people as colors but as people, is incredibly frustrating.
Our color is part of us.
Without it, we wouldn’t be the people we are. It’s great that you see us as people, but why is that something to be proud of? To need spoken acknowledgment?
People of color are people. End of story.
To see us as people and not skin tones is nothing to boast about, and I am proud of my color. I want people to see it. To ignore my color would be to ignore all of the oppression that I have battled all of my life in order to get to where I am. To ignore my color would be to deem the bullying, othering, and blatant ignorance that I have faced unimportant.
People of color have lifetimes of hardships that they have had to overcome in order to be where they are today. We don’t want to be accepted as white. We want to be accepted as our unapologetic selves.
I am tired of feeling bad for not being white. I am also tired of feeling as if I am a “bad Asian.” It is not my fault that I am adopted. It is not my, nor my adoptive families fault that we don’t know much about my Chinese heritage, culture, or history.
The majority of my life has been a struggle with identity. It has been the need to fit in with my white peers fighting with my unwillingness to ignore the challenges that occurred over the years that were obviously a result of my skin tone.
Yes, I may be seen as a banana, but really I see myself as more of a blend or mixture. I am not yellow on the outside and white on the inside. I should not have to chose between being Asian or being white. I can be both. And it’s about time that society accepts that. We deserve to be able to embrace all of the different parts of ourselves without feeling bad about it.