The Bigness of Love

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It’s been one week since the election and my feelings of anger, disappointment, sadness, and hopelessness have emotionally exhausted me. As a female and a person of color, this campaign has felt entirely personal because so much of the hate filled rhetoric was targeted at people who like myself have been marginalized due to my race and gender. Opportunities and entitlements belong only to those who fit into the Trump version of America. If you are labeled different, then you excluded. But I see you. I understand you. I am with you in your anger.

This week was also a difficult teaching week. I took the easy way out and avoided any election discussions with my students because I didn’t have the emotional capacity. How could I remain neutral when all I wanted to do was unleash my own anger and sadness? I wonder what words I would say to my son if he was here and old enough to understand. I’d like to think that I would tell him the truth no matter how hurtful it is, but honestly, I don’t know.

Eventually, I will have to stop grieving and crawl up off the floor. There are small moments when I feel myself moving forward, but then I learn about yet another racial graffiti hate crime or I overhear a student chanting, “Build the wall!” and I’m right back where I started. The truth is that no matter how stifling and confusing the world feels right now, I have to find a way to acceptance. I didn’t choose to elect this president, but I do have choices. I can choose to listen. I can choose to show empathy to others. And I can choose to be inclusive with those who are different from me. Now more than ever I want to stretch myself in the direction of kindness and forgiveness. I choose to be filled with the bigness of love.

The Other

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Growing up, I remember there were two clearly distinct experiences when I felt noticeably different. One time a stranger in a store commented, “Your skin is so porcelain just like a China doll!” Or another time when a stylist cutting my hair declared, “I thought all Asians had straight hair.” Although these comments weren’t malicious, nevertheless, I remember feeling confused that my appearance should be different than what it was.

I know that early on in my son’s life, he will experience feeling different. He is Korean and will grow up as a minority in America. He will more than likely be teased by his classmates because of his eyes, nose, skin color or simply because he doesn’t look white. I struggle knowing that he may internalize this as him being inadequate and feel ashamed. How can I protect him from this? I know that I can’t. It’s entirely impossible.  

As a new parent, maybe I’m naive to think that if I enroll my son in a Korean language immersion school, attend a multiracial church or have playgroups with other Korean adoptees, he will grow up to have a positive self identity. The truth is, that even if I do all of these things to support his connection to his Korean culture, there will still be moments when he will feel conspicuous and compromised because of his race.

I understand that my son doesn’t have a choice. He will leave his Korean culture and gain an American one. These are the losses and gains of being adopted. But maybe throughout his adoption journey, my son will be able to find a new space where he is able to create his own narrative that is completely free from the expectations and definitions of others.