You’ll find your real parents someday.

Alessa Abruzzo
Philadelphia, PA

Biologically I’m Korean. Ethnically I’m Irish-German-Italian. I was adopted at 4.5 months old, at which point I flew from South Korea to the USA and into the loving arms of my parents who happen to be white. To put it plainly, I was raised by white people – My entire immediate family (and most of the extensions) are of European ancestry. I really hate having to go into the Asian enclaves of the city to do certain grocery shopping or go to certain restaurants. Conversations always start with questions. “You [insert East-Asian race here]?” (No to everything but Koreans.) “Oh, you’re Korean! You speak Korean?” (No, I’m adopted and my parents are white.) “Ah, adopted!” And then comes the polite nod, the comforting pat on the shoulder, the smile that’s supposed to tell me that it WILL be alright, even though it’s currently not. “You’ll find your REAL parents someday!” That’s the instant I’m reminded that race, what’s on the outside, is what’s “real.” Ethnicity is learned, culture is a side-effect of being around people. But race is skin-deep, which is as far as most people look at first glance. My parents can’t be real because we don’t look alike. Real is apparently over 6,500 miles away, in the faces of two people I’ve never really met. That’s race for you.

 

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