My good friend Jocelyn Eikenburg over at Speaking of China has put up a blog post that’s got my mind whirling.
In “Justifying Cross-Cultural Love By Hating On Others?”, Jocelyn highlights comments by Chinese and Western men that denigrate women of their own races in order to justify the cross-cultural relationship choices they’ve made. For example, the Chinese man says Chinese women are vain, demanding, don’t care about love and family on a spiritual level; the Western man says Western women are unpleasant, demanding, not serious about love and marriage. When read together, there’s something almost comic about their comments, about how over-generalized they are. People see in others the characteristics they want to see.
Unfortunately, it’s not just a certain subset of men in cross-cultural relationships that think this way, as I painfully learned. Back when I was an interracial relationship blogger, I got a fair amount of hate mail that was based on the assumption that I hated men of my own race. I didn’t get it. My father is Chinese. My brother is Chinese. My cousins are Chinese, my best friend in Shanghai is a Chinese guy. So why in the world would I hate Chinese men? I reread my blog posts, obsessively correcting anything — any adjective, any joke — that might cause this assumption, until I realized that these readers were reacting more to a set idea of me (“evil Asian woman with white man”) than who I really am. Because once I started venturing into the Internet, I realized there is a subset of Asian women who denigrate men of their own races in order to justify their interracial dating choices. And sometimes, because of how provoking and vehement they are, these sorts of voices are all we hear.
I tried to present a different voice, but in the end I stopped blogging about cross-cultural relationships because I needed to distance myself from that hate. It seemed like I couldn’t talk to people about these relationships without someone saying “Yeah, [insert race] men/women are so much better than [insert race] men/women.” I started shutting off when I heard that, refusing to continue the conversation. It’s hard to change those minds, and that mindset only harms the acceptance of cross-cultural love — instead of promoting the idea that love is colorblind, comments like that show the speaker’s love is color-specific, and so is their hate.
To those who treasure your cross-cultural relationships, yet so easily snipe at the people you come from — think of your children. They will be half of you. A Chinese woman may very well have a half-Chinese son, a white man a half-white daughter, a Chinese man a half-Chinese daughter, a white woman a half-white son. You will be present in your child, in their blood, in their appearances. Are you going to teach your children to hate an intrinsic part of themselves? To grow up angry and conflicted because their parents hate what they have passed on? Is that the legacy of your cross-cultural relationship?
I know I’m emotional today. I know I’m reacting so strongly to Jocelyn’s post because it ended with a comment about the children of cross-cultural relationships. I still mourn the child I might have had, the half-Chinese, half-Jewish Dragon Baby who would have been one year old tomorrow. I still think about how we would have raised her, about how we would have worked together to bring both cultures into his life. And I wonder, I really wonder, about how anyone would want to bring their child into an environment full of little insults and disdain.
Anyway. Do read Jocelyn’s post, and the comments that follow. Like she says, here’s to a gentler world.