Gabby Malpas sobre el racismo

El 3 de abril de 2022, un grupo de 19 adoptados internacionales australianos participó en una consulta de ICAV para la Comisión Australiana de Derechos Humanos (AHRC) que ha desarrollado un Papel de conceptos para Marco Nacional Antirracismo. We believe intercountry/transracial adoptees are under represented in race discussions in almost every adoptive country and wanted to make sure we had a say. Gabby’s input below is included in our full papers aquí which we submitted to the AHRC.

por Gabby Malpas, born in New Zealand of Chinese origins and transracial adoptee, ICAV Representative, artist at Gabby Malpas.

Colourblind by Gabby Malpas; watercolour painting

I was born in 1966 in Auckland New Zealand. I am 100% Chinese and at the time of writing, I am 56 years old. I started coming out of the adoption fog at 48 years of age, after meeting my birth mother in 2004. It seems old but to clarify, at 48, I finally connected with other Asian adoptees and found validation, support and the language to express my feelings around my life experience.

I have a huge respect for parents. I am a step parent but have not done the heavy lifting that parents do. It’s hard being a parent. Throw adoption or fostering into the mix and that becomes very hard. Throw transracial adoption into that mix and the challenges become even more so. These are my thoughts around racism. All of our experiences are different.

I am very happy. I see the value of good relationships with friends, peers and family, and acknowledge that all of us have experienced trauma at some point in our lives. However, I have struggled with racism my entire life with my difference pointed out almost daily by classmates, co-workers and friends. Not too regularly, I have also been attacked and harassed on the street and was bullied badly throughout my school years.  Jokes and micro-aggressions seem harmless and it took me decades to understand why I was constantly angry: an innocent question about my name/my origins/my nationality seems innocuous, but day after day, often from complete strangers makes a person exhausted, wary and sad/angry. I often withdraw.

I have this to say – I could not tell you this at age 12, 18, 25, 30 or even 40. It took decades to begin to process, understand and articulate what I am feeling.

Dear adoptive parents

Here is what I would like you to know about my life experience as a transracial adoptee:

  • Please understand my life experience is, was and will always be different to that of my white peers, siblings and parents. Like it or not, quite often we transracial adoptees are treated very differently to our white siblings and peers. I noted a big change in people’s behaviour towards me when they saw one of my parents come into view. Racists are sneaky – they are not going to say stuff with you around. And it comes in many subtle forms: how many brown kids are watched like a hawk as soon as they enter a store? How many brown girls are told they talk too much or are too loud/naughty when their white classmates are termed ‘enthusiastic’ or ‘confident’ for the same behaviour?
  • I was raised colourblind. It was the 60s, 70s and 80s. We knew no better. I was 55 years old when the penny finally dropped about my own family’s response to my experience with racism. An older sister said, “But we just assumed you were one of us,” (therefore, it was impossible for you to experience racism). Another piece of the puzzle solved. However, my 7 year old me would not thank my family for the dismissal, harsh words or outright denial that anything had taken place. Things are different now. We have resources and so much information available.
  • If you are triggered by the terms: white privilege, white fragility and wilful ignorance then think long and hard before adopting a child of different race to you. We are looking to you to teach us, to have our backs and stand up for us. And this includes your circle of friends, your own family and peers. I was raised in the age where children were seen and not heard. I accepted outright racist comments/acts from neighbours, friends, extended family, and later, colleagues because I felt that it was my lot or I was undeserving of better. But think about what that does to someone over a lifetime! Is it any wonder that we adoptees are 4 times more likely to have substance abuse or suicide? Let’s try to change that.
Ching Chong by Gabby Malpas, watercolour painting
  • Believe us. I was 5 or 6 years old when I reported my first racist incident to my parents (and this was because I was scared. I didn’t report the ‘ching chong’ chants, the pulling back of eyes and harsher treatment by certain nuns because I was brown and clearly born of sin – those were a daily occurrence). Two much larger and older boys cornered me and pulled down my pants to see if ‘my bum was the same as the other girls’. Horrific and it still haunts me to this day. In response to sharing what happened, I was punished and told not to lie. So I stopped. It was clearly not safe for me to speak up and I didn’t want to be punished for it (to be fair I think it was the mention of private parts that had them more outraged). I left NZ for good in 1988. I put distance between myself and my family because of the above and some bonds were sadly broken for a while. Do you want this for your own family? If your children do not trust you to have their back they may be reticent to report more serious stuff like abuse, bullying and even date rape/domestic violence.
  • Just because we don’t tell you doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I finally found the courage to speak up in the last two years. I cut friends, extended family members and suppliers for my own mental health and sanity but also I finally understood that I didn’t have to engage with such people.
  • Words hurt. And the hurt lasts a lifetime. So those jokes you make about other races — their food, shopping habits, hoarding, driving skills … all those lazy stereotypes that the Australian media like to peddle – well, your kids are listening.  When we see racist incidents reported be dismissed or downplayed by the media (especially if it is a footy star/ celebrity accused), how do you think that makes us feel?  We don’t need to hear:
    ‘They weren’t racist to me – are you sure it happened?’
    ‘What did you do to make them act in this way?’
    ‘Rise above it!’
    ‘Ignore it!”
    ‘Can’t you take a joke?’
    ‘I’m sure Xxxx didn’t mean to be offensive…’
    This ain’t it. Do better.
  • Quite often we are rejected by our own race – we are seen as ‘too white’, too culturally ignorant, and our names are white. This can be very confronting.
    We grow up, study, work and socialise generally in white spaces. We adapt to our environments to fit in but can be treated very harshly by our own race because of this.  A heritage camp and trip once a year can’t help with this and if we are living in a white country – it is understandable that we just want to fit in/fade into the background like everyone else. But we can’t. Don’t shame us for trying to survive in our own environments.
  • Racism is hard to process when the perpetrator looks like a member of your own family. An Asian child who grows up with their own cultural background watches how their parents react and behave when they are faced with racist incidents. They see how their parents behave and speak to the offender. Nothing may be said but there is a shared experience within the family and younger members can learn from their elders – and even grow up to challenge passive responses.

Check out Gabby’s amazing Art Mentoring that she does as a volunteer with younger Chinese adoptees.

Racismo en la Adopción Internacional

¡No puedo creer que en los 24 años de funcionamiento de ICAV, no haya hecho UN artículo que reúna nuestra experiencia vivida del racismo como adoptados internacionales y transraciales! Bueno, ¡finalmente he abordado esto! Hace mucho tiempo que tenía que hacerlo y tuve el ímpetu de hacerlo gracias al trabajo en Australia de nuestra Comisión de Derechos Humanos para crear un concepto Marco Nacional Antirracismo papel. Me quedé impactado cuando leí el documento y me di cuenta de que nuestro grupo minoritario ni siquiera recibe una mención como uno de los grupos objetivo de la consulta. Quería hacer algo al respecto, dar visibilidad a nuestra comunidad que durante mucho tiempo ha compartido sobre el racismo y sus impactos en nuestro foro privado exclusivo para adoptados. De las muchas conversaciones que he tenido con otros adoptados en todo el mundo, el racismo es uno de los principales problemas que enfrentamos, pero apenas se menciona en la mayoría de la literatura, investigación, política, práctica o educación sobre adopción. En ICAV nuestro objetivo es crear conciencia sobre el racismo y la intersección con la adopción internacional y transracial.

Aquí está el envío que elaboramos para la Comisión Australiana de Derechos Humanos y aquí hay un documento complementario, nuestro último documento de perspectiva de ICAV: Experiencia vivida del racismo en la adopción internacional. Nuestro documento proporciona una recopilación de información sobre experiencias vividas para ayudar a educar sobre nuestra experiencia del racismo. También incluimos en nuestras respuestas lo que sugerimos que se haga para apoyar mejor a los adoptados internacionales y transraciales.

Para brindar más apoyo y educación a profesionales y familias adoptivas, el próximo mes, el martes 17 de mayo a las 2 p. m. AEST, ICAV organizará un seminario web El racismo experimentado por los adoptados entre países para traerte las voces y experiencias en persona. Si desea asistir, puede contacto ICAV para que podamos mantenerlo informado.

Junto con nuestro documento de perspectiva y el próximo seminario web, espero que estos recursos ayuden a comenzar/continuar las conversaciones sobre el racismo en la adopción internacional.

Sue-Yen Bylund sobre el racismo

El 3 de abril de 2022, un grupo de 19 adoptados internacionales australianos participó en una consulta de ICAV para la Comisión Australiana de Derechos Humanos (AHRC) que ha desarrollado un Papel de conceptos para Marco Nacional Antirracismo. Creemos que los adoptados interpaíses/transraciales están subrepresentados en las discusiones raciales en casi todos los países adoptivos y queríamos asegurarnos de que tuviéramos algo que decir. Los próximos blogs serán una selección de los aportes de los adoptados que participaron para brindar una visión más matizada de nuestra experiencia vivida del racismo y nuestros pensamientos sobre lo que se debe hacer para apoyarnos mejor.

por Sue-Yen Bylund, adopted from Vietnam to Australia, ICAV VIC Representative

Racism is here to stay. It is enmeshed in the very fabric of society, at every level. It manifests within us as individuals, at a systemic level pervading our policies and practices, reflected in our interpersonal behaviours and is accumulated and compounded in the base structures of our history, culture and ideology.

In order to mitigate the harm caused by racism we must be actively anti-racist. It is not enough to merely be “not racist”, as this, often results in a passive racism, which is as equally toxic as overt racism. Tolerance is a poor substitute for acceptance. Tolerance offers tokenism and indifference. Acceptance offers a place for all voices, a public validation as individuals and a genuine place at the table to self-determination.

Every person carries their racial biases differently. Acknowledgment of these biases on a personal individual level is important, however being open to listening, validating and accepting the experiences of others takes courage. 

My expectation within this forum, is to offer to an opportunity to broaden the discussion of anti-racism to embrace all forms and manifestations of racism within Australian society today. To offer encouragement to address the complex “grey” zones of racism. Through this broadening a more mature collective and inclusive voice will evolve, which I believe Australia is ready to share with the world.

The foundations of my identity lie amongst the chaos of war time Vietnam 1974. Within the first 3 weeks of my life, I experienced my initiation into the full audio and aromatic reality of war, surrounded by screaming and traumatised children and adults. Racial identity did not protect any of us from the horrors, what we all absorbed would remain forever with us as visceral burdens to tame. War and terror are the greatest levellers in stripping even the bravest to the very foundations of humanity. And then in one swift spin of the planet I would find myself a world away in the eerie quiet and calmness of Perth, Western Australia. This journey would also mark the beginning of a life’s self-education of racial fluidity. Being one heart and soul, but a chameleon of racial identities. Born of one culture, raised in another, looking as though I belong to one group, but in at my core, I belong to another, the duplicity and fluidity is complex and exhausting.

The need to feel safe, accepted, understood and validated seems to be a naturally human pursuit. As an intercountry adoptee the journey is complex and confusing. We slip into the cracks of racial stereotypes offering up apologetically a reason for inclusion or explanation for exclusion. Either way no matter where we are in our communities we are an anomaly. We are constantly offered up as a reminder that a book shouldn’t be judged by its cover and if you care to listen carefully, you will hear the simple request for safety and acceptance.

My childhood cultural identity was shaped through the lens of middle class suburban 1970’s Australia. It was fortunate that the primary school I went to attracted a good proportion of Asian immigrant families. This enabled me, at a young age to observe the “other” type of Asian. The Asian person who spoke the language, ate the food, complied with the Asian cultural norms, while they themselves were carving out the unique existence in post “White Australia Policy” era. It was clear to me from the very beginning that I was an “Asian variant”. I was to experience racial prejudice from all sides. My immediate family comprised of a white Australian adoptive mother, a white Dutch (first generation migrant) adoptive father and their two biological white sons. Straddling my home and school environments I began to acknowledge the fragmented racial identity which was uniquely mine.

I would learn to instinctively navigate the pros and cons of racial profiling expressed by adults and classmates. At times it afforded me a shield to hide behind, at other times it just bewildered me at how ignorant and entitled people could be. 

Teachers would regard me with the marginalising stereotype of female Asian student, this meant that no matter what I did, or didn’t do, I was considered polite, conscientious and studious. This enabled me to glide through my studies relatively smoothly. Where this backfired was when I would be herded together with all the Asian “look-a-likes” to be given special instructions in Chinese/Cambodian/Vietnamese. There were always a few of us that would simply shrug our shoulders, knowing it was too hard to explain to the teachers that English was in fact our only language. 

Classmate interactions were more complex. While they seemed to want to flex their insecurities through bullying behaviours, I suspect they would often leave these bullying interactions more confused and with increased insecurities about themselves. They would corner me and spit out racial slurs “Ching Chong!”, “Go back to where you came from!”, “Asians out!” with the standard accompanying slanted eye gesture. I learnt very early to lean into the bullying. To not turn away in shame or embarrassment, I summoned the  airs of entitlement I learnt from my white Australian family. It was an educational opportunity. I would not show weakness. So armed with a vocabulary not generally associated with a small Asian female of 11 years I would lean in and say with a perfect Aussie twang, “Get f***ed you immature ignorant bigot!” While they processed the response in stunned silence, I was already half down the hall or across the oval. When I think back to those times, I know in my heart I still hold a deep resentment toward those who racially vilified me. The fact I could still name those individuals today shows how deeply it affected me. I built a wall to protect myself, a tough persona that would later in life be softened with self-depreciating humour. 

Humour has become one of the most powerful tools for disarming awkwardness though it should be noted that humour can only be genuinely offered by me (the vilified) otherwise it can have the effect of adding insult or increasing alienation.

Australian society in general is getting better at navigating racially blended families. However, there have been times where an awkward visual double take or racial slur has been reconsidered once formal introductions have concluded. 

For example, my adoptive mother is the personified “white saviour” heroine and therefore in this narrative, I embody the role of a grateful saved soul. There is no place in this narrative version for reality and it only serves to perpetuate the stereotypes. This distilled classification of our relationship as an adoptive mother and daughter has resulted in a chasm of empathy where my experience of racial prejudice and marginalisation cannot be reconciled with my adoptive mother’s version of my lived experience. She cannot/will not acknowledge that I have/do experience any racial prejudice. It’s unfathomable and therefore remains a taboo subject between us. I would suggest a classic case of “colour blindness” which is the most common manifestation of passive racism. Let me strongly suggest that racial “colour blindness” is not a positive construct to build a relationship in. I don’t advocate for a monochrome world. It cancels out important conversations that need to be had to build empathy and understanding. It bypasses the integral act of individual and collective validation.

A typical interaction in a social setting with my white husband, would start with a few awkward glances while people assessed my proficiency in English. Once the conversation has warmed up a little, the question is always asked “How did you two meet each other?” At this point all newbies begin listening in the hope to hear some spectacular Tinder dating app story with me gaining Australian citizenship when we married. Sad to say the story takes an epic sad tone when it is revealed I was a baby from the Viet Nam war. The conversation moves very quickly from one set of stereotypes to another. The chameleon game is afoot. We have now moved into the Viet Nam war genre and to be honest the racial stereotypes are just as nauseating. As the conversation peters out, I am left with a very uncomfortable feeling that I might be the daughter of a B-Grade war romance story of a soldier and prostitute but on the positive side, I have ruled out that I am a “mail order bride” from Asia desperate to get my claws into a rich white “sugar daddy”. Either way, I always leave these gatherings feeling like I have shared way too much about myself, simply to justify my equal status at the table of white Australians. Needless to say, it’s exhausting and incredibly invasive. At times my inner evil chameleon just wants to re-enforce the stereotypes rather than use my life as an education case study. In the end I see curiosity is better than fear and putting examples forward and building knowledge is a slow continuous but necessary journey.

With regards to my children, I am conscious that they physically are racially ambiguous. They could have genetic origins from various backgrounds, but once I stand next to them then it becomes evident their dark features come from me and they are of Asian origins. My daughter has experienced racial slurs from having an Asian looking mother. It wasn’t until she spent her gap year in Viet Nam that she developed her own understanding of her origins. She has in fact spent more time in Viet Nam than me. 

School parent social groups are an interesting micro society and navigating them is a full-time job. In the private school my children attended I had two very distinct social groups that I interacted with. One was a group of Asian looking mothers where I felt like an honouree member. I learnt Asian cultural things and etiquette that I didn’t get elsewhere. I did a lot of listening. The other group were all Anglo-Saxon looking mothers and I was dubbed the “token” Asian (humorous chameleon!) These girlfriends understood how I saw the world. It’s in these situations that I reflect on the sophistication of my chameleon gift and in a positive moment reflect on the bridges I can construct between the groups just through listening and sharing.

There is a niche and powerful position that intercountry adoptees have in the conversation around racism and prejudice. It’s borne from the hybrid and fluid nature of our self-identities. We exist in the space between cultures and races. The triumphal story of our survival is in fact a narrative of weaving together of cultures, racial identity, tolerance and acceptance. Intercountry adoptees must reconcile the disparity between the physical and internal nature of racial identity, because at every turn we are challenging the stereotypes and presumptions. As an Asian in white Australia, we challenge the mainstream colonial stereotypes, as an Asian in Asia, we find ourselves challenging the long-held stereotypes in our birth culture. We belong to both yet neither wholly. 

If I was to consider the future of racism in context of Australia, I would continue to raise the challenge to government and individuals to embrace the complexity. Find the words, create the platforms, lead with optimism. Systemic racism embedded in the policies and practices by government and institutions needs to be constantly questioned and reviewed to ensure it leads in activating change. Structural racism that unpins mainstream think-tanks needs to be shaken loose. It is an uncomfortable and confronting task, but I believe Australia is mature enough to take this task on. Interpersonal racism is very difficult to navigate as an intercountry adoptee, but the freedom to express an alternate reality from the stereotypes is a good platform to build upon. Internalised racism is insipid and so very damaging. We want to move from passive tolerance to active validation of individuals. 

Ongoing political bi-partisan support for research and consultation is an essential investment to engage in effective societal change. A firm commitment to reviewing and evaluating key milestones is required for accountability and integrity.  Educational resources coupled with public awareness and youth engagement are core to developing a more mature future for all Australians.

For more from Sue-Yen, read her Reflexiones del día de ANZAC, her contribution to ¿Lo que hay en un nombre? and advocacy with Reunión de senadores de Green.


Lea la pequeña colación de ICAV en Daltonismo en adopción

Gabbie Beckley sobre el racismo

El 3 de abril de 2022, un grupo de 19 adoptados internacionales australianos participó en una consulta de ICAV para la Comisión Australiana de Derechos Humanos (AHRC) que ha desarrollado un Papel de conceptos para Marco Nacional Antirracismo. Creemos que los adoptados interpaíses/transraciales están subrepresentados en las discusiones raciales en casi todos los países adoptivos y queríamos asegurarnos de que tuviéramos algo que decir. Los próximos blogs serán una selección de los aportes de los adoptados que participaron para brindar una visión más matizada de nuestra experiencia vivida del racismo y nuestros pensamientos sobre lo que se debe hacer para apoyarnos mejor.

por Gabbie Beckley, adoptado de Sri Lanka a Australia, trabajador social clínico.

Hablar contra el racismo es responsabilidad de todos

He experimentado muchas y variadas formas de racismo en mis 40 años de vivir, caminar y respirar en este mundo. Me ha impactado de muchas maneras, ¿cómo las escribo todas? Crecí navegando por este mundo blanqueado como una orgullosa mujer de color, sin embargo, estar orgullosa de quién soy y en lo que me he convertido en mi vida no se excluyen mutuamente. Ha sido necesario mucho trabajo duro, examen de conciencia y reflexión consciente muchas veces para convertirme en la persona más evolucionada que soy hasta la fecha, y estoy en constante trabajo en progreso.

Tengo muchas historias familiares de racismo, las cuales ahora se pueden ver por lo que fueron, en el tiempo y el lugar y el contexto generacional del hablante, no un reflejo de mi familia como un todo.

Uno de los primeros recuerdos que tengo es que me dijeron que un miembro de mi familia dijo: “¡Ningún niño negro llevará mi nombre!”. Pero una vez que me pusieron en los brazos de un miembro de mi familia, todas las tonterías racistas se desvanecieron y me trataron como a todos los demás. Mientras crecía, a mi vez sentía un gran amor y respeto por esta persona, perdoné su ignorancia y me concentré en nuestro amor compartido por el cricket y el fútbol.

He tenido experiencias durante mis años de escuela primaria que aún recuerdo como si fuera ayer. Ser pateado en las espinillas por engreírme, por involucrarme en altercados físicos con matones racistas. Por tener maestros que me dicen: “Me da vergüenza ser del mismo país que tú”.

Me han llamado la palabra N más veces de las que puedo contar. He experimentado racismo abierto, encubierto, intencional y no intencional a lo largo de mi vida. La policía me ha perfilado racialmente, los guardias de seguridad me han seguido en los centros comerciales.

He trabajado en lugares de trabajo donde la gente me ha dicho "de dónde eres" y qué hay de tus "verdaderos padres". Algunas personas me han dicho: "Tu inglés es tan bueno para alguien que no nació aquí". He tenido un jefe que no me habló durante meses debido a algo que percibió que había hecho mal. Pero no era el caso, solo era un gilipollas racista y estaba tan contenta de dejar ese lugar de trabajo y entrar en el lugar de trabajo de mis sueños.

 No he tenido oportunidades para avanzar en mi carrera debido a las actitudes, resentimientos y celos mezquinos de la gente, lo que realmente se reduce a que no queremos trabajar para una persona de color.

He sido subestimado, descartado, infravalorado y no visto en toda mi vida, por lo que probablemente me atraiga el trabajo social y la lucha por los desvalidos y tratar de desmantelar las desigualdades estructurales que siguen tan arraigadas en nuestra sociedad.

Soy un luchador, soy un guerrero de la justicia social, creo firmemente en el poder de hacer una diferencia y un impacto positivo en las acciones de las personas, creo en la amabilidad y en dar a las personas una oportunidad justa.

¿Cómo me ha impactado esto? Pues me considero una persona que piensa y reflexiona profundamente sobre mis acciones y decisiones. He tenido la conversación de "qué hacer si te detiene la policía" con mis hijos, a raíz de los asesinatos bien publicados de George Floyd, Tamar Rice, Brianna Taylor, y sin olvidar la trágica historia de nuestras primeras naciones. pueblos con la mayor tasa de encarcelamiento de jóvenes y todas las muertes negras bajo custodia en las que nadie es ni ha sido responsable. Estoy triste, estoy enojado, estoy consternado porque este es el estado actual en el que vivimos mis hijos y yo. Sin embargo, tengo esperanza, esperanza de que podamos construir una comunidad que genere cambios, para trabajar con como- personas con mentalidad que comparten mi pasión e impulso por un cambio positivo.

Mis experiencias de racismo han dado forma a la persona que soy, el padre que soy y el trabajador social que soy. Impacta en mis pensamientos, acciones y obras. Soy consciente de cómo me ve la gente, soy respetuoso frente a los cerdos racistas y me niego a que me rebajen a su nivel. Creo que ha tenido un impacto en mi salud mental cuando era más joven, me causó muchas dudas y la búsqueda de mi lugar en este mundo.

Creo que una de mis gracias salvadoras ha sido la reconexión con mi familia biológica y mi cultura. ¡Conocerlos es conocerme a mí mismo! He pasado los últimos 22 años conociendo, creciendo y amando a mi familia y agradezco cada día que me siento en una posición única donde soy parte de dos mundos y puedo sentarme cómodamente en ambos. 

¿Qué sugeriría que se hiciera para abordar mejor el racismo experimentado por los adoptados entre países o transraciales?

Creo que la adopción no tiene que ser el primer recurso. Creo que mantener unida a la familia en sus países de origen con apoyo a través del patrocinio/educación/actividades generadoras de ingresos sería beneficioso para los adoptados en general, pero específicamente en términos de su salud mental y conexión con sus raíces y culturas. Si las adopciones tienen que ocurrir, ¡es imperativo mantener una relación con la familia! Esto incluye a los padres biológicos, tías, tíos, primos, abuelos y hermanos.

Debe haber un mayor énfasis en los pensamientos y sentimientos del adoptante en relación con la adopción de un niño de color. Sumérjase en su historia y experiencias, haga que tomen cursos anuales sobre el impacto del racismo y cómo ser un aliado/defensor del racismo. Pídales que miren sus círculos de amistad, ¿es diverso? ¿Representa una amplia gama de personas culturalmente apropiadas, socioeconómicas y de género diverso?

Creo que deberíamos tratar de compartir colectivamente nuestras historias y experiencias, con la esperanza de que un gran conocimiento conlleva una gran responsabilidad, ¡y eso es asunto de todos!

Para obtener más información de Gabbie, lea su artículo compartido hace años e incluido en nuestro Investigar página: Derechos humanos y justicia social en la adopción internacional