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Race & Adoption Part 2: Microaggressions

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Microaggressions, or the intentional or unintentional casual slurs, remarks, actions that communicate a negative or derogatory stereotype or belief about an individual or group, can leave a lasting imprint. For adoptees most already experience microaggressions based on their adoption status alone, but what about when you are transracially adopted, LGBTQ, identify with special needs, or a religious minority?

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Race & Adoption Part 2: Microaggressions

  1. 1. 11/18/2018 1 What just happened? : Microaggressions Part 2 MELANIE CHUNG-SHERMAN, LCSW, PLLC. & CONNECT-A-KID Disclaimer: Recommended for audiences 13+years Some of the things that we will talk about today people may find concerning, doubtful, or it may be upsetting. If that appliesto you, consider why you might be feeling uncomfortable. Positive and constructivefeedback is welcomed. This workshop is centered on the voices of marginalized groups, with the understanding that all voices must be respected. Lived experiences must be respected. Topics can be very emotional for many people. Considera new pointof viewand respectthe experiencesof those who are often dismissedby society. This workshop may not fit every family or situation, and can be used as a guide to help you as a professional and community member. This is not meantto bash our whitefriends and loved ones, but discuss openly the impacts of oppression,bullying, and microaggressions. Objectives Determine Determine what to do in the face of racial othering and bullying Define Define the connection between microaggressions and bullying Identify Identify how everyday racism shows up
  2. 2. 11/18/2018 2 Everyday Racism is Exhausting. R E SEARCHERS C O N T I NUE T O V A LID AT E T H E L I N KS B E T W EEN F R I GHT EN I NG, U N P RED I CTA BLE E V EN TS I N C H I LD HOOD —BEFORE T H EI R B R A I NS A R E F U LLY D E V ELOP ED. B EF ORE W O RD S T O E X P RESS W H AT I S H A P PENI NG T O T H EM . It is not in your head. You are not alone. Microaggressions “RAC I A L M I C RO AG G RES S I O N S A RE BRI EF A N D C O M M O N P LAC E D A I LY V ERBA L, BEHAV I O RA L, O R EN V I RO N M EN TA L I N D I G N I T I ES , W HET HER I N T EN T I O N A L O R U N I N T EN T I O N A L, T HAT C O M M U N I C AT E HO S T I LE, D ERO G ATO RY, O R N EG AT I V E RAC I A L S LI G HT S A N D I N S U LT S TO WA RD P EO P LE O F C O LO R.” - “RA CI A L M I CROA G G RESSI ON S I N EV ERY D AY LI F E”
  3. 3. 11/18/2018 3 What are types of microaggressions? Microassaults: Conscious and intentional actions or slurs, such as using racial epithets, displaying swastikas or deliberately serving a white person before a person of color in a restaurant (Active Discrimination). Microinsults: Verbal and nonverbal communications that subtly convey rudeness and insensitivity and demean a person's racial heritage or identity. An example is an employee who asks a colleague of color how she got her job, implying she may have landed it through an affirmative action or quota system. Microinvalidations: Communications that subtly exclude, negate or nullify the thoughts, feelings or experiential reality of a person of color. For instance, white people often ask Asian-Americans where they were born, conveying the message that they are perpetual foreigners in their own land. American Psychological Association (2018): https://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.aspx Familiesof Color (Pudasainee-Kapri&Razza,2015) Multi-generational Multi-caregivers who fulfill different, yet cohesivefunctions Extended family and kinship roles (chosen family) Recruitment of community members Racial/cultural mirrors Racial Socialization Transracialadoption experience must expand into communities of color Microaggressions: What experiences come to mind?
  4. 4. 11/18/2018 4 Racial Appropriation •Adoption of an “idea” of a culture, ideas, or practices by the dominant culture •Why would this be harmful? •The privilegeto take another’s personal culture without consent •We tend to commodify racial understanding such as food, clothing, language,and art, but absent to relationship. Why are these images problematic? LESS THAN 1% OF ENTERTAINMENT ROLES GO TO ASIANS Common Asian Stereotypes
  5. 5. 11/18/2018 5 Model Minority Myth: Why is this Troublesome? Generalizes an entire group of people based solely on race Not seen as individual Perceived as “white enough” Erases unique aspects of Asian adoptees Used as wedge against other races (roots in white supremacy) Perpetuates racial stereotypes and oppression Silences individual experiences Invisibiliizes other Asian Americans Overt Racial Aggressions Bamboo Ceiling •Asian/Pacific American (APAs) underrepresented in leadership roles across the board (education, executive, medical, social work, legal, etc). •APAs work longer hours and harder work to obtain advancement •Few role models to guide and learn from • Who are the POCs in your life who have been accessible role models?
  6. 6. 11/18/2018 6 Dangerous Stereotypes •Racial and Sexual Objectification of Asian Women and Men •Begins at young age •Risk of sexual assault, stalking, harassment, abuse, and rape— regardless of sexual/gender identity—including adopt family •Stereotype of sexualized, passive, tight, small, and object •Parents, educators, and caregivers must be aware and proactive Demasculinization of Asian Men • 1929—Fu Manchu depicted as racial/sexual scourge in America •Dehumanized Asian Men—animal characteristics, dangerous, and unable to satisfy white women •Harms self-esteem, identity, and persona—not considered for competitive sports, dating/partnership, workforce •Seen as less desirable, non-sexual, and measured by Western concept of masculinity •Creates paradox for Asian men—not to be seen objectively beyond race, but for who they are (similiar to Asian women) Impacts on Transracial Adoptees Anxiety/Depression Stress Lower self esteem Hypervigilance Self-Doubt Difficulty trusting Inferior beliefs Learning Challenges Behavioral Issues Suicidal Thoughts/Attempts Self-Harm "Are you sure that really happened?" Authority (parent/caregiver, teacher, law enforcement) does not believe Secondary Victimization from those who are supposed to protect Engagement decreases (Self dout and anxiety kept to self) Nothing happens and status quo maintained (Sense of abandonment/helplessness)
  7. 7. 11/18/2018 7 Paradox of Microaggressions W H EN ADO P TEES O F CO LO R SP EAK UP, I T CAN CREATE A PARADOX BECAUSE TH E EX P ERI ENCE I S USUALLY DENI ED—TH AT CAN CREATE A SENSE O F ANGER, H URT, CO NFUSI O N, AND SECO ND - GUESSI NG. Intent vs. Impact
  8. 8. 11/18/2018 8 What happens when we add adoption? Statements Commonly Heard in by Asian Adoptees (Yes, these are true). You are my China doll. Your skin is porcelain. Do you mind if I touch your hair? How much did you cost? I bet your birth mother was beautiful. We adopted from Asia because we could not adopt a white baby—and our family would never approve of a black/brownchild. I wanta child with lightskin and those “Orientaleyes.” He must be really smart. Where is her accent?
  9. 9. 11/18/2018 9 Impacts of Tokenism Tokenism is not Diversity • The policy or practice of making only a symbolic effort (as to desegregate). (Mirriam-Webster, 2018). • Asking/hiring/or requesting a member from an underrepresented group to speak, identify, or represent the appearance of inclusion and diversity for their entire group • Common-place for TRAs (most may be only or one of a few POC in their family, community, place of worship, and beyond)—representing multiple identities such as race, adoption, LBTQ, special needs, etc. • Places undue burden on person to positively perform, adapt, and navigate as the “only one.” • Can feel isolating, confusing, stressful, and, at times empowering (so long as they do not create tension or challenge the status quo) • Often found in adoption communities, placing agencies, conferences (“tell me your story” panels), work place and beyond •Does not add nuanced ideas, perspectives, or change.
  10. 10. 11/18/2018 10 Experiences of TRA’s “A milliontiny cuts...” Stepping out the door is a different experience for POCs: ◦ Mentally and emotionally preparing to be out in public with a family who does not look like them. ◦ Anxiety may also be tied to racial awareness—triggering body memory related to past trauma It is one thing to be the parent of a child of color—it is another to be the child of color in a White world. Systematic microaggressions are not always appropriated by complete strangers, but by family members and friends. Racialized experiences can be traumatic--unpredictable How TRAs Cope Silences self and others (in effort to uphold status quo) Halts ability to empathize with other marginalized groups Stunts development as POC & racial awareness at behest of white dominance (unconsciously) Idealizes portions of adoption narrative that frames white saviorism as only good Limits actively engaging communities of color and identity work Exploring Bullying VERBAL INSULTS THREATS OF VIOLENCE EXCLUSION
  11. 11. 11/18/2018 11 Types of Bullying Racial Stats on Classroom Bullying Signs of Bullying (https://www.stopbullying.gov/) Unexplainable injuries Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch. Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
  12. 12. 11/18/2018 12 Signs of a Bully (https://www.stopbullying.gov/at- risk/warning-signs/index.html) Get into physical or verbal fights Have friends who bully others Are increasingly aggressive Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently Have unexplained extra money or new belongings Blame others for their problems Don’t accept responsibility for their actions Gaslight—questions the victim’s reality Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity Emotional Cost of Bullying Depression Anxiety Self-Hate Isolation Mistrust Suicidal Thoughts/Attempts Self-Harm(cutting, skin picking, pulling hair, etc.) Lack of Self-Confidence Pain of Rejection/Abandonment by Peers, Friends, and Loved Ones Know the Cycle…It can happen to anyone.
  13. 13. 11/18/2018 13 What to Say: “I’m so sorry that happened to you.” “I believe you.” “It is not your fault.” “That took a lot of courage to tell me.” “You are not alone.” “What do you want to share? I’ll listen to you.” “Do you want me to offer advice or just listen?” “Who have you told?” https://www.rainn.org/articles/tips-talking-survivors-sexual- assault What to avoid? Asking what the other person did first (“So what did they really say/do first?”) Deflecting to another positive quality (“They just want your skin color.”) Generalizing (“That happened to me at your age.”) Minimizing (“It wasn’t as if they called you a __________.”) Suggesting they are “too sensitive” Avoid defensive remarks (“We are a colorblind family”) Benefit-of-the-Doubting (“Just give them the BOD. I’m sure they didn’t mean to.”) Offering solution before they are ready. Do not promise secrecy. Ever. Did you know? •When an abusive, scary, or unpredictable event happens to someone, the way the first person handles their telling will set the stage regarding if they tell anyone else or not. •Those who are believed and felt listened to after they shared are 10X more likely to share again AND seek help. •Get the facts on the law and protections (Title IX) •This cannot be minimized. •Seek professional consult and assistance immediately with person.
  14. 14. 11/18/2018 14 Helping Adoptees of Color Navigate (Nadal, 2018) Ask what happened by providing safe environment Affirm the experience in their words without interruption Recognize how your essence may impact their telling—and name it Imagine what they would have liked to see things play out differently (not what they could have done differently) What steps would they like to take next? Create a safety plan for them to come to you. Create an action plan for social justice in your home, school, and org.
  15. 15. 11/18/2018 15 Creating Safe Spaces •Adoptee community, particularly transracial adoptees, are empowered to create spaces and use their voice •Need to be led by transracial adoptees for adoptees (those trained and vetted by orgs) •Mixing white and transracial adoptees will change purpose of space •Intentional, open, and fluid References Brown, C. L., Love, K. M., Tyler, K. M., Garriot, P. O., Thomas, D., & Roan-Belle, C. (2013). Parental Attachment, Family Communalism, and Racial Identity Among African American College Students. Journal Of Multicultural Counseling & Development, 41(2), 108-122. Carter, N. M., & Pérez, E. O. (2016).Race and Nation: How Racial Hierarchy Shapes National Attachments. Political Psychology,37(4), 497-513. Iwamoto, D. K., Negi, N. J., Partiali, R. N., & Creswell, J. W. (2013).The Racial and Ethnic Identity Formation Process of Second-Generation Asian Indian Americans: A Phenomenological Study. Journal Of Multicultural Counseling & Development, 41(4),224- 239. Lucas, T., Woerner, J., Pierce, J., Granger, D. A., Lin, J., Epel, E. S., . . . Lumley, M. A. (2018). Justice for all? beliefs about justice for self and others and telomere length in african americans. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.collin.edu/10.1037/cdp0000212 Malott, K. M., Paone, T. R., Schaefle, S., Cates, J., & Haizlip,B. (2015).Expanding White Racial Identity Theory: A Qualitative Investigation of Whites Engaged in Antiracist Action. Journal Of Counseling & Development, 93(3),333-343. Nadal, K. L. (2018). Microaggressions and traumaticstress: Theory, research, and clinical treatment. American Psychological Association: Washington, D.C. References Perkins, R. M. (2014).Race, Gender & Class, Vol. 21, No. 1/2, Race, Gender & Class 2013 Conference, pp. 211-219 Pudasainee-Kapri, S., & Razza, R. (2015).Associations Among Supportive Coparenting, Father Engagement and Attachment:The Role of Race/Ethnicity. Journal Of Child & Family Studies, 24(12),3793-3804. Quintana,S. M. (2007).Racial and ethnic identity: Developmentalperspectives and research. Journal of CounselingPsychology,54(3), 259-270. doi:http://dx.doi.org.library.collin.edu/10.1037/0022- 0167.54.3.259 Torres, L., Mata-Greve,F., & Harkins,A. (2018).A preliminary investigation of acculturative stress and diurnal cortisol among latina women
  16. 16. 11/18/2018 16 Thank you! Melanie Chung-Sherman, LCSW, LCPAA, PLLC. counsel@mcscounsel.com https://mcscounsel.com/ Connect-A-Kid, Inc. http://connectakid.org/

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