Not Feeling Biracial When You Are

My personal journey

The recent issues with xenophobia and anti-Asian racism in the US got me thinking about my own Asian connection. My father was Korean, and my mother was American. I was adopted by two white parents soon after I was born and didn’t know my biological father. My Asian facial traits were more prominent as a young child. Growing up in rural North Carolina, I remember several comments about my “slanted eyes.” At the time, being such a young age, I never really completely understood those comments. My parents did an excellent job explaining how I was not exactly like the other kids and that being different is a strength.

As I proceeded through high school and college, it became rarer and rarer for anyone to ask if I were part Asian. If the occasional person did ask I was proud of this fact and considered it something that made me unique. I then served 21 years in the Navy. In the military you must declare your race for administrative purposes. I declared my race as white and not Asian. The military does mandate review of minority officer records not selected for promotion to ensure fairness. I never missed a promotion window, so the fact that I didn’t declare my race as Asian never seemed to matter.

With the Black Lives Matter movement in the summer of 2020, I learned the importance of personal narratives. You can never really understand another individual’s narrative due to their unique life experiences and perceptions. This concept intrigued me, and I think it is very relevant to my current situation. In my narrative, I rarely consider my Asian heritage in my world view.

So what does this all mean to me now, and what are my near-term actions? First and foremost, I am going to educate myself. How can I better identify bias by me or someone else? What actions can I take if I detect this bias? What if I witness a physical assault of another person? It is imperative to learn what to do if these situations ever arise. Learning and practicing what to do in these situations beforehand is very important. There is no way to learn as you go especially if it is a violent scenario. Second, I plan to research how I can best support the overall effort using my skills and resources. That may be in the form of financial, analytical, or educational support.

And finally, the most important thing for all of us to do is to figure out our roles in developing solutions for bias and social injustices. Doing nothing and hoping the problems will go away is the same as helping this problems persist as far as I am concerned. I have provided some links that helped me along my journey below.



Report an Incident: Stand Against Hatred

CANA Director of Analytics Capabilities

An analytics professional that enjoys learning, teaching, and using analytical techniques and tools to answer challenging questions.