Saturday, July 20, 2013

"Asian" Eyes

(image from InCulture Parent)
©  Sharon Chang, Jul 20, 2013  as seen on Racism Review

I love my Japanese mother-in-law to the end of time. She is an amazing woman who has been (and continues to be) profoundly supportive when my own mother is notably absent. My son is also intensely close to her and identifies with her very deeply. But when it comes to race, there are clear differences in the way we think. Some of these differences are cultural. Some generational. Sometimes we find ways to talk about it (very powerful). But sometimes we don’t. One subject that has confounded me is the number of times she’s mentioned my son’s eyes. In the beginning she often observed that his eyes were Asian-shaped. Now, almost every time we see her she points out that he is developing an eyelid crease or “double eyelid” which he didn’t have when he was born. But she’s got me reconsidering myself on this one. Eyes are clearly something she notices right away and thinks about a lot. But I don’t. Or…do I? Because the truth is many people easily identify me as mixed Asian and I’ve always assumed it was mostly because of my eyes. And now it’s happening to my son. The trouble is, when I ask myself what it is about our eyes that would identify us, I can’t describe it. I seem to be avoiding. And it certainly gives me an icky feeling on some level. Why is that? And what exactly are “Asian” eyes anyway?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Movie Musicals

(image source)
 ©  Sharon Chang and Multiracial Asian Families Blog, Jul 3 2013

I grew up on movie musicals: Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, Meet Me In St Louis, Carousel, Oklahoma, Mary Poppins, Sound of Music, Grease, Hello Dolly, Chorus Line, Tea for Two…you name it. My love of music and desire to sing/dance were centrally inspired by these movies. So unsurprisingly when I had my son and judged he was old enough for TV, I started showing him musical numbers from these films. Initially it was great. I swam blissfully in a sea of nostalgia as my little guy formed, what I thought, were golden music memories akin to my own. But then, a couple things happened. First, my son simply stopped liking the movies. He didn’t want to watch them anymore and would tell me to turn them off. At the same time, I was starting to research and reflect more deeply upon issues of multiracial Asian identity and parenting. Certainly being mixed Asian is a subject I’ve circled back to over and over my whole life. But now, it was cast in such a different light. Now I had not just my adult-self and adult-husband to consider, but a young child to support and guide. And not just any young child (as all of you who are parents know) but my own child, my heart and soul. The stakes felt very high...