Tuesday, July 1, 2008

GA, sparks family conversation

Being home again is just wonderful! I'm so happy to be in the lovely Pacific Northwest where 85 is a record high and the town pool is crowded even when it's overcast and 72.

It's funny though, I've been trying to bring home little bits of the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly to my family. Yesterday I played the Good Asian Drivers set from the Synergy Service for my husband and for the two kids who didn't come with me to GA. When we were watching it a second time, my youngest son said "I don't like feminists, I mean, it's not like all us men are monsters." (Melissa Li proudly proclaims herself a feminist, and if you listen closely you can probably hear my wolf whistle in agreement from the cheap seats!)

"Sometimes that's what it feels like to be white" is what I said without even thinking about it. Oops. Maybe that was too much. In my house I am the only woman and the only white person. Well, I have a girl dog, but I don't think that counts! My husband is Korean and my kids are biological so they're multi-racial. They call themselves Hapa (which some folks feel is itself cultural misappropriation from Hawaiian, it means literally "half") and are--all four of them, powerful, strong, and very proud Asian men (their favorite hangin' out Asian guy website-- http://www.angryasianman.com/angry.html).

My kids get asked "what are you?" by people who don't really get it (favorite answer...? yes), and "which of your parents is Asian" by people who do. They don't look like most of the kids at Korean community events, and they don't look like the folks at the Scandinavian bakery in Ballard. But this is part of the reason we moved here to Seattle from the very white midwest. Our kids do have a peer group of multi-racial kids in schools and on teams and just walking thru the zoo. Here, we're not the racial diversity on our block. We fit in.

I'm still awfully torn about the Anti-racism, anti-opression, multi cultural work that we do at GA with the youth. A few years ago I complained loudly to everyone who would listen, and just made a big mudhole of the situation. What I learned is that being white, I can't really speak to the AR/AO/MC work we do as UUs. It comes across as more denial by another white person. And maybe that is what it is. But when the youth break into Identity Groups, they caucus in two groups. One is the PoC or the Person of Color group. The other is the white group. I notice in a very outside-looking-in way of observing this group that some of the youth of a multi-racial background are "busy" during that session. My son caucused this year with the white group the one time he did attend although if you look at his myspace he identifies there as Korean American.

I wonder if we're serving our mixed race young folks well. Not to mention the able-ism, age-ism, classism anti- oppression work we aren't even whispering about! I know, I know. We only have a short, tiny time and so much to do. True true true. Race is a huge and important issue for us all to deal with. In my house we celebrate "Loving Day" http://lovingday.org/and are intentionally thankful that we can be legally married. The year we were born, it would have been illegal in a handful of states still--and we're Gen X-ers!

I guess I've come to think of it this way. If we were going to caucus by sexual orientation, we would not tell our youth "you have to choose, gay or straight, one or the other, or hey! Try one today and the other one tomorrow!" what about queer youth who are bi or multi-affectional? What about trans youth? It's un-thinkable! Isn't this the reason we use the word queer? It's a bigger word! A bigger meaning!

Maybe I'm just a clueless white woman, who doesn't get it. Could be. Could be.

And really, it's a small pokey pebble of annoyance in the giant sized happiness I am still feeling about GA and especially the youth programming. And hey, it helped my little curmudgeon of an eleven-year-old son understand a little of what his white mom sometimes feels in her house full of PoCs! It's our "Growing Edge" and yes, I really do hate that term, but sometimes, I guess, it fits.


ms. kitty said...

Hi, Kari, it's Kit. I just discovered your blog! Nice to know there's another UU blogger out here in Puget Sound!

Hi, It's Kari. said...

And I think you're coming to my "house" this weekend--my congregation, and by a strange quirk, even tho it's my month off, I'll be there! Looking forward to MEETING you! Funny little itty bitty world we live in.

PeaceBang said...

Keep asking the good questions, Kari!