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Who? [Jan. 2nd, 2014|05:31 pm]
Who else should I be following? If I don't have anyone to read, I will never check in here.
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Syndicated link [Aug. 14th, 2008|12:39 pm]
If you want to keep reading, here is the link to my syndicated blog. 

http://syndicated.livejournal.com/amfam


Big thanks to amygooglegirl for setting it up!
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(no subject) [Aug. 14th, 2008|09:16 am]
Hmm. It appears that I can't fix the lj crossposter for my blog.  

Does anyone reading this have a paid or permanent LJ account who would be willing to syndicate it for me?  I am not sure exactly how it works, but there is some more info here:
http://www.livejournal.com/support/faqbrowse.bml?faqid=137

Amber
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Broken Feed thing [Aug. 13th, 2008|07:45 pm]
I usually post to this blog via a crossposter plugin on Wordpress, but it is currently broken. 

I am going to try to fix it tonight or tomorrow, but until you see more regular posts, you may need to click over to my other blog if you are reading this on LJ.  You know, if you just can't get through the day without knowing what I am currently complaining about.  heh.

Sorry for the inconvenience! 

http://american-family.org
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*sigh* [Aug. 10th, 2008|02:44 am]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

I suppose it was too much to hope that I could enjoy the Olympics without having to talk about politics, but I was wrong.

I don’t even like sports, but last night during the opening ceremony, I kept getting teary.  Why?  Because the Olympics are one of the few moments that we share as human beings.  Chances are, eyes from ever single country on this planet are watching (or watched) the same thing I was watching.  Chances are good L’s family in China saw it too.

When ever Chinese person we knew was getting more and more excited about the olympics in Beijing, I poo-poo-ed  it.  I thought it was a big deal over nothing.  But when I saw it?  It was a big freaking deal.  It was something Chinese people could be proud of.

It was a moment where the country of China was saying “We want to be a respected member of the international community.  We want to play with the big boys.  We want your respect and admiration and we are willing to bend over fucking backwards and pay through the nose to get it.”

That moment, where the admiring eyes of the world watched one of the most spectacular performances I have ever seen, was not about the Chinese government.  It was about the Chinese *PEOPLE*.  One-fifth of the world’s population that has been trying to claw its way back into respectability for the last 35 years.  Can’t the Chinese people have a couple weeks where they can be proud of the massive accomplishments they have made in the last three decades?

Is the Chinese government fucked up?  Heck yeah!  They oppress their minorities, deny women and families their reproductive rights and force people to move for public work projects.

Is the Chinese government any more fucked up than the US government?  It depends on who you ask.  In case you are forgetting, the US government is responsible for this and this and this.  Oh wait, there is this and this and this and this.  Seriously, I could google US human rights abuses and misdeeds until my fingers bleed.

Do I wish the Chinese government would have saved the money they spent on the Olympics and spent it for their orphans or the poor or whatever?  Sure.  But I also wish the US government would save the $3 TRILLION dollars it is spending on the Iraq war to provide health care for poor people in America too.  Besides, I would rather watch the fireworks in China than watch US bombs blow people up.

You don’t like the Chinese government?  Fine.  Protest all you want.  Boycott Chinese-made goods.  Ooooh, maybe you won’t even watch the Olympics.   Is that going to do diddly-squat to change things in China?  Heck no, it won’t.

The Chinese government isn’t going to straighten up its act if we isolate and shame them.  What makes countries behave themselves is being a member of the larger community of developed nations.

When China grows up –and it WILL grow up eventually, because you can’t keep down a fifth of the world’s population if they have a lust for education and wealth like the Chinese — it will have to answer not only to the rest of the world.  The Chinese government is going to have to answer to the Chinese PEOPLE.  People who will eventually be relatively wealthy and educated and plugged in to the global community.
The Chinese people have tasted the Big Mac and they want more.  They want more and they want to be better, just like most of the rest of the citizens of this planet.

Sure some wrinkly old guys are trying to cling desperately to their party’s place in the corrupt power structure, but then, we have that here too.

China is changing faster than pretty much anywhere else on the planet.  It is impossible to predict what will happen there in 10 or 20 years, but I will go out on a limb and bet there is democracy in China in my lifetime.  (Not that democracy prevents human rights violations, as the US is so eager to demonstrate time and again.)  Things are changing there for the better and I expect the trend to continue, but it won’t happen over night.

It isn’t every day we get the honor of a truly global event.  This week, our family is going to enjoy watching the Olympics with the rest of the world.  You now, with all those people whose governments are imperfect but whose citizens hope for something better, just like us.

If you want to talk smack about Chinese politics, I am not going to provide the venue for it on my blog.  Not this week.

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One World, One Dream [Aug. 9th, 2008|05:51 pm]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

Damn, wasn’t the Olympic opening ceremony pretty effing awesome?  I mean, no one else  can throw a couple thousand performers out there and do it as well as the Chinese.

I asked Mr. A what he thought as we were watching:

Me: “So, you are impressed?”

Mr.A: “Yes.”

Me: “What are you thinking?”

Mr. A: “I should have worked harder at learning Chinese.”

Me: “Does it make you feel proud of your people?”

Mr. A: “Yes, but also a little scared.”

Me: “Scared?”

Mr. A: “Yeah, see how those guys are walking all over that big lit-up globe?  It is like they are saying ‘We are coming to take over the world with our massive numbers and ostentatious display of new found wealth!’”

Me: “Yup, I can see how one might interpret it that way…but look!  There are the happy faces of all the children of the world flashing on the screens.  They are smiling because they are happy to be conquered by the wealthy Chinese masses!  If they manage the world has well as they have managed the opening ceremony, we will all be happier once China rules the world!  Just give into your Chinese-ruled destiny, my friend.”

Mr. A: “Man, the Chinese are good at propaganda.”

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Shoppers Block [Aug. 8th, 2008|04:48 pm]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

It appears that two months without shopping has had an unexpected side effect.  In the last week, I have tried to buy things at the mall, target, and another mall.  Each time I came home completely empty-handed.  Target for crying out loud!  How could I leave Target with NOTHING??  (Actually, you can blame that one on a tired and hungry toddler.  It wasn’t worth the struggle to buy new toothbrushes.) 

 I even spent about 1.5 hours shoe shopping online last night and didn’t buy a damn thing.

I wonder if this is a long-term problem or if it will resolve itself with more shopping practice?

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minutiae [Aug. 7th, 2008|05:42 pm]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

On to less serious topics…

  • Only 3 weeks until school starts.  I already bought all M’s school supplies, her lunch box/thermos and backpack.  We aren’t really going to buy her any new clothes until the weather turns chilly.  We are super-duper fortunate that my good friend sends M and L her girls’ hand-me-downs and they are in immaculate condition.  M may end up needing a few sweaters/jeans, but she will be dressed to the nines in name brand or boutique beautiful dresses and outfits for the first couple months.  She will need two new pairs of shoes so I am going to go get her feet measured today so I can order them online.  I am thinking she will probably need a pair of maryjanes and maybe some tennis / gym shoes.
  • Since we don’t have to buy new clothes, I am going to indulge myself and buy new socks for both M and L.  Despite my best efforts to buy them all all the same kinds of only black and white socks, we seem to not have any matching pairs anywhere in this house.  WTF??  I am so fed up, I am just going to throw all the old socks away and start fresh.
  • Is it wrong that I already google-stalked all the kindergarten teachers?
  • Our shopping hiatus is officially over today. (We extended it one week into august because we didn’t want to worry so much about expenses on vacation in July)   I tried desperately to cheat and buy myself some much-needed new t-shirts and fall clothes last weekend but came home completely empty handed.  Apparently, this year the designers have decided that women are actually 7 feet tall, so the t-shirts all hang down to the bottom of my ass.  Is it too hard to make a standard, regular length t-shirt?
  • Today, I read this article and then downloaded the Edison program.  We are working on making small changes to help cut our energy usage, so maybe this will help a little.  I have also been trying to unplug appliances we are not using.  Baby steps, but every little bit helps, right?

Over and out.

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talking about race at age 5 [Aug. 6th, 2008|05:04 pm]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

In a comment, AlisonG asked:

I’m curious about how you talk to M and L about Asian appearance. My daughter (Chinese) is 2.5 and I’m searching for terms for her skin colour, eye shape, etc. that don’t come across as racist or offensive. Any suggestions?

I mentioned this in one of the previous posts, but I thought it might be good to elaborate on it a little.

We talk quite a bit about being Chinese or Taiwanesse or Asian and what that means.  It is just a regular part of our day-to-day conversation.  I suppose it might sound weird in other families, but in our house, it is was it is.

For example, last week we had tofu for dinner and this was the conversation:

Mr. A: “L sure is a good Chinese girl! She loves this tofu!”

M: “Do all chinese people like tofu?  Because I like this one but I don’t like the brown kind (dried tofu).”

Mr. A: “Oh, not all Chinese people like tofu, but in China people eat a lot of tofu.  Even if you don’t like tofu, you are still Chinese because I am Chinese.”

M: “Well, that brown kind is yucky.  I like RICE because I am Chinese, right Daddy?”

Mr. A: “Lots of people in China eat rice, that’s for sure.  The rice we buy comes from China.  People in China eat a lot of rice, but they also eat a lot of noodles.”

Yada, yada, yada.  (I should note that I often let Mr. A handle these conversations about what Chinese people are like, because I think it is his perogative to define “chinese” not mine.)
M doesn’t really have a handle on racial identification based on appearance yet, which is why I was so surprised by the park thing.  We have tried to discuss it with her, but she doesn’t get it.
I just went and asked M to tell me what Chinese people look like and she said this:  Black hair, kind of dark skin, and Chinese clothes (?!?).    I asked “What about you? Your hair isn’t black?”  She agreed that her hair isn’t black, then she said her skin is a little dark and she “knows Chinese words, silly!” so she is Chinese.

Then we ran through some examples of other people with brown skin and black hair who are not Chinese.  She could tell me the ethnicity of kids from school who meet this description (Japanese, Indian, Mexican/Germanese etc.) because they talked a lot about this at her school*.
Then, when we went over examples of other people whose ancestry she didn’t know, she was clueless.  For example, yesterday a friend and her son came to visit and they were both South Asian (but born here).  When I asked M what they were, she said “English.”  When I asked why she thought that, she said “Because I have only ever seen them in America.”  (Which totally  makes no sense given she has only known the vast majority of people in her life in America.)
I think she isn’t yet ready developmentally to grasp the subtleties of visual racial clues, unless they are very obvious or accompanied by another language/accent. I need to get out my book on raising multiracial kids and see what she is developmentally able to grasp at this age.

We usually let M lead these conversations and tell us how she thinks people look.

I just asked her if she thinks there is anything different about people’s eyes and she said “The colors? Oh, and also the size.  L has little eyes, you have big eyes, I have medium eyes.”

I thought maybe she was trying to talk about Asian eyes as “little” but then I asked her to elaborate and she said “L has the littlest eyes, mine are bigger, yours are bigger than mine, but Daddy’s are the biggest because he is the biggest person in our family!”

So I think she was actually talking about the size of the person’s body and head, not the shape of the eye.
Also, I think the distinctions between white and Asian will be less obvious to our kids because they see so many people of both groups intermixed all the time (in our family, extended family, their friend’s families, etc.).  It definitely isn’t unusual for them to see a white dad, Asian mom and 100% Asian kid in one family,  white mom and two Asian kids in another family or all Asians in a single family.  So I think no one really stands out as “different” in those to categories for her.

*There was also some negatives to this conversation happening outside our control.  For example, her teacher Mrs. Kim told the kids that “Koreans have white skin.  People from India have brown skin.”  So even though there were Indian kids and Korean kids in the class with *very* similar skin tones, they were being told that one was “white” and one was “brown”.  That isn’t exactly how I would have handled that situation, obviously.  I would have had each kid define their own skin color.

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The Incident at the Playground (part 3) [Aug. 4th, 2008|01:49 pm]
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Originally published at American Family. Please leave any comments there.

When I decided to take M to the park, I was a little concerned about what might happen.  Sure, I wanted M to learn that she was being silly.  At the same time I didn’t want M to have an opportunity to hurt the other little girl’s feelings, which seemed like a definite possibility given M’s very forthright declaration of not wanting to play with someone who was “different” because she had “brown skin and braids”.  I was planning on very closely monitoring the situation.
As soon as we entered the park and the little girl caught sight of M, she headed straight toward us.  As she ran up, M said “HI!” but kept on doing what she was doing.   The other girl didn’t say anything.   M continued playing (and narrating her play to me and L) and the little girl continued following her wordlessly, always staying about 6-7 feet away.  The lack of interaction was a little strange.

M decided she wanted to swing, so M, L and I headed over there.  The little girl stuck right behind M, still not talking.

When we got to the swings, I decided I would talk if no one else was going to.

“So, what is your name?” I asked.

“Molly.”  she said.

“Hi Molly, this is M and L.”  I said.

“How old are you?” M asked, “I am five years old!  My birthday is on February 9, 2003!  What year were you born?
“I’m three.” Molly said.

Knowing that Molly was three, her lack of conversation made a lot more sense. Molly was only about an inch shorter than 5 1/2 year old M and she really looked 5.  As soon as we found out she was only three, it was clear she was just acting like a three year old who really likes big kids.  As the mostly one-sided conversation (from M) continued, I also concluded that Molly may be bilingual due to the way she was putting her sentences together and a slight accent.  (I am guessing her parents were from Africa, but I don’t know.)

M continued to chatter on and on.  Molly answered her questions occasionally.  M tried to explain an imaginary game that she wanted to play to Molly, but Molly didn’t always follow M’s rules.  I reminded M a few times that Molly was only three and M adjusted her play.  They ran off to the slides together and played uneventfully for another 10 minutes, until we had to go home.

On the way home, I reminded M that she had said she didn’t want to play with Molly before because she looked different.  “Well, that was before I knew her,” M said.  We talked about how silly that was and that Molly ended up being a good playmate.  We talked again about all our friends who had differences and how they are different.  (We have continued to have this conversation over the past few days.  M seems to enjoy it.)  We also talked about how M might feel if someone didn’t want to play with her because she was Chinese or had brown hair or was a girl.  M agreed she would feel sad and she didn’t want to make other people sad.  Then we went home and she went to bed.

Sorry to disappoint the folks who thought there would be some big, dramatic ending to this story, but it was real life.

I will be honest and say some part of me hopes that the original issue came up because Molly was only 3 (but looks 5) and didn’t play the way M expected her to.  Mr. A said they had talked a little before M started to ignore her, so it could be possible.  That doesn’t explain why M would blame Molly’s hair or skin color though.

The truth is I don’t know where this came from.  M does have some friends who are Black and she has made friends with other Black kids in the park easily recently.  There were no African American kids at M’s preschool, but there were a number of very dark-skinned south Asian kids.  While M could tell me where every classmate’s parents immigrated or ancestors originated from and their skin/hair color, she had never placed any good/bad value on it to my knowledge.
I know I shouldn’t have been so surprised that this would happen, but it caught me off guard.  I felt like we are trying to do a decent job of being anti-racist in our parenting.  I think talk a lot about race and ethnicity in what I think is an age-appropriate way.  I am realizing that we have talked a lot about differences, but not much about discrimination.   I think M has shown us it is time for us to broaden the conversation.

Maybe we haven’t done enough in our day to day lives either. Maybe it was a mistake to send M to the preschool where the ethnic mix was mostly Asian, white and hapa.  We knew we were sacrificing other diversity, but I felt like it was worth it for M to come out of preschool with a solid understanding of herself as (half) Asian and knowing other kids who shared that experience (which she did).  I don’t know.

While I am not proud of this situation, but if I had neglected to share it here, it would have been really hypocritical after all my talk about being anti-racist.  Even if we parent in a perfectly anti-racist way, our girls will be out in the world being influenced by people/things out of our control.  We are trying to use it as a learning opportunity.

We just have to keep plugging away, I guess.

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