“So, have you met her parents?”
I noticed how bright my voice sounded, too cheery for such a charged question. Oh well, too late now. It’s out there like that plateful of breakfast bagels insisting on being noticed.
He shrugged his shoulders trying to let the question slide off his back.
“Nah. That isn’t going to happen for a long time.”
My son, Remy, has known this girl since high school where she was a classical piano star, of course. What high achieving driven Asian girl in New York City doesn’t play the piano? And she goes to church every Sunday with her Korean parents where she accompanies the choir.
“Her parents aren’t going to like me. I’m not Asian enough.”
My son is not Asian enough?
“Did you just hear what you said? Can you explain to me, your Chinese mother, what is not Asian enough about you?”
“Hell, I’m half Jewish, I wasn’t born in Seoul, I’m not a math major and I play video games, not some classical instrument.” Remy ran his fingers through his unruly Asian Jewfro hair and took a bite out of his bagel.
MIXED RACE MATH
If I am doing the math correctly, shouldn’t half of you be Asian enough or do they not accept hybrids?
Not Asian enough? What about being nice enough, decent enough, good enough? Those don’t count?
As I have said before, bringing home the white boy, in this case, the half white boy, to meet mom and dad is the moment in an interracial relationship that causes the most fear, frustration and emotional pain for couples.
Who wants to risk being rejected, hurt, insulted, forced to sneak around and worst of all, destroying your relationship?
You’re not Asian enough for her parents?
I have two words for that - puh lease!
If this is something you are worried about, keep reading.
ARE YOU A MEMBER OF A RACE OR CULTURE?
“Really? If I asked you what you think of yourself as, what would you say?”
“Me? I’m white.”
He looked at my startled expression and grinned. “Mom, you are the whitest Asian mom I know. That’s why I feel more like a skinny white Jewish kid than half Asian which I guess I am technically. But not culturally.”
“OK, what do you think your sister would say?”
“White. How else could she have all her white girl problems?”
And his younger brother? He said, “Oh, he’s white. How could he be Asian if he hates Chinese food except the take out that is made by Mexicans working in the Chinese restaurant?”
Remy was right.
Or rather, the girl’s parents are right. He isn’t Asian enough. For them.
But it isn’t a race thing. It is a where-you-grew-up thing.
Being Asian enough is a ridiculous measure of a person and reveals the presence of fear and the unwillingness to accept a person for other more important reasons.
I never imagined that any of my children would be told they weren’t Asian enough for someone. I suppose that could mean that I’m not Asian enough either.
I’m not sure if it is possible to increase your Asianess but I think we are about as Asian as you can get for an interracial family living in a very Irish neighborhood in Rockaway Beach, Queens.
Here’s what I really think about the situation.
The best way to present yourself to people who see you as not Asian enough, is to simply be more of who you are.
In this case, yes, be proud you can think in Cantonese and react in Yiddish.
Be proud your parents are a mixed couple who are happy together.
If the girl likes being with you despite what her parents think, this is a good thing and who knows? Maybe her parents will eventually come around and be happy that their daughter has found someone she is happy with.
Whatever happens, accept their assessment of you being not Asian enough for them as an accurate description of who you are and be proud of it.
I would rather have you be accused of that than be accused of not being nice enough, or not good enough which, of course, you are.
I should know. I’m your mother. And I couldn’t be more right, or Asian.
WHAT IS REALLY GOING ON
Let’s take a closer look at what is being said and what the message is.
There is no such thing as being Asian enough, white enough, black enough for anyone’s approval.
That is code for: I don’t want to deal with the one you are with.
These parents, like many parents with a similar reaction to someone from a different race or culture that their daughter or son brings home, are afraid.
Yes. Let me say that again.
They are afraid.
They are afraid of losing control, of change beyond their control, and they are closing their minds to what they may gain. So they react by putting up an illogical reason for their rejection of your relationship as an obstacle.
Fear is the great mindkiller.
HERE’S WHAT YOU DO:
1. Accept their fear for what it is. This is their way of saying - I don’t want to be uncomfortable with someone different.
2. Reject the logic. This is not a rational reason to accept or to reject someone. Be more of the person she fell in love with in the first place, not some verkockte unattainable ideal her parents are throwing at you.
3. Remain calm and good to each other. Do not attempt to overcome this ridiculous obstacle. It is not real. Focus your energies on your relationship and being people worth loving and respecting.
4. Wait for your moment. Your Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner moment may have to wait until sometime in the future. Be sure to surround yourselves with friends and supporters who will be in your corner.
5. Create a picture of happiness. Believe it or not, your family wants you to be happy. The most impressive and meaningful thing he can do is to show them how he makes you blissfully happy which is what you want, and what your parents want. Over time they will value what he means to you. What can you say about two people who are clearly happily in love with each other?
Do these 5 things with an open and giving heart and your parents will gain the confidence to let go of their fears.
They will gradually accept your choice and be happy for you.
Do not let this negativity distract you from being who you really are and you will attract the gift of acceptance you were intended to receive.
OK, for all of you who are not Asian, black or white enough for someone to bring home to meet their parents - thank God!
Stay as fabulous as you are for the one in your life who loves you just the way you are.