Thursday, November 20, 2008

Did My Race and Ethnicity Affect My Values?

As I was completing my paperwork for our adoption, I came across this question. Did my race and ethnicity affect my values? My knee jerk reaction was to say no, but then I thought about it for a second and realized that this was not a yes or no answer.

For the most part, my values have been shaped by my family and the important people around me. As I grew older, I watched what they did and decided what made sense and I emulated the people that I respected. Race and ethnicity really didn’t play into my decisions.

However, I do realize that being a minority did have a lot to do with how I viewed other people. My parents taught me that everyone deserves to be treated with respect and that we judge people by their actions (not because of the way they look, what they believe in, etc…). I was treated differently because I was a Korean adoptee and I didn’t like it all. I didn’t like that people assume that I should be a certain way just because of how I looked. Therefore, I make an extra effort not to do the same things to others.

It always amazes me when a minority expresses a stereotype about another minority or shows prejudice based on assumptions. I have a hard time understanding how someone who has been slapped in the face with prejudice can turn around and slap someone else (Black v. Asian, Asian v. Hispanic, Hispanic v. Native American, etc…). I am not perfect. I find myself jumping to conclusions, but I am aware of the problem and I try very hard not to react to these unsubstantiated conclusions. I am constantly reminding myself that I need to step back and look at the facts. I remind myself to never say the word “all” when talking about people because it never applies. All Asians are not Chinese. All Arabic people are not Muslim. All Muslims are not terrorists. All Black people are not gang members. All Hispanic people are not illegal residents.

So, yes, I think that my race and ethnicity did affect my values and the way I value people. I hope that as my children grow older, they look to emulate some of my values and, hopefully, they can take them a step farther.

1 comment:

AZMom said...

What a great post.