Recently at a #notyourasiansidekick twitter event, Juliet Shen asked the question “how does being in an inter-ethnic/interracial relationship tie into all this?” and the panel went off. I considered the question myself and how I would have answered it. Like Suey Park, I too have been called a race traitor because I almost exclusively dated white men in the past. In a different post I spoke to the origin of why I made that decision. Because I didn’t entirely belong in either the Asian or American community anyway, I often felt alone. I think the issue of being labeled as a “race traitor” applies to different groups but I almost feel its worse for women, because where women are often seen as giving, men are often seen as taking.
My mother (an Asian woman) was with a white man and it did not work out. Her family never let her hear the end of it. My father would eventually have left my mother before I was born but even to this day, I hear mumbles of the “mistakes” she made. My uncle for example once told my mom the reason she was in the position she was in is because she chose to be with a white man, betraying the race and therefore gets everything that came to her. To my uncle, my mom was a race traitor and my father leaving her was the consequence of her being naive enough to think he would stay with her or really cared for her. Years later I’m sure my family felt that fate brought me to repeat the “mistakes” of my past. Like her, my white exes did not show the commitment to me and I felt my relationships with them were often novelty for them (they dated an asian to say they dated one), with an over-emphasis on sex, but nothing that would endure. It is really difficult living in a culture within a culture that communicates conflicting messages. Whereas we are socialized to view white as superior and what we should aspire to be, we are told that it’s a fools errand to think we can dare dream such a dream. The words “who do you think you are?” comes to mind. In the end, I doubt I have the respect of either communities given the choices made.
As the socializing forces continue to influence how we view what is “desirable,” I predict we will continue to have an influx of “race traitors.”