Monday, December 5, 2011

False Assumptions

We were down in Burlingame on Saturday, the two older ones dragged along with us and subjected to watching one of two of Youngest's soccer matches. Normally, we don't make them come to the games; truly, there's enough resentment of Youngest on the part of the other two that we try to avoid anything that increases it. But our Chinese family lives in South San Francisco, and we wanted to get all of us together because it's been such a long time since we've seen them.

So off we went, and after the first match, Eldest and Daughter went off with their Chinese parents. Pete, Youngest and I hung out with the two younger generations -- including the most adorable two-year-old I know -- in between the matches. While Pete took Youngest back 45 minutes before the second match, I got to hang with Oliver and his parents in a coffee shop.

It being the family-friendly kind of place, I was goofing off with Oliver around the place. As I have him in my arms and he is laughing up a storm, a fellow Caucasian woman comes up and says to us, "Oh, he's so happy! It's Saturday and he's out with his mommy. What fun!"


Oliver's mother watches the exchange. While she can't hear what is said, she turns to her husband and completely nails the gist of what the woman said. I come back over and relate the conversation, but the two of them already know.

Obviously, a white woman can't be playing with an Asian child unless he is her adopted son. Change the ethnicities of the two people -- make the toddler white and the woman Chinese -- and no one would make that assumption. But they'd still probably make a false assumption: that the woman was the nanny.

Apparently, white people and Chinese people aren't ever presumed to be friends. Or family of a different sort.

[Photo ripped off from Oliver's mommy's FB page.]


Tara R. said...

Kinda makes you wonder what that says about our society and cultural and social biases.

Jomama said...

Amen. And I was a Korean adoptee who grew up with people assuming my white mother and I must be strangers. You know what happens when you "Assume"!


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