13 December 2013

Well, #theyasked …

Last winter, my sister, hooked me on yet another social medium … Twitter. I blamed her youth (six years my junior).

Truth be told, Twitter has opened my eyes, and allowed me to speak more freely about issues of race, gender and adoption. I’ve discovered role models of color, strong women and fellow adoptees. Refreshing … like that ice-cold Coke on a hot Tennessee summer’s day.

This week, I stumbled across Kat Chow (@katchow) and her #theyasked thread. It began with an NPR Code Switch article from May.

Around the same time as this article, many of my friends sent me this YouTube video, via both private messages and emails.

All of these things have come rushing back this week. Two separate people queried in sensitive ways. Change is happening, and that’s refreshing! The question most commonly asked of me this week was, “I detect a Southern accent … ”

To which, I replied, “You do, indeed!  I’m from Appalachia, the Tennessee side.” Then, there is the usual discomfort in their faces, like they are trying to figure it all out. I understand their confusion, but continue as I normally do, acting oblivious to the true question that is lurking behind their smiles.

Call me narcissistic, but I enjoy watching this quizzical look. You see, I have lived this uncomfortable moment for 46 years … always wondering who I am and “where I am from,” questioning my language, my legal name and the face that looks back at me. All these fabulous things meld into the person I am today … the anomaly that confuses and causes uncomfortable moments.

It certainly makes for interesting conversation. The addition of my husband’s English background causes even more confusion as I use words like “toilet” for bathroom, “holiday” for vacation, and all the rude “b” British terms.

This British connection caused me to hide the YouTube video, sensitive to my in-laws and my own children, but now, I realize that such things spark the race conversation. What is even more interesting are all the comments people feel so beholden to make.

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