Stories of Change & Creativity

Anna Rochelle Rangel - Phenomenally Asian & Proud Adoptee

April 02, 2021 Anna Rochelle Rangel Season 2 Episode 27
Stories of Change & Creativity
Anna Rochelle Rangel - Phenomenally Asian & Proud Adoptee
Chapters
Stories of Change & Creativity
Anna Rochelle Rangel - Phenomenally Asian & Proud Adoptee
Apr 02, 2021 Season 2 Episode 27
Anna Rochelle Rangel

Show Notes

I've been moved by recent violence and racism against our Asian American communities.  Years ago my husband and I adopted two daughters from China.  Our family is a blend of culture and color. 

I found a thoughtful Facebook post by Asian adoptee Anna Rochelle Rangel.  I contacted Anna and interviewed her on Zoom.  Anna describes herself as  Phenomenally Asian & Proud Adoptee.

Here's part of her Facebook post:

The Asian American Experience to me is: 

•Staying small, invisible, out of trouble, & quiet 

•Being the Model Minority 

• Constantly being told I look like “insert any female Asian actor”

•Down playing my experiences because someone else always has it worse

Anna encourages all of us to speak out against hate and racism.  She offers the following suggestions for connecting with Asian American communities:  

  • Reach out to Asian Americans.  Ask how they are doing.  Start a conversation.  Ask about their story.  
  • Visit and support Asian-owned businesses. 
  • Share anti-racist posts in social media.
  • Message your friends and family in the Asian community.


Support the show (http://www.buymeacoffee.com/judyoskam)

Show Notes Transcript

Show Notes

I've been moved by recent violence and racism against our Asian American communities.  Years ago my husband and I adopted two daughters from China.  Our family is a blend of culture and color. 

I found a thoughtful Facebook post by Asian adoptee Anna Rochelle Rangel.  I contacted Anna and interviewed her on Zoom.  Anna describes herself as  Phenomenally Asian & Proud Adoptee.

Here's part of her Facebook post:

The Asian American Experience to me is: 

•Staying small, invisible, out of trouble, & quiet 

•Being the Model Minority 

• Constantly being told I look like “insert any female Asian actor”

•Down playing my experiences because someone else always has it worse

Anna encourages all of us to speak out against hate and racism.  She offers the following suggestions for connecting with Asian American communities:  

  • Reach out to Asian Americans.  Ask how they are doing.  Start a conversation.  Ask about their story.  
  • Visit and support Asian-owned businesses. 
  • Share anti-racist posts in social media.
  • Message your friends and family in the Asian community.


Support the show (http://www.buymeacoffee.com/judyoskam)

Judy:

Welcome to Stories of Change and Creativity. I'm Judy Oskam, a university professor and Gallup strengths coach. On this podcast, we explore ideas about the journey we take and the choices we make. Let me first provide you with some context about this episode. My family is a blend of color and culture. We are the proud parents of two daughters adopted from China. My husband is Dutch and Chinese and I'm Norwegian, Irish and Czech. I'm angry and saddened by the recent acts of racism and violence against the Asian American community. I found a thoughtful post by Anna Rochelle Rangel. She describes herself as phenomenally Asian and a proud adoptee. Welcome to my conversation with Anna Rochelle Rangel. Thank you for joining me today, Anna.

Anna:

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Judy:

Well, Anna was born in China and adopted by an American couple. She grew up in the Midwest and I was so moved by your post on Facebook about your own Asian experience. What, what made you speak out now? Why, why did you think that was important?

Anna:

I think it was important because I know after seeing a lot of posts and a lot of hatred out there , um, I was seeing a lot of people, it was hard being an Asian adoptee. Um , and it's like, I was confused and I was like, well, I want to speak out. I want to be able to , um, share my feelings with people. Um, but I don't feel like I can, because I was raised, you know, in a white family, I was raised in a way people would call it privileged, but yet I have that Asian identity, like when people see me. So that's why it was like, okay, this is difficult. Like how do I fit in between those two sides?

Judy:

Well, and one thing that you wrote , uh, in, in your post is some things that you experienced as a Chinese adoptee and I'll , and I'll say as the mom of two Chinese adoptees , um, I feel like I really am, this is very troubling to me too, to see all of this , uh , anger and racism going on right now and knowing kind of what to do. But I saw it in my own family. I know my daughters had faced challenges living in Texas. Um, they were often the only Asian kids in the classroom. What , what did you experience in the Midwest?

Anna:

Yeah, so , um, yeah, me also living Midwest . Um, I live here, I live in Kansas, and , um, growing up, I grew up in a very small little town in Kansas about population of about, I think 2,500. Maybe it's a little bigger now, but at the time it was very small and I was pretty much the only Asian in the whole town. Um, we did have , um, one couple that lived down the street from us who had opened a Chinese restaurant and that's how otherwise that was about it. And then a couple, few years down the line, we had another Chinese family come into town and open another Chinese restaurant. And they did have some , uh , Chinese children that were like foreign exchange students that came in. But otherwise I pretty much grew up as the only Asian in town. Um, would make experience growing up. I did not, I thought it was bullying. Like I was always told like, Oh, you're just being bullied. Um, kids are being kids, you know? Um, and so I always talked about, honestly, I always talked about just being bullied and like, yeah, I just had a really bad experience growing up and I just had a lot of bullies or I was just harassed and bullied all the time. But looking back now, seeing like at my age now that I'm 23 and I see the lenses through different ways, being an American as well as being adopted or being Chinese. I'm like, Hey, that wasn't okay. Like, the things that I experienced was way more than bullying. It was harassment. It was , um, it was just micro aggression and say it was hatred racism straight up. Um, there was one day sad. Um, I was in sixth grade, so I was about 12 years old. And , um, I had have to walk home from school every day and for sixth grade. And it was about a mile a half away. And I walked home every day and I never thought about, you know, thinking back now, I never thought about, Oh, I was a little girl. Like, it was not a big deal walking home, but now I'm like, Oh my gosh, like I would never do that today as a 12 year old do that. But one day when I walked home , um , I noticed a car following me and , um, I sped up a little bit. And then once I kind of got a block or two away from my house, I turned around and they stopped and they rolled down the window and it was a female probably in her twenties and she rolled out her window and she yelled , um , chink you go back to your country and drove away. And I was like, I'm 12. I had no idea what that meant. I went home and I was like, mom, what's a chink. So that's the first time I ever learned of what that was. And I was like, I have no idea. It just freaks me out that this girl was following me. Um, didn't think anything of it, although it did be , I did at 12 year olds , 12 years old, did realize when she said go back to your country. I'm like, okay. Something that's definitely not. Right. So yeah, that was one of the biggest things I experienced.

Judy:

Well, and you know, the recent acts of violence and racism against the Asian community. That's , uh, that's been very troubling for all of us. Why, why do you think that, that, that , that Asian adoptees in particular, is there sort of an in-between there, do you feel in between?

Anna:

Yes, I do. Um, and that's why my biggest thing, that's honestly, the biggest reason why I did start making posts and start speaking out about it because it's, yeah, there's, it's definitely hard. Um, in the Asian community right now, it's very hard, but it's like, it's again where as being Asian adoptees and Asian Americans , it's like, where do we fit in, in that? Cause it's like, we, why we want to be a part of that. We want to be a part of this new revolution or this new , um, this new thing going on and helping with the stop Asian hate and , um, you know, Hate is a virus. We're not a virus. Like, but it's like, we I've seen so many people, so many of us adoptees and Asian-Americans get turned down and turned away and they're like, you don't understand us. Um , you were raised in America, you were raised privileged. And in a way, yes, we have more privileges than others, but the thing is we still get the same racism that, so that's what it is. And that's why it is. I definitely think there's two sides. It's like, where do we fit in? Because we're not necessarily welcomed on, you know, the Caucasian, the white side, but we're also not welcomed on like the Asian and Chinese side.

Judy:

Well, and, and, and what does that backlash , uh , about the Asian community say about race in America? Because that's a, that's a race issue.

Anna:

Yeah. I mean, I feel like they're not helping their case when they're not even letting Asian Americans help, you know, stand up with them. It's just making it worse saying that it's, Oh, you're not allowed because you're not a hundred percent Asian. And I'm like, well that there that's racism. That's not right there. It's not letting. It's not including us.

Judy:

Right. And, and, and some of the things that you wrote in your post I thought were just very, you know, let me read some of it. I have a lot of feelings and emotion due to the recent events in the Asian American community. I wanted to share some of my experiences, but I also wasn't sure if my experiences are pertinent enough, I fought for years growing up to be part of a community and to be just accepted. I felt, I felt foreign in a country. I was born in, even when I went back to China. So you went back to China. What was that experience like when you went back to visit your birth country?

Anna:

It was a culture shock. It really was. It was great . Cause I grew up in America pretty much my whole life, my whole life actually. Yeah. And , um, I , I wanted to go back to China to find my roots. Um , I kind of call it like my semi quarter life crisis there where I was like, Hey, I just want to take a semester off school. I want to go find my roots. I want to see where I was born. I want to see my orphanage. I want to see that. And I want to experience it. And because in a way I felt like I was completely out of touch with who I was my ethnicity. And I was like, I have no idea anything about Chinese culture, Chinese background. I don't know where I came from. I'm like, I need it . It's time for me to figure it out. Um, so when I went back, I went back, craziest thing I've ever done. Um, I just went out, went back on a limb with no, not knowing anyone there, not really having a plan , um , not knowing the language. And when I showed up there, I was completely lost and I was in complete shock. I got scammed by a lot of taxi drivers. Um, I didn't realize how, I don't know how to put this, but in China when I was there, people were, I would say, people would say how they are in America, kind of rude. Like they come off like kind of rudish where they're very, like, they will cut in front of you and they will do whatever they want, but that's normal over there. And so that's why it's like, huh, this is odd. Like I'm not used to this. Um, and a lot of people stare and don't have boundaries over there. And so it's like people I have a ton of people would just come up to me and try to talk to me in Chinese . And I felt really bad too . They didn't know how to communicate with them. And they would give me this look like, and then even when one of my taxi driver said something to me and was like, you Chinese, like in the face, but you don't speak Chinese. And I said, no, I don't. I'm adopted. And I would always try to explain that, but they, they wouldn't understand. So that was really hard.

Judy:

Do you think there's some, some cultural stigma too , to being adopted? I know whenever we were in China and visited, I always wondered. And of course here I am a five foot, nine white woman, you know, and it was obvious that I am not Chinese, but I always wondered if there is some stigma to going back and visiting as an adopted family. And our family is very blended. We're a blend of color and culture in our family, but I just wonder about the culture. And I wonder about the adoption and the stigma of adoption in China.

Anna:

I think people know like people are very aware of adoption in China. Um, I feel like a lot of people hide it though in China, you know, with the government and everything over there. Um, it's not very talked about, I'd say. So I think people are definitely aware that there's been a lot of people adopt it from there. Um, and it's a thing, but it's just not talked about

Judy:

Well, and some, some other things that , that you wrote , um, I was made fun of anytime . I tried to show pride for being Chinese for my slanted eyes and for not being Asian enough. What do you mean by being Asian enough? Uh I've I've never thought about being American enough enough,

Anna:

So yeah, with that, that's, again, it's like that stereotyping and microaggression that I got to where like people would say like, you're a banana, like you're a white on the inside, but you're yellow on the outside. I would get that a lot. Um, I guess a lot of people would expect me to know Chinese , um, and nothing's wrong with that. It would just after it , time and time again, you're constantly asked, Hey, do you speak Chinese? Do you know your birth parents, this and that, it gets annoying. So it just gets kind of annoying. And I know I don't mind answering that, but it's just, there's different ways. I feel like people can go about asking that. Um, so when I'm like, when I say not Asian enough, I don't, most of my life, I never felt Asian enough. I'd always, people would always come up to me and um, be like, you're so white, you're the widest Asian I've ever met. And it's like, what am I supposed to do? I was born in China, adopted and raised in Kansas. So by a white family. So yes. Um, maybe I do come off as quote white, but that's not my fault.

Judy:

Right. And it shouldn't be a fault. It should, it should not be considered that well. And, and how can people learn and be, and be educated more about the Asian American communities in their area? How can people then learn from this? I always like to think about a teachable moment here. Is there, is there any teachable moment here?

Anna:

Oh, for sure. Um, I thing I've noticed , um, I guess not everyone has a college town around them, so it's a little, but I know I grew up , um , I moved from that small town to Lawrence, Kansas where lots of big college town. Um, and then they , they do have a lot more foreign exchange students there. And then I went, ended up going to Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. Um, and so luckily with me going to a college town , um, like moving to a college town later in life, and then also going to college, I, I was able to find more resources. Um, and I, I ended up being able to become friends. I , uh, friends with a lot of international students, I purposely signed up to be an international student, like mentor , um, kind of thing, where you would like mentor them, help them with their student life on campus. And I would actually ask for , um, most likely like someone from an Asian country, so to kind of help with that. And I know , um, I worked a little bit for the Asian market here in town and that taught me a lot. Um, honestly right now, the best way to really educate yourself is just get on Google, get on Google and start looking at stuff. Um, look up the hashtags that were , that we've been using, like the stop Asian hate stop , the , um , API, Hey , you know, we're not of our stock kind of thing. Start looking at those , um, ask your Asian friends, like honestly straight ask us, literally makes us smile. Just ask us any questions you have , um, that you can help educate yourself that way and support your Asian businesses. That's a huge thing too right now. And honestly, probably you could go into one of those businesses and talk to them about it. They would love to talk about it. So that's the best way I would say is to educate yourself.

Judy:

Well, I think, I think some people are afraid to ask those questions and to really ask, I mean, I found your post on Facebook and I thought this is such a well-written it's so such a thoughtful , um, description of, of what it must have been like growing up. But also there was the , um, the future forward about, and one thing I love that you wrote, it feels like it's the right time in history for Asian Americans to voice their own stories and for others to advocate for them. And that's what I think people like me need to understand is how then can we be an advocate? And, and should we are it's important for us to speak up, right?

Anna:

Yes. Oh definitely. Um, honestly, any anyone there's no wrong. That's why it's frustrating to me to see some people from the Asian community and he's telling us like, Hey, no, don't do this. Don't help us. Like, you're not a part of it. Honestly, this is my opinion as an Asian adoptee, but I would love it if everyone, no matter what race they are spoke up and helped us don't care about the race, just speak up, help us out, show us your support. Um, that's what we care about. Um, and I have other Asian adoptee friends I've been talking to and they are the same exact way. Um, maybe there's maybe one or two that doesn't feel the same, but I honestly don't think that that's correct. In my opinion, I think that's just leaving people out, which is the whole thing we're trying to avoid. Adoptive parents are any, any communities, whether or not people want to advocate and help us just ask us how we can , like what we, how we feel they care.

Judy:

Well, and, and Anna, what is that question we should, we should start with, it's just, how are you doing with all of this? How are you doing? Or what can I do? I mean, what should we do? What's what's our first step.

Anna:

That is actually a great question. So I'm going to look up actually , um , something from a coworker slash friend of mine who reached out to me , um, cause honestly, when she reached out to me, it was the greatest thing ever. I was so happy about it. She reached out to me and when she saw one of my posts, she said , um, thank you so much for sharing this. I'm so sorry that this is something you and your community are facing today. And every day , everything about this makes my heart ache for you and others in your shoes. Please let me know if there's anything I can do to help you support, help support you in this time. That last sentence is exactly what we need. Please let me know if there's anything that I can do to help support you in this time. That's all you need to say. That's all you need to say to us. And honestly, I was just respond back and I was so happy. Like thank you so much for reaching out and even just asking us like, Hey, tell me your story. Tell me where your adoption story. Tell me like the things you face you've challenged because later on, she followed up and asked me that, and that made my day. I was so happy. I'm like, Oh my gosh, this person cares. So , um, it was awesome. And she helped a lot. She shared my story. She shared my posts . So honestly that right there.

Judy:

Well, and that's, that's why I reached out to you because I thought you , we need to get this information out. We need to make it clear that sometimes it's the simple communication that can help break down some of these barriers. And I do think every day we're still seeing instances of racism and violence. And I think we need to keep, keep talking and keep communicating. And are there any last words you would, you would share for, for people of all races and all cultures, but who live, live all around the world who are seeing this go on?

Anna:

Um, I guess my, my, my thing I would share is just , um, keep sharing those posts that you're seeing from the Asian communities, from your Asian friends, keep sharing them, reach out to them. Like I said, and just say, is there anything I can do? Um, like support your, your Asian community, support your Asian businesses. I keep doing that. And the biggest thing is share, share, share, and, and communicate with us and message your friends and family in those communities. And ask us how we're doing

Judy:

Anna Rochelle Rangel. I appreciate you talking with me and I think it is important as you said, it's the right time in history for Asian-Americans to voice their own stories and for others to advocate for them. Thank you for joining me. Thank you. Thank you for listening to Stories of Change and Creativity. Check out the show notes for more information about this episode, you can find this podcast on any of your favorite streaming platforms. If you have a story to tell or know someone who does reach out to me at judyoskam .com . Thanks for listening.