On Appropriation (Part 3)

I feel that it is important to point out here that my parents tried. They moved from Oklahoma to California so that I might have a better, friendlier life. My bookcase at home was filled with Korean fairy tales and books on Korean adoptees. I even went to Korean Identity Matters camp one summer. It’s possible that I was initially excited by the idea of this cultural heritage camp, but when camp became a reality I experienced it as a punishment rather than a privilege. I felt very far away from everything I knew and my anxiety as this loss of the familiar sent me into a tailspin that lasted the duration of camp and was only interrupted by the similar but lesser loss I felt once my parents arrived to claim me at the end of camp.
My experience of my Korean identity was bound to my transracial adoption and the looks and questions I was subject to transformed this so-called heritage into what I thought of as the signifier of my alterity. No matter how hard my parents tried I seemed preordained to become fastened between Korea and California. This strange residence between two states that seemed insurmountable in their solidity made assimilation an anxiety-inducing guessing game that played me much more deftly than I played it.

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