I sat down next to my father who was less than 48 hours away from just having his liver and kidney transplant at Mayo. It finally happened, just like that. He was alert and coherent and I wanted to connect with him, but how? How could I relate to him? After all, I’ve never had a transplant. What was dad feeling? What was he thinking?
I looked at him and picked up this sense that Dad seemed to be in two places at once, internally. Dad has never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeves. He’s reflective, but not very expressive. He’s got a lot going on inside, but is usually a bit reserved.
But this time, Dad’s presence didn’t feel like reservation. He didn’t feel like he was lost in his thoughts. He felt very present, but just present in more than one space, and I wanted him to talk about that other space.
Mom was busy talking, telling us about all the amazing parts that lined up perfectly in order for this surgery to go smoothly. Like if Dad had started dialysis, which he was getting ready for when he got the call, there would’ve been obstacles because of the blood thinner. I was intently watching my Dad, while my mom was talking. I could tell Mom was elated but also very tired.
Finally, Mom paused and asked if there was anything I wanted to ask Dad. I said “Yes, and Mom, you stay quiet and don’t answer for him!” She laughed then agreed.
It was silent and I asked Dad this: “When you’re sitting in your room here alone, what comes to your mind or heart? What do you think or feel?” Dad got a little choked up and became tearful, then said “Amazement.” He said he was in “Awe”. I then asked him if he felt humbled by all this because he also had mentioned the donor. You see, we don’t know anything about the donor other than he was a younger male, and his organs were healthy enough to donate. But, he himself could not survive due to a severe traumatic brain injury. The donor’s family reached the difficult decision to take him off life support, and donate his organs. And this gave Dad a chance to live a life he could not otherwise have lived.
I could immediately see a connection. “Oh, this is kinda like adoption.” Both of my parents paused and looked at me. Then nodded their heads and said “Yes!” The room was silent. As for me, I reflected about this donor’s family being somewhere out there, deeply grieving a loss of life. At the same time, our family was so grateful for my dad to have a second chance at living. The paradox. The complexity. The space of “both/and”. Transplants which involve a dying organ donor has a lot of mixed feelings. Acknowledging that these organs were being donated because the person could no longer survive, yet this opens up the door for another life to go on.
Loss. Grief. Death. These all preceded my father getting the transplant. Now, this young man’s organs are helping to sustain my father’s life, a tragedy turned into a life-giving gift. We are all celebrating this, yet also holding onto this other family’s experience with deep compassion and gratitude for their decision to donate organs, wherever and whoever they are.
It’s similar to adoption. There is both loss and a chance at a new life, wrapped together.
Mom followed up asking me if I would write more about this. It really touched her. It’s the paradox of life, yet it seems this is how God is a Master Weaver, using all things for the highest good. Through tragedy, new life can come.
This is how I understand God works, She brings new life and beauty from ashes. It IS amazing, Dad.
Simply, amazing. Just like you.
I confess, I’m developing a reactive racial bias, but it’s creating balance, to correct an imbalance within. Though it may seem like all biases create imbalance, like everything else, there’s context to be considered. Read on…
I’m starting to feel more comfortable around POC (see image). In general, I experience POC as more humble, approachable, and down to earth. This conscious observation is very new to me. I’m growing into my own skin. I’m
accepting celebrating who I am, from the outside, in.
I didn’t grow up with a positive association towards POC modeled to me. I believe society and my parents (albeit subconsciously) didn’t, hold POC in a consciously positive, or at least overtly positive, light. This is not because my parents are immoral or cruel. They, like everyone else, self included, were conditioned by their culture. And when you are privileged with race, class, gender, or whatever – it’s easy to be ignorantly ignorant. It takes more effort to actually become as my 14 yr old daughters says – “woke”. In other words, have no idea that you’re ignorant unless you intentionally and humbly look, with trusted accountability.
Embracing my POC status feels very empowering and self-respecting, and healing. This isn’t a grandiose form of empowerment which degrades others in order to feel good. It’s bringing about a healing leveling playing field, from within.
Would this evolving bias offend some people? Perhaps. Like who? -I’m suspecting those who have subconscious white fragility. A telltale sign of this if if you’re white, and pointing that fact out causes offense, and yet believe they are not impacted much by their racial status. This kind of mindset makes it hard to hear someone like me, who has struggled with racial identity. This racial discord as a trans-racial adoptee, is something I always felt but not on a conscious level. I steered clear from this area, until recently.
Without any language, I’ve experienced dissonance around my racial identity and didn’t have people I could open up to about this. I’ve found that race is controversial, unless (broadly speaking) you’re in an echo-chamber of those who are just like you. This was a very complacent but dull part of my identity. I isolated about this because it did make people noticeably uncomfortable and defensive. I grew
accustomed numb to it be means of “adaption” or “assimilation” and therefore this watered a shame-based way of existing.
I am starting to really feel proud of being a POC (person of color). And…
it’s about damn time.
I grew up wishing (secretly) soooo intensely, that I had curly or at least, blonde hair, blue eyes, and was of course, white. I (subconsciously) loathed the undeniable fact that I was not white. I didn’t have natural blonde hair or blue eyes. This shame was complicitly supported by means of something powerful because it’s invisible – silence.
Unaware that this “thing” called “internalized racism” existed, I was profoundly but ignorantly plagued by it. I developed ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that supported or colluded with the notion that “white is normal”, or at least was oblivious to this illogical, surreptitious, and pervasive, white supremacy/”normalcy” lens. Whatever was considered “white” in the culture, was “standard”, meaning: “right”, “best”, or “normal”. Anything in the culture or about me that wasn’t considered in-line with this white standard was considered, deviant or aberrant, simply because it was different. Different from what? – whiteness.
So, I confess. I have this bias. I am starting to gravitate towards POC. I hope I’m not too awkward by my noticing this more. I know, it’s weird, because I am one, too. A POC. But, I have not embraced, let alone cherished it. I’ve maybe accepted or “tolerated” my racial identity at most.
I’m inspired by POC who are proud to be POC. Who notice the differences, in a POSITIVE and FAVORABLE light, not just a “tolerable” one and can break this silence of complicit white supremacy.
I (like my white parents) have been brainwashed by white supremacy, except they’ve subconsciously had advantages from this, I haven’t. Aka. white privilege. Sorry, I know that’s a buzz word for some white people. How dare I draw attention to your racial identity! Well, I dare. POC are used to this, being referred to by their race by people of a different (the majority) race, all the damn time. “This Asian girl” “This black guy” “This Native woman” “That Hispanic kid”. Rarely do you hear white people saying “this white man”.
I’m now, in a phase of conscious deconstruction and deprogramming in many aspects of my life, that I took for granted. As a KAD (Korean Adoptee) of white parents I have transracial, white privilege. Yeah, it’s complicated. Race IS. This is probably why I didn’t question my race for a long time, because it was the water I swam in and nobody in my immediate circles growing up talked openly about it either. This started to shift in adolescents, but I didn’t have adults I could talk to about my cognitive dissonance being transracial.
In adulthood, reflective deconstruction and reconstruction is taking place spiritually, socially, politically, philosophically, and emotionally – I am sometimes a hot mess driven by my inner maverick. It’s a lifelong process of becoming “woke”. For me, deprogramming from mainstream culture or at least the predominant subculture I grew up that didn’t acknowledge my differences within my social environment (white, suburban, Evangelical culture) is an ongoing process of discovery and self-affirmation, in the awoken beautiful face of…
This feels, freeing. It frees up space inside for me to occupy – me, and love it. I’m liking my racial identity and affinity towards POC, that does not white out, me.