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Having Mixed-Race Kids Doesn't Make You Non-White

Do white parents become "less white" when they have non-white kids? That question is burning up my Facebook feed right now, thanks to an essay in the New York Times last week.

In the piece published in Motherlode, Jack Cheng (a Chinese American man married to a white woman) writes of his wife:

"She became less white when our son, and then our daughter, were born. I think the first bit of doubt surfaced the day we were on the subway with our newborn and a woman came up to my wife and said: 'Oh, he's so cute! When did you adopt him?' I was livid: Did it not occur to this woman that the father was sitting right next to his wife and child?"

But that's not becoming less white.

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Is she experiencing a bit of racial discomfort?

Is she being singled out for random, invasive questions based on the way her family looks?

Do her children sometimes wish they could look like the people they see on TV and in the movies?

Is she getting a sample of what non-white people go through on a regular basis?

Yes, to all of the above. Yet none of that makes her less white.

It's eye-opening and sometimes infuriating when you see how the world treats your loved ones differently than it treats you. And for a mama bear (or papa bear), the claws instinctively come out. I remember one time when I was walking around a trendy neighborhood after a dinner out with my husband's family. Some drunk college students yelled a racial slur at me. My white relatives were incensed, but I just kept on walking. You learn to pick your battles.

It just seems disrespectful and offensive to proclaim yourself as Asian (or Latino or black) because you're married to someone who is or the parent of kids who are.

As an Asian American woman, I experience that all the time.

And as a parent of mixed-race children, I get the questions, too.

Is your husband Asian?

Is your husband white?

How did you meet your husband?

Why are there so many Asian women married to white men?

Are you teaching your kids Chinese?

Why aren't you teaching your kids Chinese?

Can you say something in Chinese?

Of course, it's not always that way. We live in a diverse metropolitan area and most people around me are racially tolerant—or sophisticated enough to act like they are. In fact, some people might assume that because I'm married to a white person and my children are part white, that I'm becoming less Asian. Sometimes, I sip Pinot Grigio and discuss "Wolf Hall." Other times, I drink boba and talk about the casting for the live-action version of "Mulan." Either way, I'm still Asian. Or rather, I'm so AZN (^_^).

While I might be able to move in different circles and enjoy a variety of cultures, that doesn't change the fact that my skin is golden, my nose is wide and sometimes people assume I'm a Tiger Mother. Or the manicurist. Or that I should be taking their General's Chicken order.

I think it's a good thing that white parents are becoming more aware of the discrimination, self-hatred, and just generally complicated experience of being American—but not white. But it just seems disrespectful and offensive to proclaim yourself as Asian (or Latino or black) because you're married to someone who is or the parent of kids who are.

RELATED: Things People Say About Asian Parents

I'm all for white parents being allies to communities of color. Expose your mixed-race kids to role models who look like them. Honor their culture. Speak up against injustice. Just don't say you're not white.

Photograph by: Adel Vardell photography

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