Racism Files

Is It Better To Raise a Black Child in the US or Abroad?

August 10, 2015
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In the US, black kids get harassed and murdered by police. In Korea, black kids are shunned. Which is better?

This is part of the Racism Files series. Read the FAQ here.

I came across this YouTube video by an adorable married couple (J Hearts J) who talked about where they should raise their future child.

He is from Korea, and she is American. After living in Korea for a while, they decided to move to the US. In the 15 minute long video, they debate about one of the reasons for doing so: raising a mixed race child, and whether this would be easier in the US or Korea.

On Friday, 19 year old Christian Taylor was killed by a rookie police officer in Arlington, Texas. Yesterday, police in Indianapolis, Indiana  killed 15 year old Andre Green. Green is the youngest black child to be killed by police since 12 year old Tamir Rice died last year in Cleveland, Ohio. Black children are more likely to be disciplined at school even though they are not more likely to misbehave. Teachers have lower expectations for black children. Black kids are also incarcerated at much higher rates. And once they become adults, the statistics about incarceration and police brutality only become worse. I’ve heard black people talk about moving abroad, or raising their kids abroad because of the way we’re treated here, and I don’t blame them.

But racism exists everywhere, and one way or another, black/darker skinned people are treated like shit all over the world. Korea is no different. A foreign teacher wrote this comment on the YouTube video:

I am an English teacher in Korea now. My experience with having mixed students in the class (Korean and Filipino) or just darker skinned students have over all been negative. The students tease them and they seem to be a little more uncomfortable in the class and around their peers. When it is time to do pair work or group work the other students complain. It’s sad and unfortunately, even though you as your child’s mother will hope to have a greater influence on your children than their peers… at a younger age that’s usually not the case. The teasing and taunting will be stressful to the child no matter how many times you tell them they are beautiful…I do also see your point about America. Things are not very good over there but speaking on terms of your child having friends and not being teased… America might be better. Korea is getting there though on accepting other races.

I was considering taking a job in Korea earlier this year, but I was kind of dreading it because of everything I see whenever I Google “racism in Korea.” For example:

So, where would I raise my child? Probably in America. It’s not perfect over here, but we try. I’d rather live in a place where ethnic and racial diversity are valued, where people of different races and cultures at least make an attempt to get along, rather than a place where I or my child would feel like outsiders everywhere we go.

So, which is better: to live in a society like Korea where you won’t get killed, but will be discriminated against and treated like an outsider? Or to live in the US, where racism is openly discussed and where POC have a community, but where the police and some white people will shoot you dead at the drop of a hat?

Let me know in the comments, and watch the video below. (Don’t forget to turn on the subtitles.)


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  • Reply Erin August 11, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    Interesting post, and a topic I’ve thought about before. I have the privilege of not fearing for my life in police custody, so the stakes are nowhere near as high for me. But after living in Spain for two years, I’d want to raise our children in the states (and ideally a diverse city). I’d already experienced being one of very very few Asian American kids in my K-8 school, but it’s been even harder being the only Asian American that many people here will ever meet, and now I’m an adult.

    I understand that my existence (and the hypothetical existence of my children) helps educate the ignorant, but it’s exhausting and as a parent I’m going to try to protect my children from feeling as vulnerable as I have. It’s not their responsibility to educate people by suffering their racism.

    • Reply Keziyah August 12, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Exactly. People of color aren’t walking encyclopedias. If people want to learn about us, they need to be respectful about it, or just use Google.

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