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what happens when you don’t look like your parents

This 2015 video addresses the everyday experiences of adopted and/or mixed raced individuals who look different from their parents or families. The video shows a diverse range of adopted or mixed race people talking about experiences such as the misunderstandings and confused comments they experience, people trying to place identity categories onto them that they do not fully identify with, issues of belonging, what it is like growing up in families where your parents or other family members either do not look like you or have a different heritage than you, and the ongoing development and negotiation of their identities. For example, one of the women describes what it’s like to grow up as a Black woman with White parents and a White brother, a man describes raising mixed race kids and teaching them about race, ethnicity, and their Central American and Indonesian backgrounds, one woman describes her upbringing with Danish and Indian parents, another describes Mexican and Scottish parents, a man describes being adopted from Peru by White parents, and another man describes his Filipino, half Black, and White siblings, all of whom were adopted by their White parents.

Related BuzzFeed videos addressing stereotypes and identity include, “I’m Muslim, But I’m Not…,” “I’m Latino, But I’m Not…,” and the “I’m Asian, But I’m Not…” videos. BuzzFeed is an American internet-based news and entertainment company known for producing content that is popular culture/entertainment-oriented and easily sharable and engaged with through social media. While they also produce news articles, most BuzzFeed content is in quick to digest image and graphics-based forms such as lists, quizzes, and short videos.


What kinds of experiences are the people in the video describing? Why do you think other people have difficult reactions, or feel the need to comment about children not looking like their parents or other family members? What are they saying about how these kinds of comments affected them growing up and as adults?

What did the people in the video say about identity and belonging? How have people tried to police or define their identities, and what kind of impact did it have on them? Why are some identity categories still thought of as “either or,” when they can be “both” or “multiple?”

What is the difference between racial, ethnic, religious, and national identity? In what ways are these categories fluid and intertwined? Which of them are associated with physical features? Why is it important to recognize that while these categories are historically rooted in “science” based on biology and physiology, that they are in fact 1) socially constructed, and 2) change over time and context?

When and how do we learn which categories we “fit” into? Are these identity categories self-defined or do people place them on us? Can we choose to not be defined in these categories? Who has the privilege of choice?

How can parents and families who adopt or have children of different or mixed racial, ethnic, or national backgrounds learn about and support the racial, ethnic, or national identity development of their children?

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