I’ve just spent 20 minutes looking for a blog post that engages with this question – can Third Culture Kids be racist? And it might just be my poor Googling skills but I couldn’t find one. So here I am, writing it myself.
Something that reared its head again and again during my research with TCKs was what I’d describe as casual, covert racism. The kind of “I love this country but its people are…” or “They shouldn’t club together to speak (any language other than English) when here at school/in the dormitory.” This latter I described in my thesis as language imperialism. That’s a fancy academic term for racism. It’s just racist.
I’m aware I’m being very direct. And that this might be uncomfortable. I’m wondering if I should have cushioned this blog post more, opened with some affirmations that TCKs are very cosmopolitan, tolerant and open-minded… and then I remember that there is a fair amount of that content already out there. And that I’ve spend 20 minutes of my day looking for a different affirmation – that the Third Culture Kid experience is not a vaccine against intolerance or against racism.
I am a White adult Third Culture Kid. I grew up as a privileged minority in a majority Black country. But the critical element of that sentence is PRIVILEGE.
My Whiteness gave me protections, exclusions and considerations that my host country peers did not have access to.
My Whiteness gave me precedence in childhood games, where my preferences were deferred to.
My Whiteness made me the powerful Helper, rather than the grateful helpee, in endless social interactions.
My Whiteness contributes to my racial bias, my own racism.
Being a TCK does not make me immune from these. My time in Black host countries, my Black friends do not protect me from the the insidious effects of privilege. As I wrote in this post, experiences of mobility does not automatically elevate me from these issues.
We can be racist. We are racist. And my time spent with Black and POC TCKs and listening to their stories is hard data that racism exists even within our most multicultural of communities.
We have to hear these stories. We have to look at where our privilege deafens us.
Here are some starting places:
We have to listen. And learn. And fight racism. Even and especially from within ourselves.