62 – Cultural Reflections: Adopted & Childfree with Amanda B.

Continuing to explore the parallels in various cultures, we’re celebrating AAPI month by exploring the world of childfree adulthood with Amanda from Six Degrees of Cats podcast in Part 1 of this two-part episode.

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Where do Latinidad and East Asian/Midwestern cultures overlap? You’d be surprised! And despite their radically different upbringings, Amanda and Paulette have un chingo in common. Amanda shares her journey as a transracial Korean adoptee, highlights the importance of community—and where she ultimately found hers—discusses the impact of toxic cultural norms, and reflects on her experiences in different countries.

We’re left wondering, how much does our upbringing, and a lack of community in those crucial formative years, impact our childfree adulthood?

About Amanda B.:
Amanda B. (she/her) is the writer, host and producer of 6 Degrees of Cats, the world’s #1 cat-themed culture, history (and sometimes science) podcast. She leverages her background in research, mental health advocacy, professional development and trauma-informed violence prevention to thoughtfully connect topics as disparate as sainthood, Vikings and Valentine’s May to the world’s most populous domesticated pet (…or are they?). Amanda has consulted in creative direction, education and community development and volunteers as sexuality and relationships expert on free youth mental health app OkaySo.

Amanda is also a musician – she leads NYC-based rock ‘n’ roll band, Leathered and has supported major recording artists as a guitarist on international stages. Her cats Binky and Snuggles do not appreciate her impromptu serenades.

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[00:00] Paulette: Buen día, mi gente, and welcome to La Vida Más Chévere de Childfree Latinas, the only Spanglish podcast for childfree Latinas y Latines, who are designing their best lives by actively letting go of the toxic cultural brainwashing we all grew up with. I’m your host and the childfree Latina, Paulette Erato.

[00:22] Today we’re continuing on the theme of parallels with other cultures. Since May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, I’ve asked the host of my favoritest podcast ever, Amanda from Six Degrees of Cats, to come on the show. You’ll hear more about her background as a transracial Korean adoptee in a moment, and it’s rather unique.

[00:45] As you’ll hear us say later in this episode, one of the best ways to unlearn and undo the damage of the toxic culture we all live in is to build community. Especially with people who seem different from you, because none of us are all that different from each other. We can usually find common ground if we’re willing to.

[01:07] And today’s guest is a great one to include in your community. Amanda is point blank, one of the kindest souls you’ll ever meet. They don’t make people like her very often. Not only is she incredibly intelligent, educated, traveled and talented, she is a bonafide rockstar, yo! And best of all, she’s my friend.

[01:33] And if it wasn’t for podcasting, I’m not sure we would have ever met. As a bonus, she’s also childfree. And we’ll discuss how her background as an adoptee, who doesn’t look like her parents, played into that. Heads up! This is a two part episode. Amanda is such a gifted storyteller, seriously when you go listen to Six Degrees of Cats, you’ll hear exactly what I mean, that I didn’t want to take too much out of this episode just for time, so I simply split it in two.

[02:03] And just like I’ve done in the past with two part episodes, you won’t have to wait the full two weeks to get the next installment. The second part will be out next Tuesday. Yay! As Amanda tells her story, you’ll hear the subtle and maybe not so subtle ways that we receive messages about parenthood being the ultimate goal.

[02:21] She talks about the things that made her ambivalent about being childfree, a title and identity she wasn’t even aware of until we met. Which is funny, and I say this later in the episode, because it wasn’t until I started doing this show that it became an identity for me either. Strange how that works, huh?

[02:41] You’ll notice through her story how many times Amanda has changed course in her life and how she’s changed her mind about really big stuff like grad school, where she found or created her community and designed a life outside of the quote unquote life script. Outside of the mainstream. You know, some of those themes we cover pretty often here on La Vida Más Chévere.

[03:04] Let me read you a short bio on Amanda and then we’ll jump into the episode. Amanda B, she/her, is the writer, host, and producer of Six Degrees of Cats, the world’s number one cat themed culture, history, and sometimes science podcast. She leverages her background in research, mental health advocacy, professional development, and trauma informed violence prevention, to thoughtfully connect topics as disparate as sainthood, Vikings, and Valentine’s Day to the world’s most populous domesticated pet. Or are they? Amanda has consulted in creative direction, education, and community development. And volunteers as a sexuality and relationships expert on the free youth mental health app, OkaySo.

[03:48] Amanda is also a musician. She’s led New York city based rock and roll band, Leathered, and has supported major recording artists as a guitarist on international stages. Her cats, Binky and Snuggles, do not appreciate her impromptu serenades because they’re cats who are gonna cat. Anyway, one last thing.

[04:09] This was a bit of a mess on my end because somehow I kept banging my microphone. I even broke my wedding band in the middle of the recording. So excuses if you hear any of that. I actually preserved that on a reel so you can go check that out. Anyway, let’s go get to know Amanda. Y’all, we are chatting with Amanda today.

[04:31] Amanda, is one of my dearest podcasting besties. She is the feature of today’s Non-Mom May challenge and party for my birthday that’s coming up later this week. She is the amazing creative talent and host and creator of the Six Degrees of Cats podcast, which is a treat. If you have not gone to check out this podcast, you are missing out on some of the best pop culture commentary that you don’t even realize is pop culture commentary because you think you’re hearing about cats. You’re only kind of hearing about cats. The only way to describe this is clever.

[05:17] Amanda: Oh my gosh, I am so flattered and I can only reflect back all that love and those accolades.

[05:23] I just love how we have so many mutual podcast and creative friends. And also I feel like I’ve just gotten to know other folks who I also want to be like, tap on the shoulder. Hey, would you like to be on my podcast? Because I’ve learned so much from them through La Vida Más Chévere. So thank you for having me, Paulette.

[05:39] I’m honored.

[05:40] Paulette: I met Amanda through podcasting and it turned out she was this fabulous human being who was going to be in LA just before I left for Puerto Rico. So we got to meet, we got to have coffee, and I was like, Oh my God, if you lived in Los Angeles, I would spend all of my time with you. And honestly, I’ve never, I’ve never felt so connected to another human heart as when you and I met that day in Los Feliz, right?

[06:05] Amanda: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

[06:07] Paulette: And your background is incredible. Can you please? Give us as much of the story of who Amanda is and how you became this DEI advocate, this volunteer mental health advocate, this leader of a band. You are the coolest freaking person. Look, y’all, if it sounds like I’m fangirling, I am.

[06:31] Amanda: Oh, my gosh. I know I’m doing something right, not always getting that feedback in my life when I have people like Paulette on my side. I am a transracial Korean adoptee. I was raised in West Michigan, which is not the place of my people. West Michigan nature is beautiful. Interesting culture. I went to college at University of Michigan and I studied psychology.

[06:57] Originally, I was going to study astronomy and astrophysics, which obviously worked out. Look at me now, NASA. Just kidding. But what I did find is I love research. I love to learn. I love exploring. And I love to understand the many inner workings of this universe, the inner workings of culture. Which I think will come back in a second when I finally get to where I am now, right?

[07:18] Wink wink. So I moved abroad. I lived in Japan for five years out of college because I graduated a little before I thought I would and I thought, well, if I’m going to go to grad school or have any type of study that requires me to understand humans. I should meet other types of people and I want to not have to pay to travel because I can’t afford that.

[07:40] So I was like, I need to not go to grad school right now. I thought that was going to be happening within a couple of years and that changed as well. But I lived in Japan for five years. I originally went there to teach English. Then I stayed on. I got hired at a kind of a interesting business English, I don’t know how to describe it, startup?

[07:59] And so I was doing training and learning and development and education for that. That kind of brought me to New York when I decided to move back to the States. I got hired at a tiny little place that trained me for a month in Japan and then had me come out to New York. And then I worked in Alzheimer’s research cause I thought I was going to go to grad school, coming back to that.

[08:20] Didn’t actually, haha, but I did learn a lot through understanding research and I found my passion really was helping people and even more importantly, I really appreciated helping people who were not seen or valued in society. And I used to say elderly folks, they are the most underused, underappreciated, undervalued natural resource in the world.

[08:44] And I learned that through, through Alzheimer’s research. And prior to that, I thought I was going to go to grad school for geriatric psychology. So when Paulette, you’re talking about my podcast, it’s a cat themed culture, history, and science podcast called 6 Degrees of Cats. And it really brings together all of these questions I have about the world.

[09:01] From the meta questions about what is the universe made of and why are we all having these feelings about it or not having these feelings about it? Why do elderly people get associated with cats? What’s that? So, you know, we ask those types of questions. And then the creative side, which you alluded to, I’m a musician and I’ve always had that in the background of everything.

[09:21] I never thought of it as a career, although, increasingly, it is becoming more part of my career. That really helped me because I love the sound design aspect of podcasting, too. And I happen to occasionally get hired to play guitar for other bands. I have a band of my own. So that was a very long winded,

[09:40] Paulette: Not even.

[09:41] Amanda: This is about me thing.

[09:42] Paulette: So the reason that Amanda’s on is because, one, she is a fabulous human being. Point blank, we could stop there. The other is she’s childfree, but we’re trying to, like, one of my last episodes with Shweta, she’s Southern Asian. We’re drawing parallels between our various cultures and backgrounds.

[10:02] And Amanda’s cultural background is so interesting because she was adopted at such a young age and raised in the Midwest, which is not something I understand because I grew up on the, on the coast, right? Like, it’s different. You live in New York now. That’s not Michigan.

[10:17] Amanda: Right.

[10:18] Paulette: So. There’s all these regional differences between us. There’s the racial difference. There’s the fact that you are an adoptee that is in its own class. And then also you went to go live in Japan for five years and I know you didn’t speak Japanese when you got there. So how did that work?

[10:36] Amanda: No, I did not.

[10:37] Paulette: We’ll get to that. We’ll get to that. So anyway, fabulous human being who just has such a remarkable unique background.

[10:43] Let’s tackle the childfree question right off the bat.

[10:46] Amanda: Yeah, let’s do it.

[10:47] Paulette: How much of that played into it? Did you just know, or is it that you’re like, I don’t want to do that to someone else?

[10:53] Amanda: I love that you’re asking that question. Some fun anecdotes to illustrate this. I’m very close to my family.

[10:59] They’re my family. And when I say family, they’re not my biological parents, but they, didn’t ever put pressure on me to have kids. Although in the background, there will be comments here and there, which we can unpack lovingly because there was no bad intent. But I think there was the assumption that I would just do what everybody in my family had done and stay in Michigan.

[11:24] And so, sometimes we would see, very rarely we would see a child who was like mixed Asian, you know, East Asian, mixed East Asian and like a lighter complected race and, “oh, that might be what my future grandchild looks like.”

[11:39] Paulette: Oh, that’s fun.

[11:41] Amanda: And yeah, and I mean, to be fair, I mean, the first 18 years of my life, I had no people in community who were East Asian, really.

[11:49] I had some friends, but my community was mostly white folks. Um, my best friend in high school and junior high school, she is Mexican American.

[11:58] Paulette: Ooh, yay.

[11:59] Amanda: And, yes, yes. And now, actually, I think she is a childfree Latina. So there’s that. As an adoptee, I’ve always been aware of, like, how are babies brought into a family, because I’ve always had to explain myself. And, you know, when you’re a little kid as an adoptee, I can only speak for myself, but I don’t think I’m the only one just like, oh, you can have these stories about yourself that you can make up and I’d be like, oh, maybe someday my quote unquote biological or real family will, will be the like king and queen of wherever, you know, like, you know, cause your friends would say those types of things. And it’d be kind of cute and fun.

[12:38] I had one of my best friends growing up, lifelong friends. She is transracial Korean. And I remember she had two children, boys, but then when she had her daughter, she reached out to this network, this community she’d built for herself of adoptee women, she was close with. And she said this wave of profound emotions came that that hadn’t come for her she had her sons because she imagined, she, she, was like, this is, this is what I probably looked like as a baby.

[13:17] And so those are three things that have informed my identity as somebody who was ambivalent about having a biological child. I don’t know. I mean, I, I’m going to ask you a question, Paulette, in a second, which is, I think part of having children comes with being seen as a reproductive partner, an eligible reproductive partner for somebody.

[13:40] And I phrase it that way because I don’t want to exclude the many amazing, wonderful people who have had children without a co parent who they identified as a romantic or domestic partner. But I’d never seen, been seen, like I was invisible in high school. It was a smart survival mode. We all know as like cis women, we don’t want to be seen that way.

[14:00] It always comes to bite you in the back because that’s how it is in this world. And I also was just like, I was so different. Like there were some dudes, you know, at the time it was always assumed I was like a straight cis woman and I just was mostly flying under the radar with the exception of some of the folks who would get to know me and become attracted to me.

[14:19] But I’d never saw myself as somebody who was going to be like, picked as somebody to be a mother with, to co parent with, right? I don’t know. Does that make sense? Like, do you think that being childfree, that there’s a, there’s a twinning to that with like desirability or being seen as like somebody that somebody wants to get with in that way.

[14:36] Does that make sense?

[14:38] Paulette: Yes, it does. I want to validate that for you. From my perspective, it never, I think I had divorced sex and baby making so early in my head that I never, to this day, I’m like, it is so ridiculous that this act is what leads to children.

[14:58] Amanda: Right!

[14:59] Paulette: So, I don’t think that for me, in my experience, desirability was in any way part of the equation to being childfree.

[15:06] I have said multiple times, I think I was just born this way because it’s the way that it, I feel that I am childfree in the same way that I am curly haired, that I am right handed and that I have brown eyes. These are things I can’t help about myself. Sure, I could straighten my hair, but the moment it gets I wet, it curls right back up.

[15:23] Sure, I could learn to write with my left hand, but that’s time and energy I don’t want to give. And sure, I could try to birth children, but that is a dangerous experiment for the child. That is not an ethical experiment that I am willing to take on. So no, I don’t think for me desirability was, was part of the equation, but I can understand the way that you describe it, how that could be.

[15:52] Amanda: Thank you so much for validating that. And also, as we talk, I just love having these discussions because there’s always revelations. The town I grew up in, I think, probably really heavily informed my perspective and understanding of, of, of bearing children, car carrying, gestating, and delivering a live fetus.

[16:09] I’m going to phrase it that way.

[16:10] Paulette: Sure.

[16:10] Amanda: It’s very technical. I had friends who had children when they were 14 or 15.

[16:14] Paulette: Oh my gosh.

[16:15] Amanda: Yeah. I, I, I went to baby showers when I was 16, 17, 15. And we had a nursery in our high school because it was a Catholic tiny town. In, in some good ways, the, the stigma of being pregnant in high school wasn’t, I mean, I’m sure there was, it just, it was different.

[16:32] I, I think it was a little bit more normal to have children very, very young. I guess I was mostly aware of the reproductive process because I was seeing it in my peers. And I, I think also maybe another aspect of why I see it that way is because I think also my race and ethnicity informs it. There’s different flavors of racism as we all love to know.

[16:54] The version I, I experienced in my twenties and thirties in cities in North America is different than the version I got in Europe, which is different than the version I got in, in small town America, which is usually like 20 years culturally behind, at least pre internet. And, yeah, being invisible really informed my experience.

[17:14] So maybe participating and having a child was part of the visibility of like being a part of mainstream culture just meant that. So I never really identified with mainstream culture and I have a feeling that goes hand in hand with just knowing children wouldn’t have anything to do with the choices I made in my life path either way.

[17:32] And identity wise, yeah, childfree is absolutely a label. I mean, I’m 42. I’m married. My partner, I think if we, if we had different financial circumstances, which I think now dictates a lot about my lifestyle, can’t tell you what, I mean, it’s, it’s a discussion, but it was never a goal. I certainly have so many friends who shaped their lifestyle and their choices around having children.

[17:55] For me, no, never factored in.

[17:58] Paulette: Yeah.

[17:58] Amanda: And I never got that pressure from my family either. Thank, thankfully.

[18:02] Paulette: That was going to be my next question.

[18:04] Amanda: Yeah. My dad passed in 2014, 2012. Boy, it’s funny. You’d think I’d have that, that year memorized. We were very close. I’d like to say we still are. I would have loved for him to have I have had the experience of grandparenting somebody who he saw as a mini me.

[18:27] Sorry, I’m getting really emotional, but we keep it real, you know, where this is why podcasts are so valuable. You know, I think, because I knew that was a beautiful thing, but it would have been for him. You know what I mean? Like, that’s not a reason that would motivate me to have children, but I imagine maybe that’s an alternate path, but look, my brother has three kids.

[18:44] He did that. That’s good. But really it’s, honestly, it’s only in that context that I really could even imagine myself having a child.

[18:51] Paulette: Yeah.

[18:53] Amanda: Which is a weird thing, but it isn’t a foreign to all of us, right? Like give us a grandchild, like that’s such a refrain.

[18:58] Paulette: We all at some point are forced to reckon with, well, if I did have a kid, what does that alternate reality look like?

[19:06] It’s a choose your own adventure kind of thing. And that is, you know, you always hear me say decisions are not life sentences, but having a child is one of those few exceptions. Like I said earlier, it’s not, it’s not an experiment that you can do ethically. That is a human person. And I think our country especially, has a hard time with empathy right now. I don’t think we have a lot of it. I think we are hyper individualistic as a culture. And you and I being kind of removed from the culture and yet not because we still live here, but we’re othered. We’re othered, let’s say.

[19:43] Amanda: Yes, yes, yes.

[19:45] Paulette: And I, it’s, it’s, it’s a lot. It’s a lot. And you know, the fact that as a society, We do not have social safety nets for families, for women leaving the workforce, for family planning even. We want to just offer abstinence only education. I’m sure that’s what your Catholic school excelled at, which is why they ended up having to have a nursery as opposed to maybe teaching people that these things are preventable.

[20:13] Amanda: Maybe saying, maybe let’s have some condoms in the nurse’s office and in the bathroom. I got laughed at when I suggested that. That is okay. Have fun with that.

[20:22] Paulette: Because keeping people in poverty by having children at 14, 15, 16 is a better idea.

[20:28] Amanda: Right.

[20:29] Paulette: And you know what? I was raised Catholic, so I, I understand it. I have a lot to say about the Catholic church.

[20:36] Amanda: Oh, friend.

[20:36] Paulette: Which we are not going to waste time with today, but it’s just, it’s maddening. It’s maddening that. All of these people’s choices weren’t even made available to them, because of the, of the lack of education. And that is still happening. Enough about that.

[20:57] Thank you for sharing that with me. I have never had another guest who pointed to wanting to be invisible or feeling invisible as part of their childfree story.

[21:08] Amanda: It just occurred to me now, and that’s why you’re such a great interviewer. I think that these conversations are, are so important because that’s how we, we put words to our experiences.

[21:17] And that’s for step one and two, just, just, just integrating them to who we are in a way that feels true to ourselves, right?

[21:23] Paulette: Yeah. There’s a portion in here I cut out because it was kind of an overwhelming thing for both of us about our respective fathers. But as I was listening back to it, it kind of reminded me of the man versus bear hypothetical you might’ve seen floating around lately on social media.

[21:43] And while it’s interesting commentary to add to the debate, it wasn’t needed in this episode. However, I did preserve it for the newsletter subscribers. So it’ll live over on Substack, which is my newsletter platform. The link for that is in the show notes, so you can check it out over there if you want to hear about some healthy masculinity for once instead.

[22:04] What we’re going to hear about now is Amanda’s cultural identity, which is an exercise especially us, Latines in America, grapple with too.

[22:13] We’ve talked about your childhood. Why don’t you tell us a little bit more about Japan? So what is it like as a Korean woman, to live in Japan? Wait, let me, let me back up and ask you, if you identify as a Korean woman, a Korean American woman, a Midwestern woman, like what, do you embody all of those?

[22:32] Do you pick and choose?

[22:34] Amanda: I think saying I’m a transracial Korean adoptee, for those who know, is very good to encapsulate it. I am Midwestern in a lot of ways, but I don’t embrace that as part of who I am because I really don’t, I don’t identify with it culturally at all. Yeah. I mean, I have an accent.

[22:55] Paulette: Do you?

[22:56] Amanda: Well, people who have heard it love to point it out to me and I’m not sure if it’s a term of endearment or if it’s like a classist thing, you know what I mean? Cause it’s, it’s seen as very folksy and I think it’s been helpful to disarm certain situations where people would otherwise not feel like I’m a familiar person to them.

[23:12] Paulette: Sure.

[23:13] Amanda: So I identify as transracial Korean adoptee. I am definitely American. Warts and all, you know, I think, uh, I am very American. And we people with the passport of American need to respect ourselves more in taking pride in that and doing better at rehabilitating that. Not that well, to be frank, it’s always been a terrible label in certain ways.

[23:36] I think there are things that Americans don’t get credit for doing, that they’re doing better than Europeans. As stressful as this racism dialogue is for everybody, everywhere, it’s not easy for anybody. I mean, it just isn’t. It’s, it’s awkward. It, it. It’s the collision of class and things that you have no control over and nobody has been given any type of scaffolding or language to navigate that.

[24:00] There is no mediator ever in the room. There’s no adults in the room in those discussions. There’s no adults in the room. I mean, frankly, there never were. But I value that at least now, and this wasn’t the case in the nineties. If I share an experience nine times out of 10, 9. 5 times out of 10, I don’t have to justify that I had that experience. Whereas, gosh, even 10 years ago, as an Asian American, East Asian American, I want to distinguish that because, you know, there’s a lot of diversity. We’re not a monolith. You know, “you don’t have racism. Aren’t you just basically white?” Which are just so absurd.

[24:43] Paulette: Oh my God. You know what though? That is yet another parallel you and I can draw on because as a light skinned Latina, I understand.

[24:54] Amanda: You know, I think they’re, that’s the wonderful thing about these conversations and I’m so grateful to be invited into your space because there is so much amazing cross community collaboration, especially during the labor movement between, specifically I want to shout out, you know, the Japanese American students who were galvanized through just the systemic stuff that led to the, you know, theft of their land and imprisonment during World War II.

[25:22] But, and, and like Mexican American labor movement as well with Delores Huertas and Chavez. And there’s a Chinese American and there’s a Japanese American labor organizer, student organizer. And we don’t talk about it. And there are so many instances. I feel solidarity with my black and my Latin American, Latino, Latina, Latine, Latinx, my Caribbean American friends, everybody in the movement.

[25:48] And yet the, the things that divide us are this false binary where we have to pick a side. And that side is not the side of any race against another. It’s the side against fricking white supremacy and capitalism.

[26:01] Paulette: The patriarchy and all its friends.

[26:03] Amanda: The patriarchy!

[26:03] Paulette: Yeah, I mean, you’re absolutely correct. And you speak exactly to the heart of everything I try to produce through this show that the lines that divide us are put there for a reason and it is not to better ourselves, it is because we are all subjects of the patriarchy. We are being pitted against one another artificially. These lines are not real and you’re right.

[26:27] You and I have wildly different upbringings and yet are able to connect across that divide. Because what divide?

[26:36] I’m like, what is there?

[26:38] Amanda: Yeah, exactly. You know, and I mean, this is not to deny the fact there’s serious anti blackness, there’s serious racism, classism in, in, in the Asian American communities, abso frickin lutely.

[26:50] And it’s very disheartening, frustrating, heartbreaking when I see that in motion. And it is, it’s systemic change that has to happen, but I think these conversations, these relationships are the antidote. It’s through connections through the heart, but it’s always gonna be that. It’s true, culture comes from the top in a lot of ways, but there’s, the resistance does come from the bottom.

[27:10] It comes from grassroots movements and relationships, honest, difficult conversations, and, and true connections that can only be forged through the hottest fires of like all of this crap that we have to move through together. And, yeah, being childfree is, is almost an act of resistance as well because of this narrative that, I mean, actually in my episode, my season finale, which you listened to, thank you so much, I interviewed a, a family studies scholar.

[27:39] And when I went to Michigan, actually, that changed my life. I took a course from the wonderful Regina Morantz-Sanchez, who was just this incredible researcher. She did this amazing class called the history of the United States, the family in the United States. And it just, it was like my dream podcast. She integrated all these socioeconomic theories by the theory of the supply chain and just brought it all together as to why is the world like it is now? How in the world did we end up in a world that says, work harder? We’re going to give you no tools, no resources. Oh yeah, why aren’t you doing better? You should be X, Y, Z by now.

[28:18] And it’s like, but we didn’t give you anything to do that.

[28:21] Paulette: Here, let us set you up for failure and then get mad at you when you fail.

[28:27] Amanda: And let’s now give you the keys to that shame, make you feel bad about it.

[28:31] Paulette: It’s your fault.

[28:31] Amanda: Because, oh, look, it’s your fault. Yeah. Exactly.

[28:35] Paulette: We’re about to hit a portion of the interview where some brown people especially may feel triggered or feel a certain way by the use of the term migrant laborer, since really we’ve only seen the term used to describe the mostly brown people in the US that pick the food. But since Amanda is one of the most, what’s that word that the right likes to use to describe anything it finds threatening? Oh, right. Woke.

[29:05] Since Amanda is one of the most woke people you’ll ever meet in the sense that she chooses her words carefully to be as inclusive as possible, I want you to sit in that discomfort, if you have any, and listen with open ears to what she’s really saying. It’s commentary on how we view expats versus immigrants. And she’s telling you that one is a classist term used by people with means. And the other is how we refer to people we look down on. And classism is one of those toxic cultural norms we gotta combat.

[29:41] Because if we think critically about what the term migrant labor actually means, it’s imported labor. Labor that can’t be done or is refused by the citizens of said country. And Amanda also very clearly says she didn’t suffer like migrant laborers do here in the U. S., so she’s aware of the power of the phrasing.

[30:04] Words matter, but so does context. Let’s continue. She’s also about to tell us how she was bingoed in Japan. If you’ve never heard the term bingo in relation to being childfree, I’ll link an explanation for you in the show notes.

[30:18] Amanda: It’s hard because I, I think there’s pride to be taken when you do something and you, you work very hard and you get somewhere.

[30:26] And I think that that’s the false narrative that exploits the blood, sweat, and tears that it takes to be an immigrant. I mean, gosh, coming back to the Japan situation, I was functionally illiterate. I was an immigrant. I was a migrant laborer. I was imported over there through the Japanese government to teach English.

[30:44] It was a very luxe situation. Very much relative. I would never cluster myself around that, but I mean, let’s be real here. The word expatriate is, it’s, it’s a classist term. I was a migrant laborer. I was an immigrant. And I remember it was very interesting because when I was there, I got a lot of… I don’t think it’s insulting to say it’s pretty retro.

[31:09] They have, they have very few gender based protections. They had a Me Too movement that is still kind of not, the reckoning is very different over there. And I was always asked, are you going to have children? I moved there when I was 21 and I stayed there until I was 27. I actually fell in love with a Japanese national and we were very serious and that’s why I stayed like two extra years.

[31:33] And it was always like, you know, you’re going to get married and have a kid. Not that you’re going to be a musician or you’re going to go to graduate school or you’re going to get hired into a role and work your way up. It was always that. So yeah, Japan was interesting. I will say that. And it just makes you look at America.

[31:50] And I think we have made progress in some of those things, at least in some ways, to come full circle to what I was saying about being American.

[31:58] Paulette: Do you think Japan has made progress? Get the answer to that question because it might not be what you expect, plus a lesson on how Koreans are the Irish of Asia?

[32:09] Have you heard of this before? We’re learning a ton of great stuff from Amanda, so tune in next week to hear more from her, and that’s a burrito.[32:17] Hey, mira, if this episode made you feel some kind of way, dígame, DM me on Instagram. If you want to be a guest to put your story out there too, check out the guest form on my website at pauletterato dot com slash guest. Yep, just my name, Paulette Erato dot come slash guest. Y no se te olvide que hay más perks when you join the newsletter. Todos estos links están en los show notes. Muchísimas gracias for your support y hasta la próxima vez. Cuídate bien.

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