Controversies about Adoptions of Chinese Babies By Non-Chinese American Families

In the United States, many Chinese children are adopted by non-Chinese Americans. According to the New York State Department, 64,043 Chinese children were adopted in the United States between 1999 and 2010, far more than from any other country (Leland). This is due in part to child abduction and trafficking which has become a huge issue for other international adoption programs.

In China, the One Child Policy was enacted to help reduce the population. This policy only allowed couples to have one child and in their culture, and having a male was preferred so they could inherit the family name, property, and were responsible for caring for their parents when they are older. Since couples were restricted to one child, having a daughter was undesirable, causing the number of female Chinese children to be abandoned or put into orphanages to rise. The policy was later modified to where exceptions were made to minority people or for those whose firstborn was disabled; those measures included allowing rural families in some areas to have two or even three children and permitting parents whose firstborn was a girl or who both were only children to have a second child and if they ended up having two daughters, the firstborn was kept while the other was abandoned.

Due to this policy, children who were abandoned were often taken and placed in or sold to international adoption programs. Some families however dealt with their babies being taken away by coercion, fraud or kidnapping. Sometimes they were even taken by government officials who covered their tracks by pretending that the babies had been abandoned. Babies were being seized from their parents and sold them into a lucrative black market in children (Leland, LA Times). Chinese children are still being taken from their parents and sold for trafficking and international adoption programs, which is why there are so many Chinese children, majority little girls, being adopted in the United States.

Note from Caroline: This is an important twist on what most American adoptive parents understood about adopting from China in the 1990s and early 2000s (which, as you see if you look through the LA Times or New York Times articles, was that adoptions placed children who could not be raised by Chinese parents who were poor or had given up their kids). 



Andrew, Anita M. “China’s Abandoned Children and Transnational Adoption: Issues and Problems for U.S.-China Relations, Adoption Agencies, and Adoptive Parents.” Journal of Women’s History, Johns Hopkins University Press, 21 Mar. 2007,

Custer, Charlie. “Kidnapped and Sold: Inside the Dark World of Child Trafficking in China.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 14 Apr. 2018,

Leland, John. “For Adoptive Parents, Questions Without Answers.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Sept. 2011,

Pletcher, Kenneth. “One-Child Policy.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 13 Feb. 2020,

“Stolen Chinese Babies Supply Adoption Demand.” Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Times, 20 Sept. 2009,


Synesthesia: An Introduction

“Synesthesia is a neurological condition in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive pathway (for example, hearing) leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory or cognitive pathway (such as vision)” (“Synesthesia”, n.d.). In other words, synesthesia is experiencing a sense normally, in addition to experiencing it with another sense. Most people who have synesthesia are either born with it or develop it early in life. However, there is research that shows it is possible to develop synesthesia later in life (Watson, n.d.).

The following are examples of how synesthetes experience the world collected by Siri Carpenter:

Guitar music doesn’t just tickle Carol Crane’s fancy–it also brushes softly against her ankles. When she hears violins, she also feels them on her face. Trumpets make themselves known on the back of her neck. In addition to feeling the sounds of musical instruments on her body, Crane sees letters and numbers in brilliant hues. And for her, units of time each have their own shape: She sees the months of the year as the cars on a ferris wheel, with July at the top, December at the bottom.

Sean Day, PhD, tastes in technicolor. “The taste of beef, such as a steak, produces a rich blue,” says Day, a linguistics professor at National Central University in Taiwan. “Mango sherbet appears as a wall of lime green with thin wavy strips of cherry red. Steamed gingered squid produces a large glob of bright orange foam, about four feet away, directly in front of me.”

There are some famous people who have synesthesia or had it while they were alive. Here are a few you might recognize: Mary J Blige, Duke Ellington, Billy Joel, Marilyn Monroe, Pharrell Williams, Kanye West, Charli XCX, Vincent Van Gogh, Eddie Van Halen, and Stevie Wonder (“Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know”, 2015) I find it very interesting that all of these people are artists.


Works Cited

Carpenter, S. (2001, March). Everyday fantasia: The world of synesthesia. Retrieved from

Famous People With Synesthesia That Everyone Should Know. (2015, January 6). Retrieved from

Synesthesia. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2020, from

Watson, K. (n.d.). What Is Synesthesia? Retrieved from

Vietnamese Introduction into the Nail Industry

In 1995, actress Tippi Hedren, also known as the Godmother of the nail industry, ran a program to help settle 20 Vietnamese refugee women in the United States. At the time, Hedren visited a refugee camp in Northern California, Hope Village, and empathized with the difficulties the women had faced in light of the Vietnam war. Most of the women refugees were the spouses of high ranking military officers who lost everything in the war–their houses, their families, and their livelihoods.

Hedren wanted to teach the women trade skills that they could use to support themselves in light of their new lives. Wanting to introduce skills that could easily be learnable due to the language barrier, Hedren brought in seamstresses and typists to teach the women acquirable skills. But instead, her nails caught their attention. After taking notice of this, Tippi Hedren had her personal manicurist visit the refugee establishment to teach the women how to manicure nails the ‘Beverley Hills’ way. This sparked the Vietnamese (and eventually other Asian immigrants’) interest in the nail industry.

The women went on to teach others the art of mastering the perfect manicure. Aside from their initial interest in Tippi Hedren’s nails, the women learned that they could get by working as manicurists with only a few basic English words under their belt, which increased their attraction to the profession.

Vietnamese involvement and interest in the nail salon business radicalized the industry. What were once $50 manicures and pedicures found back in the 1970’s are now being offered for $20. 40 years after Vietnamese induction into the business, over half of the nail salons (51% as of 2015) and 80% of the nail salons in California are found to be Vietnamese owned. Originally intended to introduce trade skills to refugee women, Tippi Hedren transformed the nail salon business into a primarily Vietnamese run 8 billion dollar industry.


Works Cited:

Center for Asian American Media. “Nailed It.” WORLD Channel, WGBH Educational Foundation ,

Garcia-Navarro, Lulu. “How Vietnamese Americans Took Over The Nails Business: A Documentary.” NPR, NPR, 19 May 2019,

Morris, Regan. “How Tippi Hedren Made Vietnamese Refugees into Nail Salon Magnates.” BBC News, BBC, 3 May 2015,

To, My Ngoc. “The Hidden Lives of Nail Artists.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 21 June 2017,

The Melting Pot: New York City

New York City is commonly referred to as the “Melting Pot” of America because of it’s massive diversity. There are over 8 million people living in the city currently and there are over 800 languages spoken within the city. The term melting pot originated in 1908 by Isreal Zangwill. At first, it was used as a metaphor to define the union of several cultures, ethnicities, and nationalities. The opportunities in New York have previously attracted and still do bring massive amounts of immigrants to the United States. Within New York City there are several small cultural communities such as China town and Little Italy in which ethnic groups have gathered to share their traditions.

Immigration to New York was at an all-time high in 1910 when 41% of New Yorkers were immigrants. Several ethnic groups from eastern and southern Europe were migrating to the United States for the promise of “new opportunities” and freedoms. Currently, over 5 million people, sixty percent of the population, are immigrants or children of immigrants. In 2000, the top three ethnic groups within the city were Jamaicans, Chinese, and Dominicans. The mixture of ethnicities allowed for several new trade skills to be introduced to the city. Religion across the city is so diverse that many traditional holidays from Jewish, Muslim, Catholic and other religions are traditionally respected in places of employment and across the city.

Food typically brings people from all backgrounds together. New York has a vast variety of restaurants and food because there are so many people from different cultures residing within the city. In “Little Italy”, the area is dedicated to traditional Italian lifestyle and dishes. The same goes for China Town, the people share their culture and traditions in a small part of New York. Today, the city embraces its cultural diversity and deems itself as the melting pot of America. The history even dedicates a week to immigrants called Immigrant History Week where the slogan last year was “New York loves Immigrants”.

New York: A Unique Immigrant City. (n.d.). In Footnotes . Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

New York City Melting Pot . (n.d.). In American Egg Board. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from

Singh, P. (2015, February 5). A Melting Pot of Immigrants . In The Peopling of New York City 2015. Retrieved February 23, 2020, from


The Iraq-Iran War

On 22 September 1980, Iraq invaded Iran to take over as the primary state in the Persian Gulf region. This came a year after the Iranian Revolution ended in 1979. Tensions between the two countries had often come to rise as there were often border disputes over oil-rich land. The invasion had begun when Iraq decided they were going to attempt to take advantage of the post-revolution unrest. This was later met with fast response by the Iranian government.

The Iraq-Iran war lasted for eight years before it was later ended by a ceasefire agreement chartered by the United Nations. This war was met with vast amounts of exception due to the questionable tactics used by both sides. This ranged from chemical warfare, attacks targeted on civilians, and the use of child soldiers. Throughout this time, the United States were keeping a close eye on the unrest due to the ongoing tension between the United States and Iranian militaries. Among these tensions, there were various other countries involved in the conflict. The United States, Britain, the Soviet Union and various other middle east countries all sided with Iraq and provided support both strategically, monetarily, and politically. This essentially left Iran to their own devices, isolated from support from any major country.

The war ended with 500,000 deaths of soldiers, 95,000 being child soldiers, of both Iranian and Iraqi descent while also reporting at least 100,000 civilian deaths from Iran and Iraq each. The Iran-Iraq war has often been compared to the likes of World War I due to the style of warfare. In the end, there was no clear solution resulting in none of the border disputes being settled and no justice being decided upon. This war had major implications upon the lives of the civilians in both countries. Left to live in a war-torn country with their lives destroyed from both the lives of family members being lost and also from having the cities they called home turned to rubble. The war went back and forth for years, leaving both countries in a state of economic despair.

The Iranian Revolution of 1979

The Iranian Revolution which ended in 1979, resulted in the removal of Iran’s last monarch and the creation of a new Islamic Republic.  Prior to the revolution, Iran was led by the Shah (emperor) Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Shah ruled Iran with an oppressive force that was seen as corrupt, intimidating, and intolerant of public criticism. However, he also sought to westernize Iran and was pressured by the U.S. to instate a national development program called the White Revolution.  This program disrupted the wealth and power dynamics of landowners and religious leaders, but it also catapulted Iran into a period of economic growth and prosperity. Despite some of its successes, the program created social disparities and was not accepted by everyone in Iran. Most notably, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was an outspoken critic of the White Revolution and the Shah’s government.

Khomeini was a professor and cleric who was exiled for speaking out against the Shah and his policies.  While living in Paris, he continued to criticize the regime as tensions in Iran grew due to the massive social and economic changes brought on by the White Revolution. Thus, Khomeini became a symbol and main opposing force against Mohammad Reza. Khomeini wanted to reintegrate religion back into the government and decrease the western influence in Iran.  Despite his conservative religious ideas, Khomeini was supported by many groups in the resistance (rich, poor, working class, upper class, men, women, etc.).

The revolution finally reached a boiling point in 1978 after a newspaper article slandered Khomeini. This led to a massive protest by religious school students who were later joined by more young protesters. The government responded violently to the protests and many dissenters were killed.  Demonstrations continued and the death toll rose sharply after the military open fired on protesters in Tehran later that year. Shortly after, government employees and oil workers went on strike which intensified the conflict. As public unrest grew increasingly difficult to manage, the Shah fled Iran in 1979. This allowed the beloved Khomeini to return to Iran and take control of the government.  After a national referendum vote on April 1st, Khomeini succeeded in creating the Islamic Republic.

Note from Caroline: Afsane Rezaei’s video in this week’s module picks up after this, giving more context on what happened after the rise of Khomeini.



“Iran 1979: Anatomy of a Revolution.” Al Jazeera, 1 Feb 2019, Accessed 9 Feb 2020.

Ansari, Ali. “Iranian Revolution of 1979.” EDGE, Stanford University, 23 Aug 1999 Accessed 9 Feb 2020

 “The Iranian Revolution of February 1979.” Middle East Institute, 29 Jan 2009, Accessed 9 Feb 2020

Afray, Janet. “Iranian Revolution.” Encyclopaedia Britannica, 20 Sep 2019, Accessed 9 Feb 2020

Role of Christian Missionaries in Colonial Africa

The story of missionary work in colonial Africa begins with The Age of Discovery. This is a period where European powers set their sights on exploring the world. This was the start of a global economy, and colonialism. The British colonized many nations including Nigeria in order to exploit native labor and natural recourses beginning in the 1700’s (Reviews). Their justification for colonization was that they were providing better education and healthcare to the natives (Nigeria – Influence). Another primary justification for colonization was for missionary work. Today, Christianity is criticized in the context of Colonialism because the it was used to justify Colonialism. The British, along with many other European empires, pillaged these counties of resources, engaged in human trafficking of the native people, and exploited their labor in the collection of these resources.

Missionaries attempted to convert as many native people as possible to Christianity. This affect of this works is still apparent today where nearly half of Nigerians are Christian (Nigeria – United). Different denominations of Christianity divided the Nation into their own spheres of influence in order not to compete with each other. Among the Igbo, Catholic missionaries were particularly present. In fact, the British were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children. The missionaries felt that spreading the gospel to these people was of great importance, and actively tried to erase their beliefs in Polytheism. British missionaries even promoted the Natives into leadership positions within the church. In fact, the British missionaries were successful in largely eliminating common practices in Nigeria of human sacrifice and the killing of infant children.

The Christian missionaries of the Colonial Age worked in very different ways from the missionaries of today. They believed that converting native people to Christianity was of such dire importance that they felt justified in forcibly and violently converting them. This did much damage not only to those directly impact by the hostility, but to the generations of lost culture and tradition of native religions all across Africa.

Works Cited

Nigeria – Influence of the Christian Missions,

“Nigeria – United States Department of State.” U.S. Department of State,

Reviews in American History: A Quarterly Journal of Criticism. Baltimore, Md: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 1973. Print

History of the British Takeover of Nigeria

Nigeria is a country in West Africa. It was colonized by the British in 1884 and the colony is established at the Berlin conference which divides Africa by European powers. The British targeted Nigeria because of its resources. The British wanted products like palm oil and palm kernel and export trade in tin, cotton, cocoa, groundnuts, palm oil and so on (Graham, 2009).  The British accomplished the colonization by using its military. Although there was strong resistance from natives against the British, it was all crushed by the British. As a result, the trading post at the Niger River is created and the British economic rule is maintained over the colonies, exploiting Nigerians (Graham, 2009).

After the British conquest of northern and southern Nigeria and the merging of the two to establish Nigerian colonies and protectorate, the British seeks the best interests between direct rule and indirect rule. They will not hesitate to use the means of direct rule if they think that indirect rule cannot guarantee their colonial status. The divide and rule policy is always adopted by the British over the colonization of Nigeria. The consequences of the colonization consist of many parts. Politically, slavery was abolished. Economically, the tax system and transportation system deepened the British’s plunder and control over the economy in Nigeria. Culturally, the British controlled the religious culture in Nigeria through training a group of local people to spread Christianity in Nigeria, opening missionary schools, and other ways.

“Nigeria was granted independence on October 1, 1960 but the journey to achieving the right to self-government started seven years before when Anthony Enahoro moved the motion for self-governance in the British-led parliament in 1953. […] Foremost Nigerians like Obafemi Awolowo, Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa who like Enahoro were some of the nationalists who fought for the country’s independence” (Omotayo). They were trying their best to convince their colonial Britain of the need for independence but prove and the capability of self-governance. They had to use their knowledge to prove this by presentation at the parliament and with solid logic. On the other hand, British need to consider the gain and loss from the Nigeria since British is under a turbulent era: Nazism in Europe was over, but Communism and the Soviet Union was increasingly powerful (America also). The available resources were limited, so it’s necessary for British to balance the risking of losing their power in the world.


Work Cited:

Katie Graham. (2009). “Nigeria: Colonization”. Retrieved from “”.

Omotayo Yusuf. (2017). “How Nigeria got its independence”. Legit. Retrieved from “”.