You’re Not ___ Enough

I am half Filipino and half Indian. For some reason, despite the fact that Indian and Filipino people are Asian all the same, American culture presupposes a drastic difference between the two. If you’re Filipino you are considered Asian. If you’re Indian, you’re considered "brown" (as if "brown" is an actual race). It’s as if Indians and Filipinos are two completely different races despite coming from the same continent. So while it is not technically true, being, half Filipino, half Indian is essentially like being half Asian, half "brown."

Not completely fitting into my own racial identity has been something that I've always dealt with. In high school this feeling of inadequacy was exemplified when I found myself in a friend group that consisted of nine other Indian girls. Half of me grasped onto the cultural references that I could relate to, while the other half sat there, an outsider within my own race. For four years, I was not “brown enough.”

Now, in college, I feel this racial insufficiency just the same. I surround myself with four other East Asian girls. Is this my way of trying to get a glimpse into the half of me that was constantly suppressed, seemingly tarnishing my “brown” side as I sat among my Indian counterparts? Well, it seems as though the sentiments felt in high school are all the same in college, now reversed. Unable to feel fully accepted into my “Asian” group, I am distinguished by my skin, large, round eyes, and curly hair. My tan skin differentiates me from that of my porcelain friends. You can tell I am different. I can tell I am different. I can only presume that for the next four years I will feel different as the saying “You’re not Asian enough” echos in my ears.

So, when someone tells me: “You’re not ___ enough to understand,” what they’re essentially saying is: “You do not fit the stereotypical characteristics of said race, so there is no way that you could possibly understand this reference that I am making right now.” When in reality, my ignorance to whatever topic at hand is not a product of some inadequacy as a Filipino or Indian that the statement implies, but rather the fact that I was simply not brought up in a household solely based on one ethnic background.

Whether this phrase be said with naivety or malice, there is no excuse for excluding a person from a racial group that they are undoubtedly a part of. So here’s to the all the kids who feel like they are not enough. To the half black, half white kid who is too black for white people and too white for black people. To the “halfie” who is too white for the Asians, and too Asian for the whites. To all the kids out there split between their ethnic backgrounds, unable to identify to either. Lastly, to me, the half “brown,” half Asian kid who hopes one day to finally feel “enough.”