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Mental Health

Her Story: The Lonely Experience of Being Biracial

I grew up in a predominantly white community, and at times it was easy to forget that I wasn’t white. More often than not, when someone would bring attention to the fact that I was different from them, I would feel confused, because I saw myself as equal to my Caucasian counterparts. Sometimes I would get offended, because in my mind I didn’t want to be different. The problem lies in the fact that I am of mixed heritage – I am both Chinese and Caucasian, and I proudly identify with both. 

You don’t often hear about racism from people who are mixed-race; in my opinion, our my experiences as a POC are often invalidated. I can’t compare my experiences to those of others in the BIPOC community; everyone’s relationship to the concept of race, and the way they’ve encountered racism, is different. While others may “have it worse” than I do, my experience as a mixed person feels unique, and not often talked about enough. 

Growing up, I understood to a certain level the privilege of being Caucasian and having a Caucasian father. But what my white community could never understand is what it’s like to be Chinese.

As a mixed child, I never felt any sense of belonging. Other BIPOC may have a community they can turn to – people who have experienced the same things as they have. Growing up, I wasn’t white enough for my white friends to see me as such, but I was also not Chinese enough for the Chinese community to accept me as their own. It was exhausting to hear that I was “not Asian enough” or a “fake white girl.” If I was neither of those two things then what did that make me? Being two things at once meant I could never feel connected to one community, and I never met someone in my dominantly white community whose experience I could relate to.

person holding a dandelion flower and sunset
Photo by Aleksandr Ledogorov from Unsplash

My childhood was often spent trying to erase the Asian part of my identity. In my world full of white people, that is all I wanted to be. I’d feel offended when someone addressed my Asian features. I would be insulted when a white friend would remind me that I was different from them. I would see red when a friend would joke that I was a “bad Asian” when I recount how I used to struggle with chopsticks. I would only date white boys, who found me attractive because I did not look “too” Asian. I never felt like I was Chinese enough to be Chinese, and I never felt Caucasian enough to be Caucasian. It was a long time before I realized I did not have to pick an identity; I could be both of my identities at once. 

Part of me always wonders, am I Chinese enough to consider myself a POC? Is it unfair for me to categorize myself as a POC when my experiences are different from someone without a mixed identity? 

Trying to explain the struggles of being biracial and my experiences with racism and identity crisis is difficult. I was already half white, how could I experience any sort of racism when only half of me was Chinese? I believe knowing I was not entirely a minority somehow made it easier to subject me to racist and belittling jokes surrounding my identity.

I try to remind myself that I can’t allow other people’s racism – or my own internalized racism – to stop me from finding comfort in my Asian or POC community. A biracial identity does not make my experiences as a person of colour any less valid; they make them unique. 

It took me many years to realize the internalized racism that manifested itself in my self-esteem, and it took me even longer to be proud of my identity. My mixed heritage is now a topic that I can confidently discuss with others. I am proud to have more than one heritage, and I am proud to identify with both parts of me.


Olivia Onesi

U Ottawa '24

Olivia enjoys binge reading her favourite young adult novels and going for evening runs. She is a second year psychology student at the University of Ottawa and can be found scrolling endlessly on TikTok.
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