Even though I grew up in a predominantly white town, I never felt super different from everyone else. Sure, my hometown friends know that I’m half-Chinese and half-White, but that fact was never something that I became really aware of until I got to university. I think this is because for the first time in my life, I became exposed to such a large population of both sides that I identify with, and I kind of struggled with it for a while.
I found it difficult to identify with either one of the races that I am. I didn’t feel like I was Chinese enough to hang out with Chinese people and I felt like me being Asian was something that came up a lot among my white friends – way more than I was used to. Though I’ve become proud to accept the mixed-raced woman that I am, there are a few things I’m tired of hearing and really just need to stop.
“You’re not ______ enough for that”
Just because I’m not a “full-Asian” doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to enjoy conventionally Asian things. I’m allowed to enjoy parts of my ethnicity and what makes me the person I am without feeling any shame.
“You don’t look like a ______ person”
I may not look like your conventional White or Asian woman, but that doesn’t invalidate my ability to identify with both. Let’s all get the notion out of head that any race or ethnicity must fit certain guidelines for them to be considered that race or ethnicity.
“What are you?”
You’re gonna have to get a little bit more specific than that.
But actually, I don’t know why guys (or anyone, really) think this is such an endearing question to ask. Just because you may not know what race I am does not mean that can be your opening line to start up a conversation. I have no issue telling people what race I am, I just find it awkward, and honestly kind of irritating, whenever this is the first thing that someone ever asks me. My ethnicity is not meant to be a topic of conversation. And on top of that, if they respond to my answer with something like “Oh, I thought you were Russian/Serbian/some other cultural background.” Okay, cool. I’m not. Goodbye.
“Please check one of the boxes below to indicate your ethnicity”
Can’t do that. Also, why is this still a thing?
Though interracial relationships and children may have been uncommon in the past, the number of multiracial people in our world is only going to grow from here. Having said that, we must be accepting of the differences that come with multiracial people without forcing them to identify with one race or the other. I want to be recognized for being a biracial woman and not feel invalidated just because I can’t check myself into only one box. But at the same time, I’m so much more than what my race is and can think of much more interesting things to talk about than myself.