Friday, February 25, 2011

Identity- Part I

One of the biggest challenges I faced being a multiracial child was my identity.  As a young child, I was CONVINCED I was adopted.  In my mind, I did not look like my dad, and I did not look like my mom.  I did look like my brother, so I assumed that I was adopted with him.  As I grew older, I did realize that the reason that I didn't look like one or the other parent is because I was a blend between the two.

Then, as a teenager, I tried to look for outside role models of a person with mixed Asian and Caucasian roots like me.  I wanted to know what I would look like as an adult.  Where I would fit in society.  I didn't find any.  There were times where I would stare in the mirror, just trying to imagine what I would look like when I grew up.  I would pour over pictures of my chinese mom and my caucasian grandma, just trying to see what type of woman I would eventually look like.  One thing I wish I had was a person before me that I could look to to answer some of those questions in my mind.

Today, I see a lot of mixed Asian/Caucasian children.  I see in them the child I was.  I wonder if they look at me and see what they might be.  I wonder if they have the same identity issues, and if seeing me helps with that identity.  I wonder if their parents look at me, trying to picture their children in the future, trying to picture their grandchildren when the look at mine.  

Who was your role model?  Did you have an example of a multiracial adult that you looked to?  What do you think about when you see children in your same situation?  If you are the parents of multiracial children, what are your thoughts when you see an adult with your child's same background?  I would love to know your thoughts.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Two Halves: the Challenges, the Sacrifices, and the Rewards

Throughout history, multiracial children have come about when different racial groups come together during war, migration, exploration, trade, and even forced servitude.  Some of these children may have been born into families, but lets agree that historically, most grew up in disadvantaged situations.   Their visible presence were a constant reminder of their society's plight, rarely their society's fortune.  In some cases, enough of these children were born that they became their own groups (or sometimes their own caste) within their society.

I would like to think that today, the situations that surround multiracial children are more positive and involve two consenting adults that came together because of love, or at least some form of attraction.  A lot of these couples came together despite opposition from society and family.  I feel we must acknowledge our parents and what they went through to bring us into this world.

My mom and dad met after the Vietnam War era.  My dad was in the military, my mom was a cute Taiwanese girl that spoke English.   They met, fell in love, and were married.  My maternal grandfather refused to go to the wedding ceremony.  Thus begins the first challenge of their joined lives.  

Then, the children came.  And from then on, it had been a fun little trip through life.  Both of my parents have had challenges.  My mom had to move to a western country with different customs, a different language, and the people had very little knowledge of her native culture.  

My dad's challenges perhaps were more internal.  He felt the weight of bringing his wife to the new country, felt the weight of providing for her and protecting her from the part of society that didn't condone their marriage.  

As a couple, one of the hardest challenges would have been socially.  Most of my parent's friends are couples like them, American husbands with Taiwanese wives (mostly my mom's friends and their husbands).  There have been a few all American couples and a few all Taiwanese/Chinese couples that they have been able to befriend, but in general, the social group has been like them, and there aren't very many couples like that.  Perhaps this would not be a challenge to couples that were both raised in the same country but different racial backgrounds.

Other challenges involve the children.  My mother came from a traditional chinese background.  The role of parent and child are very different than in America.  She came into motherhood with her childhood experiences, but she was now raising American children.  I remember growing up and she would tell me, "I would NEVER talk to my mom that way," or "I always did whatever my mother asked right away, no questions."  My young American brain would constantly reply, "Whatever, mom."  

Then, I went to Taiwan.  I saw parent-child relationships.  There were some things I liked about it, and some things I didn't like about it.  But, I learned that my mom was right.  She probably didn't ever speak to her mom like I spoke to her.  She had to deal with these outspoken rebellious children in an outspoken and rebellious society.  She was a Taiwanese woman that had to raise American kids.  

My dad's challenge with the kids was similar to his challenge with his wife.  Making sure they felt secure, felt loved, and helping them navigate through society with self esteem and identity.  Sometimes, I think that in his challenge to help us find our identity, he had to lose his, just a little.  

There are still sacrifices.  There are still trials.  But, there are also the rewards.

"Recent research has shown that multiracial children do not differ from other children in self-esteem, comfort with themselves, or number of psychiatric problems.  Also, they tend to be high achievers with a strong sense of self and tolerance of diversity."

(See Mom and Dad? Your sacrifice has created greater sense of self and tolerance of diversity in your children, in your children's children, in those that know you, and in those that know them.  And doesn't stop here.  That will continue for generations and generations.  I know your sacrifice and the trials you faced, and I hope you feel in your hearts that it was worth it, because I know it was.) 

What challenges did your parents face?  What is the legacy of their sacrifice?  What reward (if any) do you feel your parents gained from living as a bi-racial couple?  

Sunday, February 6, 2011


It was high school, junior year.  Three friends and I were studying our vocabulary words.

One friend read, "Miscegenation: (noun) the mixing of different racial groups."

Another looked up and said, "Hey, that's me."

Yet another friend added, "I'm a miscegenation, too."

And it struck me, so was I.

At this moment, I was starting to feel bad for the blonde girl in our group who wasn't.  It seems she was outnumbered.  But, as I looked around in the entire class, we three were the only ones who were multi-racial, and also the only ones who were in any minority groups.  Was it coincidence that we were friends?  Is there something about being of two cultures, or of different cultures, that somehow predisposed us to friendship?  I have so many questions that probably only a psychologist could answer, but I hope to share my thoughts and feelings.  I'm going to speak openly, so I hope you do, too.   (But not TOO openly, or I might have to censor you!)

This is my story.