What does it mean to be “Mixed“?
According to Wikipedia
(What’s that I hear? Oh, it’s just all of my K-12 teachers scolding me for using Wikipedia as a source. Whoops.), Mixed is an ethnicity category referring to people of two or more different races or ethnic backgrounds.
I’ve heard people say that it’s a derogatory term—some go as far as to say it’s a slur—but as a Mixed person myself, I personally don’t take any offense to it. Perhaps it’s because I grew up privileged, living in a diverse neighborhood where racism was rare and never tolerated. Or, maybe it’s because I feel a sense of pride in being able to claim that I was lovingly raised by two people of different backgrounds and cultures. Whatever the reason, I’m not too keen on discussing the politics of the most appropriate term to call… me.
Instead, in this post, I want to share what it’s like coming from multiple ethnic backgrounds and what unique™ experiences have occurred in my life as a result.
~ Belle Can Read will resume its
(ir)regularly scheduled (hah!) book-related content after this post. ~
A Little Background On My Background
My mom and dad are both Asian, but my dad is Indian and my mom is Filipino. That being said, there’s a number of similarities between their cultures that I think are inherent to most Asian cultures. They value family above all, tend to have more conservative views on things like attire and relationships, and *have a fixed belief that I can only be successful if I’m a doctor. In a way, it’s nice that my parents had those things in common; I have certain values that were strengthened by their shared teachings. The unique™ experiences, however, definitely stem from their differences.
I Know They’re Just Curious
*This particular experience isn’t that unique™—I’m sure it has happened to most people—but I thought I would add it anyway since it’s still something that occurs often in my life.
If I had a penny for every time someone asked me “are you *insert ethnicity*” or “what’s your ethnicity”, I’d have… a good number of pennies
(Nice one, Belle 🙏). Sometimes when I answer people, they’ll reply with “I thought you were *insert ethnicity*”. It’s very interesting to see people try to draw conclusions about me based on how I look. I get a strange satisfaction when someone tries to stereotype me and fails.
I realize it’s normal for most people to ask about someone’s ethnic background—I do it too sometimes—but I think it serves as a way for people to make snap judgments about a person whether they realize it or not. There are other factors that shape a person’s character asides from their ethnicity. It’s not so black and white—it’s… mixed
(HAHA. MIXED. LIKE THE TITLE! *knee slap* I totally set this paragraph up so I could do that, and I’m only a little ashamed.).
I’ve Never Been Good At Limbo
There have been countless of family occasions or interactions with Indian or Filipino people where *I feel like I’m in an awkward limbo of not being Indian or Filipino enough. It could just be all in my head, but I have a couple of points that support my sentiments
(*pulls out pointer and visual aid*).
- Except for a few words here and there, my parents spoke purely English to my siblings and I growing up. I don’t completely blame them for not teaching me their native dialects—it would have been difficult switching between three languages. Still, a part of me wishes that they tried so I wouldn’t feel like such an impostor when people, specifically Indian and Filipino, ask me if I can speak my parent’s languages
(and I have to run away in shame).
- My parents follow different religions and never forced me into practicing only one as it would be unfair to each other. Instead, I grew up learning about both of their religions and never had to proclaim myself to be of a certain faith. It’s nice because I was able to visit both of their places of worship and partake in some of their practices. The awkward situations occurred when I wasn’t familiar or couldn’t partake in certain customs because I didn’t actually follow that religion. I’ve had my good share of uncomfortable moments where I had to stand alone because I couldn’t participate in something everyone else was doing.
*I guess feeling like I’m in an awkward in between is a regular thing in my life. I mentioned it before in my post about Reverse Culture Shock.
Short Conclusion That Promotes World Peace
In the end, I’m grateful that I was able to learn about and be apart of two cultures
(and I’m excited for more Mixed babies! Oh, that’s creepy. Scratch that.). I’ve learned to be more tolerant and appreciative of people’s differences (and how to run away from awkward situations), and *I’ve also been able to see first-hand how similar we all actually are.
*I apologize for how cheesy that was 🙈. I cringe with you. But, hey, someone has to say it. Again.