I never really understood what the concept of being “biracial” was until friends or peers pointed out that my mom and dad were of different races. And that being biracial was more uncommon than common.
One of the questions I get asked the most—from strangers, friends, even teachers–is “what is your ethnicity?”
This question doesn’t exactly bother me, but I do find it interesting that people want to know the answer so badly.
It can frustrate someone when they don’t know where to place you or if they don’t have something—like race—to identify you by.
Before leaving for Bordeaux this past fall—Kelly, my mom and I all had a farewell breakfast.
I excused myself to the bathroom and when I got back, my mom looked angry and Kelly unamused.
“She just asked us if we wanted separate checks—because of course you can’t possibly be my daughters,” my mom said, shaking her head and rolling her eyes.
Kelly shrugged, “It’s just silly, because if we were with dad no one would question it. Everyone can believe that we’re Asian but not everyone can believe that half of us isn’t.”
I’m sure that the server didn’t mean to strike a nerve by her comment, but—well, she did.
I’ve found that people have no problem accepting my dad is my dad—even though him and I don’t share many physical attributes, our skin tone is similar enough that our relation isn’t given a second glance. But it is not as easy for people to look past race and notice that Kelly and I have our mom’s nose, or that Kelly has her eye color and I have her smile.
People are even more surprised to hear that my dad is the Asian parent—not my mom.
I’ve heard comments that go somewhere along the lines of “I’m just not attracted to [insert race] guys/girls. But that’s not racist—it’s just my preference.”
But here’s the thing—the definition of racism is the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
So by making a statement along those lines—alienating an entire race because you believe they all share the exact same sort of physical attributes that you just are not attracted to—well, that is racist.
My mom has never used race as a differentiating factor for someone. She’s never alienated people because of their origin.
I don’t like to place people in boxes or make judgments about them based on things they can’t change. And a large part of this has to do with my mom and they way she thinks, and has taught me to think.
So thank you mom, for shaping my mind for the better.