The little things only mixed-race people will truly understand

‘Which race do you identify with more?’ ‘But you don’t look (insert race here)!’

Even in our relatively progressive society today, being distinctly ‘mixed race’ is still considered unusual. We, the children of parents who are of different races, stand out among our peers. We still get told that it’s “cool” we’re mixed race.

Only mixed-race children will understand the struggles, and the benefits, that our unique ethnicity brings.

“Which race do you identify more with?”

People are always curious about which side you relate to more. Since we’ve grown up with both cultures, it can be a tough question to answer. We’ve never actually had to decide on which race we’d identify with, and we have been conditioned since birth to except more than one racial heritage. So it can be a frustrating to have to pick one.

Of course, some of us may prefer one culture over the other, but this definitely does not mean that our other ethnic background is any less a part of us.

You don’t always fit in with either peer group

Being half Chinese, I attended a Chinese New Year dinner event. I found that people were speaking in Chinese dialects that I did not fully grasp, as many of them spoke some form of Chinese in their homes. Having an Indian father, of course I was not raised in a Chinese-speaking home, and was less fluent in Chinese than they were.

Language aside, there were many subtle differences between me and the pure Chinese people around me. The same goes with a group of Indians; I still would not entirely fit in. People who are mixed race sometimes find themselves caught between the cultures, traditions and communities of two races.

Finding a balance between two cultures

Everyone feels some comfort at knowing about their heritage and following cultural traditions; it connects them to a broader sense of who they are. Having two sets of relatives that are constantly reinforcing the customs and lifestyle of a your race is comforting.

Having two sets of relatives that teach you about different cultures, on the other hand, can be both challenging and interesting at the same time. You end up following only certain traditions or sharing only certain values of each race, especially if they are two very different races. For me, this resulted in my connection to my ethnic background becoming more diluted.

People being confused at your nationality

One of my English friends called me a three-in-one: Singaporean, Indian and Chinese. An Italian man I spoke to once asked me how I could be from three countries. I’ve had people asking me which part of India I’m from, even though technically, I’m not even from India. Some extremely distant ancestor probably was, but I myself am from Singapore. It may come as a shock to some that, in this day and age, not every country is homogenous in terms of race

If the two races speak different languages, one has to learn more languages in order to communicate effectively with all your relatives

This is a tricky one. You’ll have to learn the languages of all/both of your races in order to communicate more effectively at huge family gatherings. This can be especially true if you’re trying to communicate with a relative of the older generation, many of them might prefer to speak their native tongue instead of English. However, growing up hearing these languages being spoken around you makes learning them a lot easier than it might seem. It also makes you able to communicate with more people across the globe, which is always a great skill to have.

You don’t really look like some of your relatives

If you’re mixed race, then you probably resemble your relatives less than most people would. Sometimes, a mixed race child may not even look like his or her parents because they are not the same race as them, and this can lead people to hold problematic assumptions. Most of the time though, it’s not a huge issue, and it’s actually pretty cool that you get to stand out even among a bunch of people who are related to you.

Getting the best of both worlds

My favourite part about being  mixed raced is definitely the part where I get to eat authentic and home-cooked Indian and Chinese food. There are also more festivals to celebrate, and who doesn’t love a good celebration with family? As a mixed race person, you get to enjoy everything that both races have to offer you.

You can connect with different cultures and traditions

Understanding the traditions, customs and culture of more than one race opens up new ways of seeing the world. Being part of any racial group means getting an insider’s perspective of how a whole entire race of people live their lives. Being part of two or more races means that you get to feel a connection to communities of people around the world. It’s awesome.

University of East Anglia