WHAT IS IT REALLY LIKE BEING MIXED RACE?
This may sound like a really bizarre article, mainly because it’s like “what’s the big deal? Stop being a moany old woman!” However, being mixed race was not as common or necessarily accepted when I was growing up. I am 22 and was born in 1992; the 90’s were relatively more open-minded than other decades, however I still received negativity when I was growing up, clearly not that open-minded then…
So, what actually is my background? My mother is Chinese and my father is Irish, so of course living in England I might look different to some people, however I’m English born with an English accent. In all honesty, I had never seen race as an issue, mainly because I was brought up within my family and obviously no one ever said anything to me, so of course I never realised there was anything unusual about me being Eurasian.
I live in and was brought up in a town with a mainly white ethnicity, however I never saw myself as any different – I never saw race as an issue because I wasn’t brought up to. A lot of people never realised I was mixed race, and they said “I thought you were white”, but never actually treated me any differently when they found out; I was lucky until I got to secondary school. I suppose as I went through hormone central (otherwise known as puberty) my face changed a lot and maybe some of my Chinese features became more prominent, so that’s how it became more apparent that I was mixed race. Also, in secondary school (all girls I’ll add, so of course it was naturally bitchy as hell) we had several parent evenings over the years, and of course when both my parents arrived, that then made it obvious that I was mixed race. However these people found out and decided to use it against me, I’ll never know why, but although it was several years ago that I had racist comments hurled at me, I will never forget them.
One girl, South African I’ll add, so not even English said that I should “go back to my own country”. Naturally, like all bullies, she said this behind my back and I found out through other people. I was only 13 at this point and this was my first encounter of racism. I had absolutely no idea what to do and I couldn’t believe she had the audacity to even say that, but then thinking about it I realised how stupid she was. Turns out she’s now doing nothing with her life and I have a good undergraduate degree and I’m studying a Masters – so, who’s the real winner? I knew that when she was saying these racist comments that she clearly didn’t know what she was talking about or whether she even meant it or not. I knew she wasn’t going to affect my life in any way so I just let it go because I knew that I would end up being more successful than she is; trust me it wouldn’t have been difficult.
Then there was my second racist encounter, yet again this was not said to my face, ahem *COWARDS*. Anyway, while I have no idea what I said to the South African girl to make her hate me, this I know the reason for. It’s absolutely pathetic but ignorant people are. So do you want to know the reason she hurled numerous racist slurs at me? Because on a school trip in year 9 (aged 14/15) I took the back seats of the coach. I’m being deadly serious, I wish I was joking, but that’s all I did. Of course back in school, with hormones raging, that’s obviously a mortal sin that I committed; clearly I’m the worst human being in the whole wide world. So anyway, she said to “go back to your own country” (not very original, never heard that one before, try harder please), “that I look funny” and that I’m a “chinky bitch”. So you can see why I took slight offence, even if it was from an ignorant, stupid, narrow-minded little girl. This I told my parents and they obviously reported it to the school, she was then put in isolation for a week and had to write me a letter of apology to my great satisfaction. When I would walk past her in isolation, she would genuinely cower when she saw me.
And then I realised, who’s the real person with the power here? Yes she may have hurled stupid, racist insults at me and thought she was the cat’s pyjamas (no I have no idea where that phrase comes from either) but she is either intimidated by me or she’s just so ignorant that she’s just copied what someone else has told her. When I saw her cower at my presence I realised I have absolutely nothing to worry about, when someone hurls racist insults, they do it because they either don’t know any better or they’re so foolish that they can’t think for themselves. Whether she was really racist I’ll never know, but what I do know now is that she left school at 16 and ended up in a really dead-end job and that’s when I realised that in the cases I’ve experienced of racism, I don’t even think they meant it, they just didn’t want to lose face in front of their friends so thought of the worst thing they could think of.
In my opinion, if you’re going to insult someone then do it well. If they’re a horrible person and they have a vile personality then say that. I’d be far more accepting if they said something like that to me, but it’s the fact that they didn’t know me (because I was obviously not friends with these people) so just thought of the only thing they could – the way I look. When I would be walking around with my parents, especially if we went to areas that had a dominant elderly population, we would be stared at, and I mean gawped. I didn’t understand that when I was younger so I became really self-conscious, however as I grew older it happened less because mixed race children have become more common; but I realise maybe people are just curious, yes, some might be racist, but maybe some people are intrigued by it, so I’m just chilled about it now. Let them look if they really have nothing better to do.
The purpose of this piece is not to show that I’m a bitter old lady from things that happened to her years and years ago, but to show that sometimes people might be racist, prejudice etc. towards you, your family or your friends because they are ignorant, now whether that’s intentional or not is up to them, but sometimes people don’t know better and their brain is so small that they cannot physically fathom some things, and that’s ok, but what you have to do is breeze past it because they are not going to affect your life, so embrace who you are and forget about them because they’re not important. I’m incredibly proud to be of a mixed race, I like to think it makes me more unique and if you have something that makes you unique and other people want to insult that, then let them because they’re irrelevant and you’re awesome!