Race in America II

Chris Colvard forwarded me this great opinion piece on multiracial identity in a recent edition of the Herald Times.  It was written by an 8th-Grade student in Bloomington:

I’m half Korean, half white, but my mother was born and raised in China. Her mother came to a small, Korean-dominated Chinese town during the bombings of the Korean War. Whenever people ask about my heritage, I have to explain all this, and sometimes I can tell from their faces that even today, though they nod politely, they can’t really tell the difference; through unfortunate ignorance, to them all Asians are one big, squinty-eyed community.

While browsing various Web sites in search of the half-Asian identity that I couldn’t define, I stumbled upon a white nationalist forum — the usual bunch of faceless online bigots who quote Hitler and predict a “Saxon uprising.” They said that multiracials, and half-Asians especially, lack a “national identity” and should go find their own country.

This racist ranting was easily dismissible, laughable even, but it made me wonder: What identity are we supposed to have, we mixed-breeds? Do whites see the world through the lenses of their whiteness? What is the elusive “minority standpoint?” Race never seemed all that important to me. At most, it was a useful tool to get in with certain crowds. Sometimes it was a comedic device: Look at the half-Asian who can’t hold a pair of chopsticks, whose only Chinese vocabulary is “hao chir” (tastes good). But of course, I look white, and this is a diverse town — the few slurs are uttered just out of earshot of the group they concern.

In fact, I look so white that whites have occasionally entertained me with their private bigotry. When I hear people talk about “annoying Asians,” when I hear their disgusting imitations of a Chinese accent, when I see Mickey Rooney do his Jap act in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” I don’t have to show my anger. I’m not obligated to take a risk and stand up for myself, for my heritage. Because to them, I’m just another white kid.