Iâ€™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 canâ€™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 couldnâ€™t define, I stumbled upon a white nationalist forum â€” the usual bunch of faceless online bigots who quote Hitler and predict a â€œSaxon uprising.â€ They said that multiracials, and half-Asians especially, lack a â€œnational identityâ€ 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 â€œminority standpoint?â€ 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 canâ€™t hold a pair of chopsticks, whose only Chinese vocabulary is â€œhao chirâ€ (tastes good). But of course, I look white, and this is a diverse town â€” 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 â€œannoying Asians,â€ when I hear their disgusting imitations of a Chinese accent, when I see Mickey Rooney do his Jap act in â€œBreakfast at Tiffanyâ€™s,â€ I donâ€™t have to show my anger. Iâ€™m not obligated to take a risk and stand up for myself, for my heritage. Because to them, Iâ€™m just another white kid.