English | Malaysian Chinese
I went to a pretty diverse school. No one questioned where you were from or what your background was. It wasn’t really a thing. My earliest memory about my identity was in the playground on the first day of primary school. Looking around at all the new children, I asked my Mum, “Mum, who should I play with, the white kids, black kids or brown kids like me?” I suppose at such a young age, I was looking for some common ground.
I used to argue a lot with my parents. My mum’s expectations were very high. In contrast, dad was pretty laid back. They came from very different backgrounds so had different reference points. Mum has had to fight to stand out her whole life. She grew up in Malaysia, one of six. She’s fiercely Malaysian and proud of where she is from. It’s funny, when we used to go to the States she would always be stopped with her Malaysian passport and me, my dad and sister used to walk straight through. It was always a ‘random search’. Pretty laughable. And upsetting.
We go back to Malaysia every few years to see family. I love it there. I definitely feel a connection. I don’t know what it is. It just feels like somewhere that is a part of me. It’s strange because i’m always so excited to say to people there that I am one of them but then get disheartened because they never see it. It almost feels like having this novelty side to me. Something that is different but only at face value.
I think the best part of being mixed is feeling like I can relate to different people. Trying out new things and being curious about people’s lives and identities. Is that because I am mixed? I’m not sure, but I think that it definitely has helped me to break down perceived barriers.
I hope that in the future people can look past race, stereotypes and snap judgements. It's important to celebrate where you are from and what your background is. It doesn’t matter if you are mixed race of whatever, everyone has a story to tell. I think the more open people are, the more people will begin to understand each other. People are scared of what they don’t know. Hopefully this project can break down those fears.