Belgian | Chinese/Malaysian

Joel Lim Dubois.jpg

It’s perfectly natural as a mixed race person to identify with the place that you’ve grown up in, you know the whole third culture kid thing. I’ve never done that. I am most familiar with the UK. I’ve lived here the most years out of anywhere but I’ve never thought of myself as being English or British. I suppose it’s partly because of my inherited issues but more fundamentally, emotionally I have never felt like I belong here. I’ve always felt like an outsider. I don’t feel like I truly belong anywhere. If I had to pick a side, I think that I feel more Chinese than anything else. Culturally. Genetically. It is more in me. But this displacement has made me feel very alone throughout my life. Being mixed race is a huge part of my identity. It is one of the things that I’ve hung my identity off since I was a kid. I’m hugely proud of it and never rejected it. It is absolutely me and I enjoy the uniqueness of it. I feel a bond with other mixed race people, but I am yet to meet someone from exactly the same place or background as me. I’ve met people in my life who were born in a village in Dorset, say, and whose parents were born there and whose grandparents were born there. They may go off but they ultimately come back home and that seems to me both hugely alien but also hugely appealing and idyllic. To have that sense of being rooted and of belonging. The narrative that we’re in today is that we are all equal, we’re all the same inside. All races are equal. They are equivalent. But that only sees race on the level of skin colour. I don’t believe that we are all the same. I think that there are the underlying cultural identities of all of us which are very different, hugely different. There is basically no consideration of that in contemporary discourse around race relations. We have profoundly different cultures and it is difficult to be between two cultures because they may not overlap at all. They may even hold completely opposite positions. I have friends who are mixed race couples and I see them having arguments over how to raise their children because of these huge cultural differences. And I wonder where their kids will belong.