Belgian | Hong Kong Chinese
I identify as Eurasian, Catholic & straight. Mama is from Belgium and Papa is from Hong Kong. They met in the UK when they were both here studying English. I grew up in Crystal Palace, South London and still live very close by. It’s home and I love it.
I can’t remember a specific moment when I recognised I was mixed-race. It’s a bit like asking me when I recognised my family was my family - it just always was.
Both of my parents have such love and respect for the other’s family and culture that they seamlessly combined their different traditions. As kids, it just meant we got to eat really good food and double up on the festivities! We would celebrate everything from Chinese New Year to St. Nicholas on the 6th December which is when Belgian children traditionally get their Christmas presents. It was different from what all my schoolfriends were doing but it was us.
I haven’t experienced any challenges at all which is weird because I know my siblings have. We talk about it a lot as we obviously grew up in the same household, with the same parents, and even went to the same schools but had such different experiences. I can truly say that, to this day, I’ve never suffered in any way because of my mixed identity. I also don’t think being mixed-race has had any effect on my work or personal life. Me and my sister Delphine Chui run our own organic/beauty lifestyle blog @ftoxins
I noticed a few years ago that all of my close friends are either mixed-race or have parents who moved over from another country, whether that be Italy or Nigeria. I don’t know if I naturally vibe with these people better or if it’s just a result of living in the multicultural hub that is South London, probably a bit of both.
I know there are bias attitudes and stereotypes towards mixed-race people from the experiences my friends and family have had but I’ve never had to deal with any, personally.
I speak French, although the less I use it the more I lose it. I really wish I had listened to my parents when they tried to get us to attend Chinese school, but I hated it. I remember sitting in class distinctly feeling like I was not Chinese enough to be there. We never spoke Cantonese at home, so I was a fish out of water. It’s definitely a challenge when you can’t communicate with your extended family as much or as well as you want to. While it makes no difference to the amount of love you have for each other, the language barrier definitely makes building relationships harder.
I probably connect most with Mama’s Belgian culture than Papa’s Chinese culture but only because it’s more similar to British culture. I also spent much more time in Belgium around my Belgian family than I ever did in Hong Kong around my Chinese family so I’m sure that played a part. It’s weird but when you grow up in a ‘third’ country, you have ties to your parent’s cultures of course, but I think your biggest connection is to the culture you grew up in. At least that’s the case for me. I feel like I have the best of three worlds!
Whenever someone asks me where I’m from, I have to be that annoying person who answers a question with a question. Do they want to know where I live or where my parents are from? Once I know, I’ll go ahead and answer either South London or that I’m half Belgian/half Chinese. I know some people are very bothered by this question, but I don’t mind it at all. I enjoy people’s curiosity and it’s an easy conversation starter. It also gives me permission to ask all the questions I want about them and they tend to be a lot more personal than just where their parents are from!
The only negative experience I’ve had from being mixed-race and growing up in neither Belgium or Hong Kong is a very tangible lack of having any extended family around. I definitely felt, and still feel, this gap in my life. So much so that I’ve always known that if and when I have children I would have to live near my family (sorry, future husband).
I’ve had nothing but positive experiences from being mixed-race but the best thing about it, I think, is that I always knew there was a big old world out there for me. Having family scattered across the world and visiting them will do that to you.
I can’t speak for everyone about what it’s like to be mixed-race in today’s society. While I’ve never had any negative experiences due to being mixed-race, I know that isn’t the case for most people. My friends are now having gorgeous mixed-race babies of their own and I can only hope that they will feel nothing but loved and accepted by the world.
I wouldn’t want to be born again. I believe God put us here, exactly as we are, for such a time as this. We just have to figure out why and get on with our mission.