British | Chinese

My mum is from Liverpool and dads from Hong Kong, they met in Liverpool in the 1960’s when my dad was attending Liverpool University. I grew up in Milton Keynes, then when my parents divorced I lived in Bedford during the week with my mum and stayed in Milton Keynes with my dad at weekends.

I realised I was mixed-race when I was quite young. Before my parents divorced we would travel up to Chinatown from Milton Keynes quite regularly to eat dim-sum. The reaction of my school friends when I said I ate chicken’s feet and duck’s tongues was quite funny! But not being able to speak Cantonese when we visited family in Hong Kong made me aware that I would never be able to fully identify with either culture. It was confusing at times growing up - but now I’m quite at ease with it.

I do find it easier to make friends with people who are tolerant and open-minded about different cultures. Regarding relationships it does not matter where the person comes from.

I think biased attitudes exist in general - mainly due to lack of education, paucity of experience and a want of curiosity. Having said that, inside the bubble of living in London it feels like attitudes towards mixed-race people are becoming more welcoming.

I don’t remember having a lot of problems with racism being mixed-race growing up, but my looks are ambiguous, some people just assume I’m White British. At school people would tease you about your name sometimes or pull slanty eyes, but it wasn’t sustained and I didn’t find it particularly hurtful as kids could just be pretty mean in general. I do remember one time though when I was about 15. Me and a friend were on a train to Bletchley and a large group of skinheads got on the train. There was more than 20 of them and they were being very aggressive, doing Nazi salutes and stuff like that. For the first time I felt incredibly conscious of being mixed-race and really scared. I was praying they couldn’t see that I was mixed - that was the first time I truly experienced the feeling that being mixed-race could be a problem.

I think having a Chinese background but growing up in Britain made me curious about that side of my heritage, but also meant I instinctively reject the idea that somehow ‘purity’ is superior. It has also resulted in me being interested in and accepting of other cultures in a way I might not have been if I wasn’t mixed-race. My girlfriend is Italian, but I don’t think we’d have the same shared love of food if it wasn’t for the Chinese aspect of my upbringing!

I don’t know what the future holds but I do believe that the idea of separate races is a cultural construct and not a biological reality. So for me the future for mixed-race people is dependent on the prevailing cultural climate that they live in.