Chinese/Malaysian | Zimbabwean
With my family in Malaysia there is sometimes a language barrier depending on how good their English is. As long as I enjoy eating food with them, I feel like part of the family. However, I get very odd looks when travelling alone. So I'm excited to visit Malaysia but would never go and live there. Zimbabwe is also interesting - I went to school there and at that time, it was quite a mixed society but there was also a lot of segregation. After high school I went to live in the USA. It was also tricky; I just felt that it was more comfortable to hang out with people who were mixed or cosmopolitan like myself. In America you always have to choose a side: I often felt that the African Americans in University would try to recruit me to their group which was strange and uncomfortable.
Lately, I have thought more about my race in regards to relationships. It’s good to talk about being mixed race because the more you understand someone’s background the better your relationship will be with him or her.
My mum has had an interesting life with the family - like with us in Zimbabwe. A lot of white teachers stayed on in Zimbabwe after Independence [in 1980]. They taught at the best schools, the schools that I wanted to go to. The top stream teachers were mainly white British and many of them were very racist. (The school was called Highlands School at the time.) I noticed that they would avoid giving me and my friends any recognition for our achievements in class and the white students would get loads of recognition and praise; but it did not matter much to us as we knew we were doing well and still got prizes. But sometimes it was so obvious and just really unfair so my mum would come in and talk to the headmistress about what the teachers were doing. And once there were one or two local newspaper articles about my mother and the scenes she caused at our school which was really embarrassing.
When you do see something happen it’s better to speak out than not speak at all. Maybe not as emotional and aggressive as my mum did but looking back I do respect her for that.