Scottish | Chinese
Ethnically I identify as Scottish-Chinese, culturally I am Pākehā-American, bisexual, cisgender. My mum is Pākehā (New Zealand European) but her parents are from Scotland. My dad is Chinese but emigrated to the US as a refugee when he was very young. He very strongly identifies as an American now. They met in Germany, strangely enough. My Dad asked my aunt out, and she introduced him to my Mum. Mum was working as a nurse and he was based there with the US Air Force. She eventually dragged him back to Aotearoa (New Zealand) under the false pretences of spending time with her parents. I grew up in Ōtautahi, Aotearoa.
I was pretty young when I recognised my mixed identity. I was aware that my brother and I were the only mixed-race kids at primary school, though I do remember there was a South Korean girl in my year. It was a very, very White school. That ching-chong squint-eye thing was pretty popular, and I knew that it was intended to be cruel.
My friendship group is full of overwhelmingly middle-class creative, mostly White, mostly queer. Race tends not to play a part, but I draw a weird sort of pleasure from having a certain group of friends that look like a prescriptively diverse cover of a liberal arts college prospectus. When I was younger I stopped dating someone half-Japanese because I thought we looked related. Hindsight shows that definitely wasn’t the case.
I do think there are bias attitudes towards mixed-race people, but they’ve shifted in quite a weird way. It’s a really exotic thing now. It’s so trendy to be mixed-race, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. I don’t feel trendy, I feel like me.
You automatically have a connection when meeting other mixed-race people, especially in White New Zealand. It’s a lovely, wholesome thing to hearing stories about each other’s heritage, how their parents met, where they came from, on an equal playing field that’s not ‘so what are you?’. I remember my Dad and my maternal grandmother not getting on. When I got older I realised some of the comments she’d make about the inability of different cultures to mix were really hurtful. And misguided, she had two mixed-race grandkids she loved and got on with just fine. My grandad’s Glaswegian accent was a hell of a lot less understandable than my Dad’s American one.
If I had the opportunity to be born again I would want to return exactly the same mix, but in present day. There’s a huge uptake in indigenous culture and language in education today, and I wish I’d learned Te Reo at school. Though I have no Māori blood, it’s the heart of Aotearoa identity and I wish I was better connected to my cultural heritage.
Mixed-race IS the future. And bisexuality. And fluid gender identity. I’m really grateful for being two out of three.