Scottish/European | Filipino
I would identify myself as mixed-race, half Filipino and half White/European, bisexual and religion wise I would say I’m spiritual as my views on religion/spirituality are kind of undefined and fluid. My mother is Filipino, but she never grew up in Philippines, she and her family toured around Asia, in Korea, Hong Kong, and Japan, so she’s multilingual and sees herself as nomadic. My dad was born in London, but has Scottish and European roots, and like my mum, travelled and lived all across the world. My parents met in Hong Kong. My dad was a DJ and my mum was a singer/musician, and her family and my dad worked together. From what they told me they were all good friends and then my mum and dad ended up getting together, got married and had me and my brothers.
I was born in Hong Kong, along with my older brother, but we moved over to the UK when I was around 3 months old. We lived in a few different places, but after my little brother was born, my parents divorced and I moved with my dad to live with him in London. So I’ve been in London since I was 3-4 years old! South East London has always had a reputation, but I loved it! Unfortunately, with all the gentrification it’s looking less and less like where I grew up. For the most part my nan, (my dad’s mum) raised me. She never really mentioned or talked about my race at all, and I think that helped. Although sometimes I don’t think she fully gets my older brother and I’s frustration.
I think my parent’s divorce made me feel different to the other kids at school and at my dance class. The other kids would constantly have their mums around, and I rarely saw mine as she lived far away. And at dance shows, their mums would be doing their hair and makeup, and my friend’s mum would have to do mine or I would do it myself. It started to really sink in that I was different in secondary school, where I was told I wasn’t Asian enough, or that being Filipino wasn’t really Asian. And as I got older, the girls who I used to be friends with, who were all White and middle class, alienated me and made racist comments and jokes constantly. They wouldn’t include me in what they did and made me feel other in every single sense. I had a lot of self-hatred, and I ended up isolating myself from everyone.
For me, I don’t really have a friendship group. I’ve been in groups before and we’ve fallen out over things, and one of the last groups I fell out of was due to a debate about Beyoncé and whether or not Lemonade was made just for Black women, although I think things were already a bit rocky. In all of my friend groups, nothing has really felt right and I feel like I was the butt of most of their jokes. I’ve struggled to feel like I could really be myself in friendship groups.
But over the summer, I’ve made some lovely friends, and I’m still in contact with individuals from my old friend groups. Most of the friends I’ve made recently really put me at ease and understand my experiences. I think race has actually played a huge part in friendship circles, and I honestly feel most comfortable with those who understand that.
I honestly look for someone that allows me and vent and rant about Western society and White privilege and that can be part of the conversation. Understanding and compassion and someone who listens to how I feel, as I’m pretty emotional and I get pretty heated when discussing race and culture. Also, someone that doesn’t belittle or is condescending. It’s so annoying hearing ‘you’re so cute when you’re mad!’ or ‘being mixed is the best, why are you complaining’. Also, in the past I felt like I was always an experience to guys, like they would be like ‘I’ve never been with someone like you before’ or ‘you’re the first Asian girl I’ve been with. I felt like I was something to tick off their bucket list, and not seen as a potential relationship, just something to display on their scout badge sash.
I am so grateful that my boyfriend has been such an incredible place of support and is always up for discussion on issues close to my heart. I think it’s really important for partners not to derail the conversations on race especially if they aren’t affected by the issues being discussed.
There’s also this stereotype that makes me feel a little self-conscious, that Asian girls always go for White guys, and as my boyfriend is White, I feel like I’m seen as ‘ah just another one of those Asian girls’ and it’s like frustrating feeling like you’re being stereotyped, but at the same time I can see where it comes from. But one thing I find comforting, I know my boyfriend has experienced being seen as other and different, and that drew me to him as it’s nice to feel that you’re not alone and that they understand what it feels like.
I wrote my dissertation about bias & stereotypes towards mixed-race people. I think mixed people are still being exoticized and fetishized constantly. We’re seen and taken as these visual beings, we are only considered for our aesthetic qualities and appearance. It’s the first thing people notice and pick up on, and it’s always ‘I wish I was mixed, mixed people are beautiful’. We are reduced to just this, our ‘beauty’ or the potential to have children that could be that beautiful. I have seen creepy Instagram’s dedicated to pictures of mixed babies and children, and it honestly freaks me out a lot. I think people fail to acknowledge the real struggle and battle with identity that mixed people have, and I think there is a lot of distrust and alienation.
I know in the Philippines, culturally, to be mixed is so sought after, and you’re considered more beautiful by default. My mum often says ‘oh but you don’t look like most Filipinos’ as if it’s a compliment, and when I went over there, me and my brother were gawked at on a daily basis. And in the UK, we both receive the tedious racial daily micro-aggressions, which do build up as an avalanche of contempt.
One negative is not being taken seriously, as it’s as if your validity to talk about certain matters, or issues on race is revoked as you’re only half. Or people just think you’re making a big deal out of nothing, that being mixed-race is a blessing and that you should be grateful and have no problems or criticisms. It’s like you’re invisible, and that you don’t really exist, they only ever see you for what you lack.
One positive would be, having such a diverse family, and being to learn from them and being a part of their traditions. I have a lot of pride on each part of my heritage, so as much as I do struggle with my identity, when it’s all stripped away, I forget all the things people say about me not being Asian or White enough. I feel such a tie to the island I grew up as well as the islands my family are from. I can’t deny my British-isms, or my Pinoy pride, so no matter how much people love to remind me how different I am to them, my connection to where I come from and who I am is stronger still.
If I had to be born again, I don’t think I would want to be born into another being. Maybe just to become another star in the never-ending cosmos, since that’s where we came from, and maybe the closest to home I’ll get. But failing that, a really fat cat.
I hope the future brings more understanding for mixed-race people and their experiences. As well as being represented better in the media, as it’s such a struggle to relate to anyone or feel like you can recognise yourself in them. A TV show about being mixed would be amazing, like a cheesy sitcom, or just more than what’s being put out there. I hear a lot that in the end we’re all going to be mixed, or that we are, so if that is the case, we need to listen and acknowledge what’s happening now to make a better future, as there’s a lot that needs to addressed and talked about. There is a lot of negativity and ignorance out there that has deep roots in society, and I think mixed people need the platform to speak out and to be taken seriously, not just shrugged off for ‘oh but they’re only half! They can’t speak about that’. Our voices matter, and I hope the future holds a way mixed people can just be, and not be questioned for their identity.