Sunday, November 15, 2009

Racial identity - part 3 - my mother is not Chinese!

When I first entered university, I was living on my own and had to pay my own bills.

So for two years I got by working the night shift in a factory. Athough study during the day and work during the night took a toll on my body, it was a great time in my life and I remember those days with great fondness.

On my first day on the job I was taken around by the Supervisor and introduced to the other guys on the shift.

The machinary was loud and everyone wore ear plugs, so the initial introductions were brief and relied mostly on a few loudly spoken words, and some facial gestures.

I clearly remember the first guy I was introduced to that night, being a young man called Adam.

Now Adam looked for the most part to be Chinese, but like many eurasians, something about him looked different. When I was first introduced to him I could not hear him speak because of the noise, and his features were partly obscured by the safety gear he had on.

I later found out that he was born in the US, spoke with an American accent, and had a Polish father.

As time moved on, I realised, as all the other guys on the shift knew only too well, that Adam never mentioned his mother, nor his self-evident part-chinese lineage.

Because of this, during our mealtimes Adam bore the brunt of many sarcastic comments about his background.

Some guys would ask:

"Adam, are you Chinese?"

To which he would respond by saying that "No, I am an American with a Polish father"

When asked if his mother was Chinese, Adam would often use profanities, get up and leave the table in a huff.

Everyone would chuckle as a result, because it was clear that Adam had an issue with being referred to as Chinese.

I remember feeling quite embarassed for him, and wondered how his mother would have felt knowing the extent he would go to hide his Chinese background.

Well, things sometimes go full circle, and here I am now the father of a bi-racial child.

For me, it would be a nightmare magnified ten-fold if my son ever behaved like he was embarassed of his Chinese or Anglo lineage.

Although at the end of the day I hope that my son sees himself as an Australian first and foremost, I hope he always recognises how lucky he is to come from two proud, enriched and admirable cultures.

I hope that he can embrace both parts of his identity equally, and take from them what he need to carve his own identity in this world.


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Anonymous said...

Thats what you get for being a race traitor and produding a mongrel child. Congratulations. You have brought another abomination into the world

What do you like/dislike most about Chinese women?