Being Biracial

I am Korean and Indian.

So much these days is focused on race. This is something that has never been a problem for me. But, it is something that has caused a lot of confusion, everywhere I go.

“People look at me like I’m a math problem.” Jo Koi once said. It is a feeling I am all too familiar with. Since I was taken to daycare, everyone has asked about my ethnicity. Some people don’t even ask. They walk up to me and speak to me in Spanish. Some people assume I’m Italian. It isn’t something that happens consistently, only enough to be a bit annoying here and there. I hear things like “you must love rice!” and “wow, how did that happen?”. I don’t take offense, although it is offensive. When black people bring up slavery, I don’t tell them that Indians were enslaved longer…and in their own country. And when people talk about Koreans eating dog, I don’t tell them about what they eat in their home countries or how that was only during the depression (which they also did here in the U.S.).

I never really encountered racism…you can’t when people don’t know what you are. But, once people find out I’m biracial and what ethnicity I am, the stereotypes ensue. “No wonder you’re short”, “But, you’re so tan”, “You must love spicy food”…

But, I am never accepted anywhere. And never will be. To Koreans, I’m Indian. To Indians, I’m Korean. And to Americans, I’m an oddity. Something that happened by accident one time- and isn’t that weird?

I’ve learned something in the thirty something years I’ve been living with this. None of it matters. Ultimately, it doesn’t. Maybe you didn’t get a ticket because of your race…maybe it was because you were speeding. Maybe someone really is targeting you because of race. But, isn’t that sadder for them than you? Isn’t it worse that they live in that world? I’m not saying it’s ok. I’m just saying that the way you talk about that gay guy behind his back isn’t any better. Nor the way you talk about the girl who just walked by in the short skirt. A little perspective can change the world. Or, at least yours.

Here is a buzzfeed video about being biracial that was a little controversial:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/shanewhitaker/when-nobody-knows-youre-biracial#.ss04668xN

Here is something I wrote for Hapa Voice many moons ago…:
Korean, East Indian

2 Comments Add yours

  1. John Bickel says:

    it was interesting hearing about your experiences, here and in that other linked post. my two favorite people are mixed race, my kids, both Thai and American (or Asian and white, as races go, but “race” doesn’t mean any one thing as it once seemed to). it’s been interesting helping them balance the mix of backgrounds, especially within the context of living in Thailand, where aspects of American culture can drop out. self-identity will be more of an issue for them as they get older but I think never really a problem, since they’ve always grown up with that background, and since Thailand is positive about some other races and nationalities (but only some–odd how that goes).

    it’s odd that you don’t feel as if you are accepted. related to various background with others of mixed race or nationality in the US I didn’t feel there was much divide there, even where I’m originally from, a rural area with limited minorities, but much less so in other places I’ve lived where diversity is more common, including Texas, Colorado, and Hawaii. it was interesting living in Hawaii because my wife could say “you are the only haole in this place” (a slur for white people), and she really was better accepted in a lot of settings than I was.

    Like

    1. Julie Jones says:

      I agree, some places are more accepting than others. I think we’ve come a long way, but when I was a kid it was just a tad different. I wasn’t ill treated. I just wasn’t really accepted. It was always “yeah, but you’re only half”… as if I weren’t able to speak to things. As if all my thoughts, experiences and even my blood were o ly half as good. But, after I graduated high school, I started doing what I wanted and discovering who I was as a person. The less I tried to find a place I fit in or was accepted, the more I found myself. And the less people said those things…because I didn’t care enough to give them the opportunity.

      I will admit, it would be nice to feel like Koreans or Indians truly accepted me. But, I don’t care. It isn’t integral to my life. Lol

      Like

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