Biracial, Racism, Part 2: My Parent’s Story

So the floodgates have opened, I wrote one post about being biracial and what it meant to me, in my life and in the space I existed in and a flood of thoughts have come to my mind. I became newly educated about words like ‘post-colonialism’, and a whole working theory existed of which Asian and Eurasian men have been routinely emasculated by Western Society and compounding with that, the rejection of Asian women in favor of white men, all supposedly due to internalized racism and self-hatred. Hordes of Asian women will breed with white men so that their offspring will be partially a part of the superior white race, thereby creating a generation of Eurasian children who are confused and angry about their race (applies mostly to male offspring), masculinity (when compared to white males) and their place in Western Society (they are neither this nor that).

There is blog after blog about the supposed evils of Asian women being brainwashed by post-colonialism about race and will throw themselves at any white man who will have them. He doesn’t even have to be a good man but as long as he’s white and heterosexual, that will do. And the reverse of that, Asian women are seen by white men as subservient, sexually available, having low standards and are willing to throw themselves at any white man. In the end she is ultimately disposable, when he’s done with her he will go on to marry a respectable woman in his race and social class. But that’s not enough, the Asian woman then throws her arms around his ankles and digs her claws in further, she is willing to do anything to make him stay, get pregnant, crawl around the floor like a dog, bark like a dog, anything. I found the content of these blogs offensive to say the least, so offended by the disgusting stereotype that I feel compelled to write about the unremarkable story of my parents. My father who was Anglo-Irish white and my mother is Chinese.

Over the course of my life, some people wonder how my parents met and some assume that my father was in the military and my mother was the local floozy that threw herself at him, and I was possibly conceived out of wedlock and my dad married my mom as a result. Well, NOTHING IS FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH. Not one iota of their story resemble the above. And I believed for a long time only the truly ignoramus would hold such narrow and stereotypical view of Asian and Caucasian interracial couples. Smart, worldly and educated people (or people who at least want to appear smart and worldly) would never believe this. How wrong I was.

Firstly, I was not conceived out of wedlock, my mother was not knocked up and unmarried. Not that there is anything wrong with conceiving out of wedlock and marrying as a result. But in this context and the story of my parents it’s important to make that distinction. So, no shotgun wedding. And again, nothing wrong with those either, it’s just not my parent’s story. And if it were, I’d proudly own it too.

Next, my parents got divorced when I was just 4 years old. I don’t know the real reason but I hear from my relatives that he got too friendly with his secretary, the accusation was unsubstantiated and I never asked my parents why they got divorced. My dad claims he’s got no clue why my mom wanted a divorce except that she was insistent and he followed her wishes. I didn’t wish to pry as it was their private business and neither was willing to share much. There were all these wild stories told about my mom post divorce about how ‘distraught’ she was by her siblings and parents but I took their view to be biased against my father and her sister and mother have a tendency to exaggerate and are prone to hysteria. What is clear is my mom didn’t wish to discuss it and I respected her wishes and she was never ‘distraught’. And ultimately it didn’t matter why they divorced, it’s done and is part of my reality and I dealt with it. So, no, my mom didn’t cling on to my dad for the sole purpose of being married to a white person, she didn’t wrap her arms around his ankles and dig in her tenterhooks. She didn’t accidentally get pregnant on purpose with a second child so he’d stick around some more.

A little bit about my mom, she was the youngest of five children and was born to a conservative but loving Chinese family. My grandparents fled to Taiwan after the communists overran China and my grandfather was a trusted member of Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek’s private team until Chiang’s death in 1976. My mother like all her siblings are college educated, a rarity in those days. The educational system in Taiwan then was rigorous and very difficult examinations were required to move on to the next level of education. The college enrollment rate was only 10%. She graduated college one year early and begun working and exploring her future options, whether to study abroad or pursue higher education in Taiwan. During this time she met my father, fell in love, got married, started a company with my father where she was the majority owner and ran the business on an equal basis with him. I was born roughly three years after their marriage. We lived a comfortable lifestyle which she co-created with him. She was and still is a very smart and capable woman. She was not a desperate woman dying to escape her family background so she married a white guy. Lastly, she wasn’t self hating, post-colonial or whatever, she was and is proud to be Chinese and never worshipped white culture. In fact, it was a bit of the opposite, she found American culture to be philistine and lacking in richness and history, compared to the culture she came from. So, imagine my surprise when I discover that there are scores of Asian people who have disdain and contempt for their own culture.

Throughout my life, I’ve met some Chinese Americans who pretended they were white. They deliberately never speak Chinese and try their hardest to forget any Chinese they’ve learned in their childhood. They pretend that they are culturally white. They eat white people food, do white people activities, and at the end of the day really convince themselves that they are white but by some accident of birth they look Asian. I used to find these people to be pathetic, after all, who are they kidding, they can consult the mirror and see very clearly that they aren’t white and no white person will really take them to be like ‘one of us’ and yet they delude themselves. I never believed their motivation for doing this was due to self-hatred, but rather to try to fit into white mainstream culture in order to get ahead professionally and socially and if they have to pretend to be white, then so be it. Maybe this will lessen the blow of racism they may experience.

About my father, I touched on his childhood in the piece I wrote about my grandfather’s alcoholism. Due to his father’s alcoholism, he wasn’t able to finish his schooling and he didn’t go to college. To get any decent white collar job in America in the 1970s one had to be a college graduate, so he went to seek his fortune elsewhere. Taiwan was just opening itself up to foreign investors and he went there to try his luck in business, which he was brilliant at. Without a college degree, no connections (usually forged on college campuses), he wasn’t able to make much of a headway in the US, so he went to Taiwan. He found his niche in the garment business, met my mother, got married and they started a business together. Somewhere in between all that I came in to the picture. I am their only child. They divorced after a few years of marriage and each went their separate ways. I saw my dad sporadically when he was available to see me and we maintained a connection throughout my childhood and adulthood until he passed away a few years ago. It was a warm and friendly relationship though I wouldn’t describe it as close. I knew that he loved me and that’s more than enough.

My relationship with my mom is peppered with up and downs, like all mother and daughter relationships, regardless of racial makeup. She taught me that Chinese culture is something to be proud of and not something to be ashamed of. There are problems with every culture and its customs, no one culture is perfect but she is proud to be Chinese.

This is not to refute that post-colonialism racial identity complex which exists amongst some Asians. What I object to is how Asian women, Asian men and white-Asian interracial relationships are being portrayed. There is not one monolithic paradigm of interracial relationships. Not all Asian women marry white men so then can have half-white offspring and not all white men get together with Asian women so they can have someone to ‘serve’ them. And not all Asian women deliberately shun Asian men in favor of white men. And not all Asian men are seen as pathetic losers in bed and other areas and that’s why Asian women have abandoned them. These are crude generalizations about peoples of a vast geographical area, who speak different languages and have diverse local cultures.

As for Eurasians of both genders, I think our numbers are big enough now where we are a race unto our own, and we don’t need to be compared to or defined by white culture, Asian culture and Western Society. Our femininity and masculinity doesn’t need to be based on the standards set by Western Society and how that runs contrary to Asian cultures. Yes, our looks matter, how we appear to people racially on the outside matters and it determines how we get treated and how society responds to us but it doesn’t have to mean everything. We do not have to hand over our power and racial identity to ‘Western Society’. And I realize I am saying this as a ‘white girl’ who’s supposedly been handed everything on a platter. But my views are the same.

I have been told recently (over and over again) that I part of a ‘privileged’ racial group, I am privileged because I look white and can pass myself off as a white person and the other half of me happens to be the ‘model minority’, a status which Asian Americans enjoy and that I needed to ‘recognize’ and ‘own’ it. Don’t you love being told how to feel and how to think? I am privileged and blessed, but not for those reasons only. I wish to my younger self that I knew this then when I really needed a confidence boost and a step up after too many adversities in my way. I might have actually used this unearned privilege to my maximum benefit. But alas. (Sarcasm).

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