Identity by India

My racial identity is something I am constantly grappling with. It isn’t something I ever try to hide. My openness about it actually scored me a spot in my school’s annual freshmen poetry slam. Much of my writing centers around my mixed race identity, specifically being Chinese and white.

I often feel underrepresented in mainstream film and television because usually when mixed Asian/white actors are cast in lead roles, the part they are playing was meant to be a fully Asian person, which then ends up causing major backlash among non-mixed People of Color. Or if it’s not that, then the role was meant for a white person and the character’s backstory ends up being sloppily thrown together to accommodate the actor’s ethnic background. The former scenario tends to be an effort to make the character more palatable for white audiences, while the latter is generally used to make the piece more diverse. Either way, it’s almost never because someone thought to represent a mixed person, as a mixed person, for other mixed people.

As a mixed person it’s difficult for me to truly fit into any space. I am always either too much of one race, or not enough. And sometimes I’m not “really” either. At school the group of Asian girls is cliquey and hard to join.  Meanwhile, the white girls are more spread out and easier to form bonds with. However, as soon as you bring up race, the mood shifts and they get uncomfortable. In fact, it’s probably not inaccurate of me to guess that most people don’t even know I’m mixed. I definitely don’t look like a “perfect blend” of Asian and European features like people expect. I have a relatively high nose, big eyes, and pale skin that hardly tans, which many Asians I know love to comment on, blissfully unaware of my insecurity surrounding those aspects of my appearance. Another thing people are fond of saying when discussing my ethnicities is using numbers. “Oh, you’re half Asian and half white?” Like, I’m not coffee creamer, folks, I’m a person with two races and the percentages are none of your business.

It might sound like I dislike my mixed identity, but that’s not true. It’s actually one of my favorite things about myself. Not only do I get to be a part of twice as many cultural experiences as most people, but I also have a very diverse and unique perspective of the world.

BY INDIA – NATIONAL PARK SERVICE INTERN

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