I got told when I was applying to university that I was lucky that my dad was the British one, and not my mum.
Confused, I asked why?
Because it meant I had a “white surname” and my applications to university would be more accepted and I avoided the prejudice of being Chinese.
The only exception, I was told, would be Oxford university because I had to do an interview which meant they would know I was Chinese.
At 17, I couldn’t figure out whether this was a teacher just telling me the harsh reality or whether she was just racist and in fact, was just covertly saying that SHE would discriminate. I settled on the latter because racism was rife in my school. I folded that conversation in with the rest of the racist comments I had received.
I have a few half Chinese friends and a few years later, I finally had the courage to ask a handful of them. Curiously, all my half Chinese friends have their Chinese parent on the mother’s side so we all had white surnames and they all said they wouldn’t be surprised, but how can you ever confirm it?
But it does plant seeds of doubt… did I even get through to interview cause I sounded white? When it came to job interviews, did I get through to the next stage of the job process cause they thought I was white? Will my book sell better cause it’s a white name on the cover? Does @bodypositivememes grow so much faster than this account cause with only my name on show and not my face, they can assume I am white? I want to say no to those questions, but I’m not naive enough to believe that. Any place where my name is shown and not my face, it’s a thought that occurs now, and I wish it didn’t.
These kinds of conversations need to be aired and discussed because these kinds of conversations is what causes people to dissociate from their culture, identity and history. I watched an incredible documentary about a girl group called The Radical Brownies and in it, they say: “a person who doesn’t know their history, is a tree without roots”. I agree with that, and it’s even more important when society asks you to dissociate from one part of your identity and only recognize the other. #ScarredNotScared