This by way of saying that I watched Loving with my mother tonight
This is…something I don’t talk about all that often on this blog, partly because I don’t think I talk about me that often. The actual facts of my life, that is, not just what tv shows and movies and books I like.
Did you guys know I’m biracial?
My mother’s Chinese; my father’s white. Loving vs. Virginia was settled by the Supreme Court in 1967. My mother was eleven; my father was thirteen.
I am not what people think of when they think of biracial children, because my mother is Chinese and not black. My hair is too straight, my skin is too pale–my skin is too white. I am too white, the way I look. But I’m ‘ethnic’ enough that people ask me what I am in the supermarket, on the street outside the train station, at every school I’ve ever been to, when I’m on the desk at work. They guess Greek, Latina, Filipina, Hawaiian, American Indian. You know what they don’t guess? Halfie. I tell them I’m Chinese; they say, really? I have to explain, every time: no, only half.
In my family we don’t talk about our problems, but I know the word miscegenation because of the way my mother says anti-miscegenation like it’s caught between her teeth.
Loving is a good movie. I think I would’ve liked it any day, in any company, but watching mother watch it was more emotional than watching the movie itself. There’s a moment in the beginning–a police officer tells Richard Loving how disgusting he finds him. He says something like, “your blood doesn’t know what to be.” I’m paraphrasing, because I don’t remember the line, exactly–what I remember is my mother’s full-body flinch, the way she tucked her arms tighter around her body and bit her lip.
My mother’s mother told her not to marry anyone but an ABC–American Born Chinese. That no one else would understand her. When my mother moved in with my father, my grandfather disowned her, for a little while. My grandmother cried, hard.
One of my mother’s coworker’s watched Hidden Figures and told her, wonderingly, that she’d been a child then, that she remembered John Glenn and Friendship 7, but she’d never really associated segregation and the Civil Rights Movement with her time. My mother said all she could do was stare, that it took everything she had to keep from saying, I could not have married my husband then, and you didn’t even know? You don’t remember?
This is a lot, in a post that’s supposedly about a movie, so–so this by way of saying that I’m angry. This by way of saying that I am fucking enraged, that people get to not know, to think of all of this as so long ago, and then still not be able to look at me and think biracial. This by way of saying that I cannot believe that people can disbelieve me when I say I’m Chinese in one breath, and in the next, push segregation and racism and anti-miscegenation laws to the long ago past. This by way of saying–
Do you want to know when I flinched?
Richard Loving asks his lawyers what defense Virginia will mount, to uphold the laws that say he can’t be married to his wife, and they say, your children. They say that the state of Virginia will argue before the Supreme Court that it is unfair to bring mixed children into the world.
Unfair to whom, I wonder? I think they mean to the children. Their children, my parents’ children, me, whose blood doesn’t know what to be.
Does my blood know what to be?
A few years ago, I was talking about racism, and my mother asked me if I’d rather be all Chinese or all white, and I said, yes.
In my entire life, I have never felt white enough or Asian enough or American enough, but that isn’t my parents’ fault. Not for getting married, not for wanting children, not for bringing me and my sister into the world. Do you know whose fault it is?
In the first-ever episode of Black-ish told from the perspective and voice of Rainbow, the Johnson family matriarch is forced to deal with an identity crisis when Junior brings home his first girlfriend, who is white. Initially, Bow tries to deny that she’s bothered by Megan’s race. But of course it doesn’t immediately work out that way, and there are some important historical reasons why.
“When you're a biracial person, it's often easier to see these disparities because you live two perspectives. And, particularly if you are half-white, you embody both the oppressor and the oppressed. That may not be where your heart belongs, but it's who you are nonetheless.”
- don’t have perfect, thick curly hair
- don’t have light skin
- don’t have blue or green eyes
- don’t have small, perky noses
- don’t have freckles that dot their cheeks
- don’t have curves
- don’t look like zendaya or all the other pretty mixed girls portrayed in the media
PSA: Ur identity as a mixed person is still valid even if
Ur not light skinned/white passing
U have 4c hair (4c hair is valid and beautiful)
U look more like one race than the other
U don’t know anything about ur other side
Ur not mixed with white
U choose to identify as only one side
Ur mixed with more than 2 races