I’m a Jamaican girl of African/Chinese descent living in China, and let me tell you… I’ve been on the receiving end of a host of irritating comments from people back home (In JA). “Do you eat dog?”, “So… is your vagina diagonal (apparently bc I’m mixed, not fully Chinese)?”, “Yeah you’re definitely Asian, you have no ass”, “Oh it’s a black people thing, you wouldn’t understand…”
Now, back home most Chinese people are very very united, the families know each other and get together for important holidays or smaller activities like badminton games etc. My family was never a part of that, since my dad, though Chinese, is Rastafarian and my mom is Black. I was also very aware of the fact that I looked rather different from fully-Chinese families. And while at school I was being called “Chiney gyal” and made to feel like I wasn’t a regular Jamaican, at home I was being taught NOTHING about that side of myself. As I got older I began to deny my Chinese heritage, if only to get people to shut up about it. A small part of me was also disappointed that I wasn’t actually connected to those roots, and decided to deny them altogether.
Anyhow, last year I moved to China to start university. I was kinda excited to come here, thinking maybe I would fit in a little better than I did back home. Boy, was I ever WRONG. Most foreigners who’ve been to China know, the locals STARE at you incessantly, like you’re some kind of zoo animal. Most are fascinated by anyone who looks so different, since their population is mostly Han people, or so I’ve read, but some of them really look down on anyone with darker skin. Anyways, I basically get called African here, I don’t even bother telling the few English speakers I’ve come across that I’m actually Jamaican and half-Chinese (funny how I wanted to clarify this time around, huh?).
As it turns out, I probably won’t be fully accepted anywhere. But realising this has made me decide that it doesn’t make me an incomplete person and that what I really need is to accept myself. It took me a while, but I’m glad I have. It’s not easy to erase the insecurities I’ve harboured over the years, but little by little I’m working on it.
I don’t need other people assigning stereotypical characteristics to me, nor do I need validation from others to decide what race I do or do not belong to. I am both Chinese and Black and I will never deny any part of my heritage just to fit in again.
i was the only girl of color in my entire school from pre-k up until 8th grade, & when i got to high school there were only 2 other woc who weren’t even in my class.
for a long stretch of time, i had no friends because everyone thought of me as the nerdy foreign Asian girl who was too weird to talk to. the only time anyone did talk to me was to harass me on AOL instant messenger where they called me racial slurs & told me to ‘go back to Asia.’ my hometown area is absolutely notorious for its racism & white children there internalize it at a disturbingly young age.
when i finally did get friends, they were all white (i didn’t really have options to choose from) & they served me up with so many microaggressions that i mistook for genuine friendship, while their parents didn’t even bother to mask their racism when i visited their homes. i was fetishized by the worst of white boys who emotionally & physically abused me, but i let it happen over & over again because i measured my own worth by how they measured mine.
as a result of these experiences, i’ve dealt with internalized oppression in the forms of depression, severe body dysmorphia, social anxiety, & self-hatred. therapy didn’t do shit for me, & i also constantly longed for my family in the Philippines. i still find the diaspora woes hard to deal with.
but my healing process truly began when i started writing everything down, stringing my anger & pain & perceived self-inadequacies into poetry. i felt so validated the first time i ever shared the weight of my internalized oppression through spoken word, which allowed me to embrace my color & heritage fully, a feeling like no other.
since then, the elements of my healing process continuously expose themselves to me, like magic a little bit at a time, reminding me why i deserve to be loved, even if it’s only ever by me. reminding me that in rejecting the standards of whiteness, i can finally exist. i can live.
now the shy girl in the corner dances wildly in the middle of the room. wails high notes into a microphone in front of a bar crowd. doesn’t hide from the sun. actually speaks her unpopular opinions.
sometime’s it’s still a struggle. i still hurt. but i am proud pinay. queer & present. a brown girl thriving. it’s taken me 20+ years to learn how to love myself, but i think i’m finally there.
Its Asian Face Appreciation Day. I’m Filipino and Chinese. Wasssup. Born and Raised in the U.S, first generation of naturalized american citizen in my family (and the only one so far). I like make up, unnatural hair color, and bands/artists that make me feel unwillingly pretentious. I’m grey-ace and polysexual/polyromantic. I may like you if you aren’t a butt. Also I should be coming out with an LP soon so if I do that successfully pls give it a listen. I’m asian. Appreciate me.
Bi, sex worker, mixed Thai + white. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out where I belong across multiple marginalized communities, and I’m still working on it. But it’s so much better once you learn to be unapologetic about who you are. All my other angry Asian girls, you’re gorgeous and strong and wonderful. Keep rockin and don’t let anyone give you shit.
While I was teaching English in Taiwan one of my students came up to me and told me I was too dark. Literally translated she told me that I was too black. I was crushed - not because she did not approve of my skin - but because she had been conditioned to think that whiter is better.
And that, my friends, is not true.
All over Asia there are billboards for face whitening creams and double eyelid surgery. Where are my dark female leads in entertainment? Where are my south east Asian politicians in historically white places? You best believe we’re here and coming up fast so better not be surprised when your boss/president/idol looks a little like us!
Happy Asian Face Appreciation Day - and never apologize for who you are. <3