I was considered academically gifted, often in context of my East Asian ethnicity, yet I never had enough money to fit in with the people who surrounded me. When I took a step back I was considered dumb and less studious, associated with the “white trash.”
Having full blood does not mean that you’re more cultured than I am. When someone says something that sounds ignorant, don’t simplify it to their ethnicity. An ethnicity is a category so vague that it nearly says nothing about a person, but claims everything about a culture.
And these categories negate everything- everything I’ve experienced.
You do not simply face hardships because your race is discriminated against. It is an individualized experience. Those with darker skin experience different things than someone with lighter skin despite being the same race.
In my case, my lighter skin also hides different hardships that I face because I do not “look the part.” People have been convinced that I’m fully white, Hispanic, French, “some sort of asian,” but no one has considered me Chinese in full.
It’s confusing when people explain my actions with the fact that “I’m white” when I’ve never fully fit into that category. I’ve reaped the benefits of not being openly discriminated against because my skin is lighter but I am not white. I am privileged to grow up in a nice neighborhood, in a nice house, eat good food, but I have always been…separate. Everyone I knew had a nicer house and their own cars, two parents that loved them, siblings that loved them. They had enough money to talk about brand names I didn’t recognize, and trips I wouldn’t even dream of taking. I have always felt… out of place with my white or financially privileged friends. I’m usually laughed at or not taken seriously by my Chinese friends.
What I do have is a mother who has begun to recover, instead of one that further regressed. I’m privileged that she’s astonishing enough to have been able to raise us. But I’m also disadvantaged by her trauma. Our shared trauma. I’m disadvantaged by the fact that I have a deep connection to my Chinese culture but no one to share it with. Because I’ll never be Chinese enough, and my father and I will never be close enough to share our heritage.