The Time I Wanted To Be White


The biracial crisis of being ‘neither’ and ‘both’


Adaptation: the process of finding oneself or losing oneself?

Never Asian enough, never white enough, I resided in the unclaimed bin like a forgotten jacket in the lost and found, waiting for someone to pick me. It was here that surfaced a part of myself I never thought I would have: The longing to be white.

It always felt weird to describe myself as “mixed” or “half.” I mean, that’s what I am, with my Chinese mother and Swiss dad, but it felt like I was a fragment of a person sewed together by blood.

From growing up in Southern California, where you could probably find an Asian restaurant down any street you turned, to the transition of living in predominantly white East Lyme, my insecurity of my Asian heritage only swelled. How can you like something about yourself that was constantly ridiculed, mocked, and alienated? Every little comment, every little joke seemed to chip away at the part of me I once loved, until I finally crumbled. I burned down any bridge associated with my heritage, as a desperate plea to create distance.

The truth was, I never felt like an “adequate Asian.” I wasn’t as good at math as I should have been. I never was skinny enough to fulfill the impossible Chinese beauty standard. I never filled the stereotypes that the world seemingly pressed down onto me. So to my chagrin, I was more than willing to distance myself from that part of my culture. As I tossed out any resemblance of my Chinese culture without a second thought, I left behind a trail of who I was. Forgotten about, never to be thought of again were parts of me that weren’t just mine but my family’s.

Every little fragment tossed aside was a once delicate piece that my mother handed to me with love. Me, a once-fluent Chinese speaker, now struggled even to form basic sentences. I was everything I thought I wanted to be: just like everyone else.

Adaptation: A requirement for survival.

As much as I cringe looking back at the actions I took to fit in, I couldn’t now be more grateful for it. Knowing the loss of one’s identity only made me fiercely protect it now. As much as I think I might have lost in myself, I gained in perspective. The temporary loss of my culture opened my eyes to the significance of it. It’s only when I stopped trying to justify who I was to the world did that leave me room to grow.