My mother was born in Taiwan and immigrated to the United States when she was 20 years old. My father, who is half Austrian, was born in the United States. From the beginning, there was a constant struggle between my parents about which way to raise me.
My mother insisted that I keep in touch with my Chinese roots, but my father said that since we live in America, I should be totally “Americanized.” There was always a constant pressure to pick one or the other, and growing up I tried to maintain that I was neutral towards my ethnicity and that I didn’t care.
It was disturbing to me that I not only felt pressure from my parents to pick an ethnicity, but my college applications, forms, grants, and loans also wanted me to pick out what I was. Hispanic, Pacific Islander, Caucasian, African American, or Other. And then I had to describe the Other.
It was frustrating that I had to pick only one term to define who I was to other people. Then it dawned on me that I was annoyed about just picking one race to describe myself because that’s not how I felt; I wanted to be both. So when people ask me today what I am, I tell them I’m half Asian and half American. It’s something unique about me, something that is deeply a part of who I am, and no college application can change that.
Or a perfect whole? Genetically speaking, you may be 50/50, but that doesn’t mean you can’t identify as 100% Chinese AND 100% Austrian (or 100% Hapa) :)
I know exactly how you feel! Thanks so much for sharing your story. You should never have to choose between one or the other, you are a perfect half, not more or less of one or the other.