I have had the good fortune of (until recently) living in a part of Australia that is highly influenced by its South East Asian surroundings.
It wasn’t that big a deal growing up, although I did occasionally hear racist comments in the schoolyard. None of my friends mind my racial background (we went to a school that had a large international student population) and I have quite a few Hapa friends.
The unfortunate thing is that my Chinese grandparents are highly traditional and don’t really accept my father as part of the family.
It probably doesn’t help that they prefer speaking Cantonese, Malay or Mandarin over English (neither my father, nor my brothers and I are even close to fluent in any of these languages). On the other hand, I hardly ever see my paternal grandparents as they live so far away and I don’t really have a connection with my cousins. Even the Asian ones whom I see every year know that my family — despite my mum — are still “guilo.”
Some of my Hapa friends have the same sort of problem; you can flit between the Asian community and the white community but you don’t really fit in either.
I am now participating in a gap year in the UK and, to my dismay, am now in a community where there is very little Asian influence. As such, I’m missing home and the food that I’m used to (it’s the little things). Also, I dislike the weird stares I get when I walk down the street. It’s vaguely disheartening to hear little old ladies mumble about “another of those damn foreigners” when you are a citizen of the country you are in.
Despite all this, I wouldn’t have being Hapa any other way! I love my parents and the unique genetic blend they gave me. I also love how I was raised and am fiercely proud of both of the cultures I belong to.