Growing up, I felt I wasn’t Cambodian enough or Chinese enough because Cambodians thought I looked too western/mixed and always made me feel that I was trying to act “above them,” and Chinese people always saw my skin as being too dark.
When they’d see both my sister and I, they wouldn’t believe we were sisters because she is so Chinese/western looking and I was often called the “ugly one.” Even though I am of Asian descent, some Asian races actually discriminate against each other and for a while I felt ashamed to be who I was.
When people see me they think I’m actually Hawaiian or half white (go figure), I think I can accredit that to some French heritage from way back in the day. I speak English, conversational Cambodian and a high level of French. I’ve lived in France and the states and have visited Cambodia only once.
I have yet to visit China but I have no family that I know as my grandfather left his family being the only son to find a better life in Southeast Asia. He traveled to Vietnam and then Cambodia. After the war in Cambodia, my mother’s Chinese side was all lost and displaced. I never tell people that I’m Chinese but true Cambodians know that I’m mixed.
I guess now that I am older I can embrace both sides but to be honest, even today, sometimes I don’t really know what to identify myself as…I guess I’m just human ;)