As we’ve recently had a couple of interesting comments on my initial mixmyth article, I thought I’d post a follow-up.
Daughter Tall, my own nicely mixed daughter, is now four years old. Within just the past few weeks, we’ve had to confront the issue of her mixed race, as her biracial status has just dawned on her.
Her first step was realizing that Mommy and Daddy are, well, different in ways that go beyond one being a girl and the other a boy. She then concluded that Mommy is Chinese, and Daddy just is not. Eventually, the concept of ‘westerner’ came onto her mental stage. She insisted at first that she was only Chinese (not surprising, given that’s her context for most cultural references at this point). We didn’t make too much of this, but did remind her that she was both Mommy and Daddy’s little girl, so she was half western, and hence a ‘mix’. At one point, she burst into tears and hollered ‘I don’t want to be a mix!’, but that seems to have been a one-off reaction. She’s now aware that she’s different from most other Hong Kong kids, and for the moment this doesn’t seem to bother her.
Mrs Tall and I haven’t bothered trying to shield Daughter Tall from the reality of her mixed race because it’s pointed out to her so often. I have a great deal of sympathy for our commenter, who said she felt as if her daughter was often treated like a ‘science experiment’.
When the Family Tall is out in public, we’ve become accustomed to being the subjects of a standard form of examination. The examiner usually proceeds as follows:
I use ‘she’ consciously, as more women than men seem interested in evaluating Daughter Tall’s genetic makeup, though there are plenty of men who seem just as fascinated (more creepy, that!).
So, at this point, do we see an upside in the mixmyth?
Well, for one thing, Daughter Tall herself is delighted by her own bilingualism. She certainly enjoys criticizing Daddy’s Cantonese, although that has a shooting-fish-in-a-barrel challenge level that’s leaving her increasingly uninterested. Much more fun now is catching one of Mommy’s infrequent errors in English grammar or pronunciation.
I think it’s also doubtful she’ll be very uptight about being a mixed kid as she gets older and more aware of the implications of her racial status. There are so many mixed kids in Hong Kong that she’s really not all that special, and as we’ve amply documented here, in articles and comments, the stereotypes of mixed kids in Hong Kong are generally positive. What I hope she can avoid, as long as possible, is getting mixed up in the tedious racial identity politics that so poison the atmosphere at many schools and universities in western countries.
And maybe there’s a more tangible upside, if this recently-published book can be believed. Its title – Breeding Between the Lines: Why Interracial People Are Healthier and More Attractive – probably tells us all we need to know about its contents, but I may try to find a copy anyway. Interestingly, its author – whose website is here, by the way – is not in fact of mixed race.
As always, reader comments are welcome on this subject! Tell us what you’re experienced if you or your kids are in the same boat.