When many people think of the word ‘racial discrimination’, it usually refers to a person being discriminated against for their racial background by people other than those from their own racial background. However, for many mixed-race, we/they are racially discriminated against in our/their own countries and societies as well as in other countries.
A very common experience for people who are mixed-race is that we/they are treated more like a foreigner rather than a local in our/their own countries. When we think of the term ‘identity’, people often relate it with national identity. However, individuals like myself who have been repeatedly told by societies and the majority of the human race that we are not fully of whatever nationalities we are supposed to be, it is hard to build a sense of strong national identity. Therefore, for many, being ‘mixed’ is itself a stronger identity than the nationalities or the countries where we/they are from.
Sakura is a 26-years old Indonesian-Japanese, she shares her idea of how mixed-race is a culture of its own: “I consider mixed culture as ‘another’ culture, meaning that it is neither one or another - it exists as its own culture. The nature versus nurture debate could involve in every individual, but I personally believe that it eventually roots down to our identity as mixed-race. Languages are just ‘tools’ to switch from various situations, and perspectives are rather flexibly adaptable.”
However, even if we/they have experienced difficulties because of our/their racial and national backgrounds of being mixed, there are also many positive outcomes, and we/they are happy with our/their own identities and backgrounds.
Fernando, who is a 24-years old Italian-SriLankan expresses his ideas thus: “In the end, we may not fit anywhere but we can also fit everywhere. There are no borders for us since we already have been through the experience of not being accepted by our own societies. We don’t care to fit into the nationalistic idea of who we should be. We are who we are, and that means we are free to choose what we would like to be. On top of that, I have the luxury to be able to speak multiple languages and understand and enjoy multiple cultures. These are definitely positive outcomes for a mixed-race. I have the wonderful opportunity to meet people and value them for who they truly are, I don’t care what country or racial and national background a person is from, I care if the person is truly international in their mind.”
Laura is a 27-years old Japanese-Swiss, she shares her positive side of being mixed as the following: “All these experiences made me be more open-minded towards other cultures which I think is important and enriching. I understood that I am actually lucky as I have the opportunity of enjoying the positive sides and the beauty of both countries and cultures. This made me realize that I am actually a bridge between two lands - my feet are implanted into both grounds, I am a bridge of communication between two different cultures.”
Individuals who are mixed-race may encounter difficulties in being understood and accepted for our/their national, racial and cultural backgrounds in both our/their countries of origin as well as in other countries. However, our/their knowledge and experiences in multiple countries and cultures, together with the skill of speaking multiple languages, has led us/them to meet a great variety of people, have wonderful opportunities, and be able to understand and approach issues from a broader international perspective.
Lastly, I would like to thank my interview candidates, Sakura, Laura and Fernando, for sharing their precious experiences of being mixed-race.