Growing up my family never identified as white. My mother is Caucasian, yet even she made jokes stereotyping white people as uncultured, ignorant about everything from spices to family relations. My father was always worried we’d become “too American,” which is why he made a concerted effort to talk up our Chinese side, his side, its deep history, its tradition of treating elders with respect. When I look at my values as an adult they seem “very Chinese” to me. Even now I struggle with accepting my white side because I’ve cloistered it behind a partition of criticisms for everything wrong in the US. But hey, the US is multicultural now, it’s not only Caucasians who are xenophobic, eat mostly fast food and talk back to their parents. Its the melting pot of angsty teens and capitalist control.
It seems obvious, but I have to stop blaming white people for the actions and values I don’t like. It started out as a defense mechanism, a way to firmly put me on a side, an attempt to ignore my awkward straddling of a place where I question my validity to speak as a person of color and my unease at being accepted as a “white person.” I have to be both, anything less feels like self-hate, willful ignorance. Hopefully by embracing the full spectrum of my identity I can change my own and others’ definitions of who is a “white person.”