Have you ever felt like part of you was invisible? That is how I feel every time I’m out and about. I feel as if only half of who I am is recognized and the other half is not.
When people look at me, they automatically perceive me to be a certain race based on the color of my skin, eyes, and hair. With these perceptions come the stereotypes that flicker through their minds. Without even saying a single word to me, I become The Asian One or The Exotic Looking One. I’ve been experiencing this all my life. You would think I would be used to it by now. You would think that I wouldn’t care and that I shouldn’t let it get to me. But it does.
What people don’t realize when they look at me is that I am more than what they think. There is another ‘half’ that I still proudly claim. There is another half of me that I desperately want people to recognize. People fail to see me as who I truly am because they are ruled by judgements and assumptions. I look a certain way with a certain coloring; therefore, I must be this.
But everything is not always black or white. Everything must not always be judged by its cover. In order for us not to be ruled by judgements and assumptions, we must be willing to look closely at the minute details. We must be willing to not just look at the coloring, but the shape of the nose, the tilt of the chin, or the shape of the mouth.
My entire life, for as long as I can remember, I have always been told that I look more like my white father. And yet, people look at me and say that I am Asian. These two things contradict each other in my mind. How can I look like my white father and yet still look more Asian? How is that even possible? What does that even mean?
I grew up in the Deep South where there aren’t a lot of Asians or even half Asians. When people see me, they automatically brand me from what they’ve seen in the media. If I had grown up in a more Hapa-dominated community, then people would probably brand me as a Hapa. When I visited Korea a decade ago, I was able to seamlessly fit in, because people assumed that I was one of them. It is definitely all about perspective.
So, what is it like to be half Asian and half white? It feels the same way as being half Asian and half invisible. I feel like my white half is hidden from view. I feel like it’s lurking deep inside of me, only coming out when I reveal my utter ignorance in K-dramas or K-pops, or my inability to read Korean. It reveals itself when I need to google a word in Korean or google a Korean recipe.
I love being half Asian and half white. I wouldn’t have it any other way, mostly because this is all I know. I don’t know what it’s like to be full Asian or full white. And yet, people treat me as if I am. They expect me to behave as if I am. But that’s not who I am.
I am a person who is the product of two different races and cultures. I am a mixture of both, but not one or the other. I am my own person, someone who is slowly coming to terms with who I am despite the societal assumptions that weighs heavily on me.
But most of all, half-invisible or not, I am me.