As a British-Indonesian, who came from a Muslim-immigrant family, moving to the UK as a young toddler, I know first-hand on the day-to-day experiences and microaggressions of the journey of settling into the UK and adapting into the culture and system of this country, until I eventually became a UK citizen.
This is pretty much the bread and butter of my life as a mixed heritage individual in the UK.
Like a lot of mixed heritage individuals, I struggled to fit in and find a friendship group of other like-minded people who have been through similar experiences like myself, during my school years. I was ‘too Asian’ or ‘too ethnic’ to fit in with a predominantly white group of kids.
On the other hand, whenever I tried to make more ‘proper Asian’ friends, consisting of Asian kids born and raised in Asia, I would be ‘too white’ for them.
They can sense immediately that I’m different. That I’m westernised. Not having grown up with the same cultural values and experiences as them. This has affected me for a long time. I contemplated for a long time whether I consider myself as more British or more Indonesian. How I would ever make friends.
I felt like I had to deteriorate and change my identity and ultimately ‘whitewash’ myself, just so I can fit into the culture and system of the UK. To me it felt like that the more ‘ethnic’ you were and the more you were in touch with your heritage, then you’d be deemed as uncool, unattractive or not a part of the crowd. We’ve all seen the studies, regarding candidates with foreign sounding names, being much less likely to be called back for job interviews or offers. I figured that I had to prove that I’m ‘British’ enough to fit into the good old ‘company culture’ of a workplace.
Over the years, I’ve come to realise how important representation is. If you’re someone who consumes a lot of media, whether that’s film, TV, music, the internet, social media or video games, at some point you start to believe that these are the closest reflections of the world. And if you never see anyone who looks like or represents you in the media, you just might question how you fit into that world.
I encourage all my fellow mixed-heritage, multi-racial and third culture kids out there to please share more of our stories and life experiences, encourage these kinds of conversations with everyone to tackle the ignorance.
Call people out.
Don’t make a joke about your identify, for a cheap laugh. The universal experience we live in is very white. Let’s make our mixed-heritage community be integrated into that universal experience.
Show everyone that we are more than pigeon holed stereotypes.
Do you have a story of your mixed heritage to share? Let us know your story here