Diversity FYI

Three Things I’ve Learned From Being Biracial

“Which of the following best describes you?: Asian or Pacific Islander. Black or African American.
Hispanic or Latino. Native American or Alaskan Native. White or Caucasian. Other.”
This question always makes me think a bit too hard. I know what I am- I am mixed race: half Korean
and half White. However, with this question, I am only allowed to select one. I don’t feel that I am
giving the full picture by only selecting White. I think that it’s too ambiguous to select “other,”
whatever that means! More often than not, I just select “Asian or Pacific Islander,” because this is
the community I most identify with. But, it wasn’t always this way. For a long time, I felt as though I
had no real identity. For much of my adolescence, I never fully fit anywhere. I wasn’t “Asian enough”
because I lacked knowledge on my own culture- I could not speak Korean and never visited my
“home country.” I wasn’t White enough because I didn’t quite look the part. However, these
experiences made me the person I am today. Here are the top three things I have learned from
being a biracial person in America.

1) There’s a difference between appreciation and a microaggression

As a mixed person, there are a lot of people curious to know more about your background. To me, I
don’t mind answering these types of questions such as, “What race are you,” “Which of your parents
is Asian,” etc. I do not mind navigating discussions about my identity so long as someone is
respectful (which I am sure all people of color can relate to). However, sometimes people’s
commentary seems more like a microaggression.
For example, I have been compared to the movie, “Big Trouble in Little China” multiple times due to
my green-colored eyes, much like the female character in the film. These strangers believed that
they were complimenting me, but it actually made me feel offended because of the film’s context. I
am sure many other Asian people have felt offended from similar instances (ex. Where are you
REALLY from, you look exotic, etc.) Sometimes, questions or commentary on a person’s race isn’t
always perceived the way it is intended, so it is important to help educate people to become more
racially sensitive and respectful of people’s boundaries.

2) You should recognize your privileges

Not all biracial people’s experiences are the same. I try to be aware that although I have my own
personal struggles with my identity, being part White and of a lighter complexion hands me a lot of
privileges (socioeconomic, educational, etc.) that other mixed people must work incredibly hard to
attain. Even though I might feel like some aspects of life can be difficult for me, my struggles are
nowhere near the struggles of other people of color. With that being said, it is important to become
an advocate and fight for the rights of everyone.

3) Impostor Syndrome hurts, but it can be overcome

As a mixed person, you might not always feel like you belong in society. Even though you know
objectively what your identity is, you will have days where you question whether you truly fit in.
“How can I call myself Korean when I’ve never even been there? I don’t even know the language.”
These are questions I ask myself often. However, my upbringing would not have been the same if I
didn’t have my Korean mother who continues to teach me about my culture. It does not matter if
other people don’t think I “fit,” because my experience in life is more important than other people’s
perceptions of me.

Hopefully, these lessons from my life have brought an interesting new perspective to light! At the
end of the day, I wouldn’t rather be anyone else. Even though I have had my own obstacles to
becoming comfortable with my identity, they have made me stronger as a person and more
educated on the issues that so many others face.

~ Ava “CALLISTO” Trompeter 146i