I am Mixed Race. In all I have over 10 ethnic identities. I am Australian-born but have South-East Asian, Eastern/Southern European and Middle-Eastern blood. I have olive skin, blue-green eyes, and dark auburn red hair which is sometimes curly, sometimes pin-straight. I don’t speak any other language but English and have lived almost my entire life in Australia. Yet, I grew up in a multi-ethnic neighborhood and was often labelled a “wog” or worse. I am not white enough, yet I am not dark either. I have almost no attachment to my ethnic identities and do not feel particularly Australian as my family were more “British” growing up.
My family came as refugees to Australia in the 60s but were from a very colonialized Anglo-Burmese background. Myanmar, or Burma as it was formally-known is one of the most ethnically diverse minority races. Waves of Persian, Arabic, British, Dutch, Portuguese, and other Asian nations flocked into Burma and created a real melting-pot of Mixed-race people.
In the 60s, there was a mass exodus of mixed-race Burmese people escaping for their lives and most ended up in Australia. I am now third generation and have never been to Myanmar and don’t speak the language or have a real connection.
I get asked almost on a daily basis “Where are you REALLY from?” and somehow my answer never really satisfies either myself or the questioner. As the world becomes more ethnically diverse and people migrate frequently, there is a growing lack of personal identity and sense of belonging.
This generation has had more freedom of expression, movement and communication globally than any other in history, yet people feel more isolated and disconnected than ever.
Many third generation kids in Australia feel confused about who they are or should be. As a struggling actor, I never fit into a stereotypical “box” of “White”, “Aboriginal” “Torres Straight Islander”, “Black” or “Asian”. I was told repeatedly “We don’t know where you’d fit.
Frankly I wasn’t white-looking, Asian-looking, Middle-Eastern-looking or Euro enough. I certainly didn’t fit the “Australian” look either. I just didn’t fit. At 34 I accept that I will never “FIT”.
I am okay with that. I just wish that I had a place and not just labelled an “Other”. Other-what? People say to celebrate diversity, but rarely is that true in the real world. Other’s are side-lined and face discrimination and rejection and even flat-out racism in a very polite and “P.C.” way.
My question is, will there ever truly be a place for the weird-looking and the Other’s in today’s society? Or will we always be a square peg trying to fit into a round hole?