As I write this to you, your eight-year-old self is probably plopped down on your grandmother’s couch wondering why the hell you’re being forced to watch a vintage Chinese drama about a mythical monkey king. You’d much rather be watching the Powerpuff Girls on Cartoon Network, right? Too bad. You’re stuck watching this really confusing television spectacle full of overly dramatic kung fu scenes and you hate every minute of it. “Ugh, this is so Asian,” you say to yourself.
Well I’m here to tell you to stop thinking that way and to wash your mouth out with soap. I come from the future, and with the benefit of hindsight you’ll learn that embracing your Asian-ness is a very powerful thing.
But before that, let’s start at the beginning. Let’s go back to that time when you were young, wide-eyed and unable to accept your ethnic background.
Friends will say to you “Hey Jess, you’re like a banana. You’re yellow on the outside and white on the inside.” You will take that on as a compliment, not understanding the inappropriateness of it all. After all, you’ve always wished that you could trade your overly tanned skin, round face and shiny black bowl cut for a fairer complexion and blonde hair.
Unfortunately the self-loathing and internalised racism will continue. It’ll hit a new high when you walk into the local Asian supermarket with your mum and moan about the “whiny Chinese music that doesn’t make any sense because it’s not in English.”
Watch: Leigh Sales and Mia Freedman talk about the most useful things they have learnt at school. Post continues after video. ..
Only later will you begin to understand all the sly comments and subtext behind the jokes. There will be moments that burn you up inside. You will walk into a party with your friends and hear the bouncer whisper to his other burly mate “looks like the Asians have arrived.” Or that time you try to find a fake ID “Just find another Asian person, you guys look all the same anyway.”