Blended

"Why? Everyone in here is Asian. Well ... except for her." Everyone laughed.

Photo by Pxhere
Photo by Pxhere

By Saskia Gregg

Almost three decades ago my Caucasian father, California bred, traveled to China and fell in love with a Chinese woman who was showing her English teacher around. Ten years later, they brought me home from the hospital in Austin, Texas.

Growing up in a home of blended cultures, I often felt I had to constantly choose between each half of my identity. At school, I would silently bow my head when the people around me at lunch told me my dumplings looked and smelled strange. On the weekends, I attended the obligatory extra math class and Chinese school along with my Chinese peers. 

When our math teacher introduced a problem about the distribution of race in schools, a student said, "Why? Everyone in here is Asian. Well ... except for her." Everyone laughed. I wanted so badly to fit fully into either of the two molds of my life. I always hated being handed standardized tests where I had to bubble in my race. The words "Please select one" always stared me in the face as I bubbled in my information. If I ever asked my teacher what to do, they'd shrug and say, "Just pick one." So I chose White. I insisted that my parents let me buy school lunches so that I could eat what everyone else was eating, and would only respond in English to my mother.

"I always hated being handed standardized tests where I had to bubble in my race. The words "Please select one" always stared me in the face as I bubbled in my information." 

Photo by Pxhere
Photo by Pxhere

This lasted for a few years before I started to regain an interest in my Chinese heritage in High School. I had cultivated a diverse friend group at school, so I no longer felt out of place being myself. Seeing my friends proudly share their Korean, Hispanic, Italian cultures made me feel confident in sharing my own, blended culture. I also started taking Chinese at my high school to strengthen it. I finally felt comfortable in my blended skin.

I didn't think much about it again until I came to college and was walking around the club fair during orientation. I was walking with two friends when a girl wearing a powder-blue sorority shirt approached us. "Would you guys be interested in joining an Asian sorority?" she exclaimed. The three of us smiled so she grabbed clipboards from the table behind her and handed one to each of my friends. I stood there in silence, embarrassed, as she pulled them aside to talk more in depth. I'm sure she wasn't deliberately trying to exclude me, but I got the same feeling I had when I was younger. It felt like I just didn't quite make the cut to be on either team. I'm too hairy to be Asian, but always get asked "So where are you from?" and when I respond with "Austin," "No, where are you from?"

"It felt like I just didn't quite make the cut to be on either team. I'm too hairy to be Asian, but always get asked "So where are you from? and when I respond with "Austin," "No, where are you from?"

It's taken a while, but I have truly come to love my mixed ethnicity. I love telling people about my parents and my background, but there are still times when I find that insecurity creep back up again. To be honest, I was worried to join this magazine out of fear that I wasn't "Asian enough". It's something I'm still trying to discover myself, but I finally feel empowered enough to feel like I can "select both".

Photo by Katie Anderson
Photo by Katie Anderson

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Saskia Gregg is a junior double major in advertising and music at the University of Texas at Austin.