My dad is Vietnamese, and my mom is Cantonese. They both immigrated from Vietnam to escape the war. I think that refugee part of our family’s past really contributes to the attitude where we’re just happy with whatever we have here as long as we can feed ourselves and have a roof over our head.
On my mom’s side, I’m the only one with Vietnamese blood. And then on my dad’s side for a really long time, my brother and I were the only ones with Chinese in our blood. So when I was younger, I definitely felt like I had to pick one.
Someone did call me whitewashed, and he was like, ‘Your mom’s Chinese, but you don’t speak Chinese. Your dad is Vietnamese, but you don’t speak Vietnamese. So clearly, you’re whitewashed.’ That just sat with me, and it still sits with me today.
Luckily, as I’m older I’ve learned that you define your own cultural identity. And no one can do that for you, because they haven’t lived your experiences.
I’ve come to a point where I don’t feel like I have to choose anymore because they all came together to build me this wonderful experience of a life that I have now.
With my grandparents on my mom’s side, it’s like, ‘Oh, we can’t speak to you in Cantonese, but there are other ways to show that we care for you.’
During high school all the cousins would go to the grandparents’ house on Friday. My grandpa knows I love fried rice, so he made a bowl of fried rice just for me. I was about to sit down and start eating dinner, but then he said, ‘No, wait.’ He opened the oven, and he took out the bowl and gave it to me. He said, ‘This is for you.’
So then I’m sitting there with my fried rice and all my aunties and uncles and little cousins who are picky eaters. They see me and they ask, ‘Where did you get that?’
I say, ‘I’m not telling you.’
Then they ask, ‘Can we have some for our kid because they don’t want to eat the other stuff?’
And I answer, ‘No.’
我小时候曾因自己的混血身份而感到迷茫。我觉得我需要选择自己是越南人或是中国人，但有人会因为我不会说中文和越南语而认为我是 “白人” 化了，这个概念一直跟随着我。幸好长大后我懂得只有我自己才能决定自己的文化认同和身份，我再不需要选择任何单一的身份，因为我这两个文化背景已构造了今天的我。
虽然我不能和我的外公外婆用粤语沟通，但他们会用别的方式来关心疼爱我。家庭聚会时，我外公总是会给我单独准备我喜欢吃的炒饭。虽然我的表兄弟姐妹们要与我分享外公给我做的炒飯，但是我卻不愿跟他们分享这份来自外公外婆给我独特的疼爱。” — Amanda