The two laziest ethnic slurs are probably “Chinaman” and “Whiteboy.” Lazy, because they’re both just saying what someone is. Interestingly, I’ve been called both. Which should be technically impossible, but the problem you see, is that I am beige. A daywalker. I am a bi-facial. I mean a bi-racial.
Or at least I thought I was until my dad told me this most recent Christmas Day that I was partly black, adding a third shade to my mix. The fact that it was Christmas was coincidental, but I, obviously can’t wait to have kids and tell them that this Christmas morn, Santa brought them the gift of “racial ambiguity!” I’m thinking when they’re seven. (Go on! Go show the neighbour kids! Your face).
My father, like many people who have recently acquired a seniors card, has developed an acute obsession with Ancestry.com and has been periodically sending long emails detailing everything he’s learned about the white side of my family:
Castles owned and tragically lost (Lennox castle of Scotland), colonies lorded over racistly (India, Réunion, Borneo, China), plantations owned (rubber) and foundations named after (John Bost Foundation, which helps the mentally “unpredictable” in France).
“Shits given” by myself were always close to zero, but as most people can attest, I am emotionally dead inside. I found it interesting only in a low-key way, knowing that every family that ever was or ever will be, will include rich people, poor people, geniuses, republicans, criminals, royalty, and dirty, dirty commoners such is the breadth of time and variability of circumstance.
I have never had a strong inclination to find out “who I am.”
Besides, if the Scottish castle was still in the family name today, by now I’d likely own only about one two-hundred-and-fifty-sixth of its value anyway (You can have the groin protector of this armor suit, two hearth pokers and you can look out one of the windows in the North-East turret). Less if the wider family were more resolute in their Catholicism than I’ve been. Either way I’m still no more a Scottish Lord than I am a philanthropic Frenchman.
But when he tells me I’m part black then I’m interested? Apparently, back in the Pirates of the Caribbean days of periwigged British Redcoats and Napoleon stomping all over Europe in a funny hat, there was a Bost serving as garrison commander of the French colony of Reunion island east of Madagascar, who fell in love with, and married a freed slave. It was very woke of him for the time. Way more woke than my current living grandmother.
Here’s how stupid I am though: my very first thoughts, were “COOL!”, “Oh, it all adds up – I’ve always liked black culture” and “that must be why I’m a fast sprinter.” What am I even talking about??
Everyone likes (American) black culture, especially their music and especially Asians who seem to make up all the non-black people in any given break dancing crew, and of the Asians especially the Filipinos like myself who wear NBA jerseys the way Iranians wear logo polos. That is to say, all the damn time. Do you know any 90’s kids who don’t know the Fresh Prince song?
And being (by my calculation) at most only 3% African, whatever potential genetic athletic advantages I might have inherited would have been diluted into insignificance by about the time of the Boer War.
Besides, back in school, for every black classmate breaking tackles and anchoring the relay team, there was another black classmate spastically tumbling into the long jump pit and emerging with a mouthful of sand.
Applying the race filter to the world doesn’t often seem to build inclusivity… Take dating in predominately white countries. For instance, here are three things white women have said to me as I attempted to date them in university when they found out I was half Asian:
“Asian?” and “You’re Asian?” and “Oh, I just thought you were normal.” They didn’t mean it in any sort of bad way, but the surprise of it made them double take. As if the idea of dating an Asian boy had never occurred to them before. Same as the idea of dating a black girl had never occurred to me. I didn’t know any.
I’m particularly taken with a musical comedy at the moment called “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”, first because it’s hilarious and second because the object of said crazy ex-girlfriend’s affection is a character called Josh Chan, a for real American-Filipino, and the only instance I can think of in allllll of Netflix where an Asian dude has been cast as the romantic lead.
But I don’t like that my heart swells with pride just because an Asian man is desired by a non-Asian woman. I don’t like in retrospect that I got super excited by the idea of being black. Defining yourself by your race sounds laudable in theory but it also means you’re placing yourself in a ‘club’, and placing people who don’t kinda look like you do in some other ‘club’. Time spent talking up our differences takes time away from reveling in all our commonalities. Like fried foods and sleeping in.
Neal Brennan (co-creator of Chappelle’s Show) has an interesting/probably outrageous to many idea on how to end racism by “ending race.”
“From here on out, we just gotta have nothing but mixed babies…You can’t hate what you don’t know what they are.”
End racism with procreation?
Waaaay ahead of you Neal! By running my Filipino-European-AFRICAN heritage, and my girlfriend’s New Zealand-Malay-Chinese heritage through IBM’s Blue Gene/P supercomputer, I have been able to determine what our son, and by extension all future people, will eventually look like.
1.3 trillion computations and $800,000 later here is what it predicts:Magnificent.