Honestly, I remember being taught about the different races that make Singapore, we even had an Eurasian President. How come still so many questions about Eurasians?
Top Nine Irritating Things People Say To Eurasians
Like Joseph Schooling, no one believes I’m Singaporean. Call it the minority’s curse. Call it micro-aggression. I’m so used to being a minority, it’s part of my identity. Although I am second-generation, born and raised, I am constantly explaining my heritage to people inside and out of the country, ‘Porean and non-Porean alike. Why? Because the assumption is of course, that to be Singaporean is to be Chinese. But actually I’m so Singaporean I represent a combination of two of our nation’s official races – I am half Indian, half Eurasian. And I bleed red and white. I took the 73 bus to CHIJ Toa Payoh every morning, hung out at Far East Plaza after school, I swear like a hokkien sailor, I am a stickler for rules and efficiency, I get teary when I sing Home and I talk about food while taking pictures of food while eating.
Here are the most common irritating questions I answer at least once a week.
1. “You’re from Singapore? Sure or not?”
Ignoramus assumes all Singaporeans are Chinese. What reason do I have to lie about my nationality? Do I look like some terrorist hiding from my government?
2. “So what are you? How come like that one”
Aiyo. How much time do you have? Here’s the spiel I have practised over the years: “ Do you know a couple where one partner is European and the other, Asian? Imagine they have a daughter, Jane. Do you know another couple like that? Imagine they have a son John. Let’s say Jane and John grow up, get married and have a baby. Then John and Jane’s kid grows up and marries someone like them and they have a rojak baby. If that went on, the great-great-granddaughter would be like me. My mix is Indian, Macanese, Portguese, Dutch, Spanish, Thai. But every Eurasian is a different combination.”
3. “How come your surname ang moh one?
Because most of the explorers who came across from Europe were men who married Asian women, their surnames stuck. Like that lor. Fun fact the Phillippines, India and Sri Lanka were occupied by the same Euro colonisers and have the same story with the surnames. Hence Indians/Sri Lankans with surnames like De Cruz, Pereira and Filipino Garcias and Lopez.
4. “Haha ya right. Whatever.”
Some people think we are making this all up to sound exotic and interesting. Dude, you think I want to spend that much of my life educating people about Southeast Asian history? I don’t need to invent a mongrel identity to make me sound interesting, thank you very much.
5. “Are you pure Eurasian?”
This one comes most commonly from other Eurasians who have hilariously decided there is such a thing as “purity” in a community defined by its mixed parentage. My father is Indian and my mother is Eurasian, I speak English and Mandarin. The only thing pure about me is that I’m 100% Singaporean.
6. “Wah so exotic! So lucky!”
Er… thanks? Actually sometimes I envy people who can say they are Malay from Malaysia or British from Britain. So simple! So neat.
7. “Do you feel more [this race] or more [this race]?
I speak for myself when I say I identify with both and see characteristics of both in my personality. But for the most part I’m just pretty confused.
8. “You don’t look Singaporean.”
Translation: How come you are not Chinese. Well, it’s a very cosmopolitan country. With minority communities that are ethnic Indian, Malay and Eurasian among many others.
9. “What race are your friends?”
Who chooses friends by race? Is this a pure-blood thing that all you monoethnics do? When my friends and family get together it looks like the UN general assembly, but without the stuffy suits. And to be honest, I really like it that way. I have gained so much from my mixed heritage, one outcome of it is that I am curious and open to people of all cultures. My two-year-old nephew is continuing the legacy, his British father has added English to the mix.
Open your eyes people, the beauty of this country is its meltingpot-ness. We have a long history of accepting people from foreign shores. So stop assuming Singaporeans are one colour, and embrace the awesomeness that is our multicultural success story.
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