Last week, I went to enroll my youngest son in kindergarten. At the school district office, I filled out a stack of paperwork, including the racial background form. Part of the form asked me to check one (just one!) race for my child. The bottom part had a long list of racial and ethnic choices, as many of which as pertained could be chosen.
I sat there, pencil in mid-air, for a good number of minutes, wavering back and forth between Asian and White.
Since I am Asian, my initial instinct was to automatically mark that box. But, my kids are only half-Asian, they don’t even have Chinese names, and they speak English as their first (and pretty much only) language. So for all intents and purposes, maybe their lives are most representative of White culture. Then again, my children attend a public school where there are few Asian students— just a thin sliver of the racial breakdown pie — and the test scores and other demographic data of Asians is not readily reported. I couldn’t remember what I marked for my older son, so in the end I just went with my gut instinct and checked ‘Asian’.
If you have mixed-race children, what do you do?
I ran across a couple of articles on other blogs about being Hapa, which I thought were interesting. Even though I am not mixed race, I am constantly thinking about what this means for my children, and the world view they will grow into.
Here’s an interesting article Clear about Being Mixed from Hyphen Magazine, which includes Kip Fulbeck and President Obama’s half-sister Maya Sotero-Ng, who is part Indonesian and part white. Fulbeck’s exhibit MIXED: Portraits of Multiracial Kids is on dispaly through September at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles.
There was another blog post about being Hapa, but mom-brain fatigue has set in and I cannot remember where it was. Let me know if you see something else pertinent.