Friday, October 14, 2011

Your Race

*Part of 5 Usaha, 2006 :)*

Since I was little, I had always been aware of my skin color and my facial features that categorize me into a certain racial group, and with the things and stereotypes that comes along with it. This is because I am from a multiracial family: my mother is Chinese while my father is Malay- the majority group in Malaysia.

Being born in a multiracial family could be a blessing, and also a curse. My older brother inherited physical features from both my parents; he could blend in a Chinese or a Malay group of friends without anyone identifying him as a 'black sheep'. My younger sister only inherited my mother's side, hence she has all the physical features of a Chinese. She almost always will experience someone at the cashier or in a shop talking to her in Mandarin, even though she does not understand the language at all; she would simply smile back in return. There was once that my brother and sister went into a Chinese barber shop together, and the Chinese lady spoke to both of them in Mandarin (or other Chinese languages) and even mistaken them to be a couple. :p

*my siblings and I :) <3*

I followed my father's physical features almost a 100%; you could say that I am the 'girl' version of him. With that being said, my 'race' is definitely a Malay; so is the race of my siblings despite them having Chinese physical features.
*my parents :) <3*

Whenever we would go back to my mother's or father's families hometown for holidays, celebrations or even just for a visit, I had always felt different because of my 'race'. Whenever I would go back to my mother's side, everyone there were Chinese, even though they spoke English, Malay (our mother tongue) and Hokkien very very well, and they were all very very warm and friendly people. Even so, I couldn't help but always feel 'left out' sometimes during those family gatherings just because of my physical features.
*angpows given at CNY :)*

It has been a while since I've gone back to visit them since I am here in Pennstate for studies, but I do hope I will be able to overcome the differences, and focus more on what I actually have; warm and loving relatives. :)
*My parents and my mom's siblings :)*

Another different story happens when we visit my father's family side; none of my cousins were in my age range (they were either my brother's age or my younger sister's age) so I am often left out without anyone to play with haha :p but things do get better once we get older.

*delicious Raya cookies! YES DOLPHIN SHAPE specially for me ;p*

Being a mix, I had always had friends of the three racial groups in Malaysia without much hesitation; Malay, Chinese and Indian. During elementary school, some of my friends of all races and I spoke English more fluently than Malay (surprise!). As I moved up to high school, most of my Malay friends talked more Malay than English; hence the start of my 'social education' in speaking our mother tongue as I also speak English at home with my family.

*my elementary school best buds! Reunion ;p*

Even though my friends and I have no problem with our differences, the education system back at home certainly separates us by our race. There is a scholarship to further our studies abroad specifically for Malays, which is the scholarship that I am under. The Chinese and Indians do have opportunities to apply for other scholarships, but it is definitely much tougher for them to get one compared to Malays because of the limited quantities and high competition.

It is no doubt that Chinese students often get amazing grades and are even more qualified to get a scholarship compared to others, but Malays have that sort of 'White privilege' that Whites have the U.S. There has been protests and disagreement on this inequality; even my friends and I of different races do not agree with the inequality.

*together we stand in uniforms :)*

Despite benefiting from my Malay 'privilege', I would still root for equality of education because I know some of my friends are more qualified for opportunities like these. And besides, if I keep getting great privileges without much of a fight, I will tend to take it for granted and not do my best to achieve what I am capable of. Hence the reason why our Malay stereotypes are people who are lazy, never on time and ignorant. I am absolutely positive that if everyone had an equal amount of opportunity to further our studies and in any matter in that case, we will be working our butt off to fight for those opportunities.

In the end, everyone will definitely benefit; Malays will no longer be lazy and will become more productive individuals and will not take opportunities that they have for granted, and that Chinese and Indians will also prosper in our country without facing discrimination. Then only we may be, proud Malaysians. :)

*My high school classmates! graduation Day :) 2006*

"And one of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your tongues and colors; most surely there are signs in this for the learned." Qur'an (30:22)

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