Race? What's that?

this awesomeness is by [rin] , Saturday, August 29, 2009 1:58 PM

As I flipped open my copy of The Star Weekender today, I immediately saw the headlines "Race? What's that?" on the first page.
My fingers started tingling to get typing about the race-ambiguity piece.
But as I read further, my fingers stopped twitching and instead I began to feel a glow of satisfaction.
Especially when reading Sharyn Lisa Shufiyan and Farrell Tan's opinions.
Why?
Because they echo my own and unlike myself, they got the opportunity to tell the world - in black and white print - how they feel about the latest '1Malaysia' concept.
I found myself nodding and agreeing with them as I read about what they had to say.

Today's interviewees were all people of mixed races.
They shared on how other people looked at them oddly - wondering what race and religion they were - and their views on 1Malaysia.
I won't be quoting or explaining what they said, so if you really want to understand the whole deal, I suggest that you get a copy of the papers and read the article yourselves.

I've encountered many incidences where people would look at me oddly, too.
But for me, it isn't so much as a question about my race (I'm quite obviously Chinese) than it is about my ability to speak the language.
I can speak fluent English and when I speak BM, it is with the Malay slang which makes me sound very kampung-Malay-ish.
I guess it is because of this that some come to the conclusion that I can't understand Mandarin.
Sometimes I am called a 'banana' (A Chinese who cannot speak Mandarin), too.
That is, until I open my mouth and reply their (Sometimes rude) remarks in Mandarin.
Or Hokkien.
Or Cantonese.
Or Hockchew.
The expression on some of their faces - especially those who have been saying some not-so-nice things - is priceless.

Hopefully I don't sound like I'm boasting, but I've always had a flair for languages.
I can learn dialects fast, just by listening.
And I also have a colourful family background.
I am half Hockchew and half Cantonese; when I was young my nanny spoke to me in Mandarin (Later on I took up classes for a few years to learn reading and writing the language); and I picked up Hokkien by ear (Am picking up Hockchiang now).

It irks me a lot when people just assume that I can't speak/read/write Mandarin.
But this is just a small matter compared to those of mixed parentage.

Peranakan + Arabian + Japanese + Indian = ?
How do people like this fill up forms?
If the forms are like the PMR and SPM ones (1. Melayu, 2. Lain-lain), then it would be an easier choice.
But if they're like this:
  1. Melayu
  2. Cina
  3. India
  4. Lain-lain - Nyatakan:_______________
Then how would they fill them up?
Choose 3. India?
Or choose 4. Lain-lain and spend 10 minutes writing an essay to explain their heritage?
In this case, abolishment of the 'Race' category in forms would certainly save those of mixed race a lot of trouble and confusion.

Anyway, they're just my views on the issue, we all know that politically, you're whatever race your father is.
*Cough*Sexist*Cough*.
Ooh, looks like I'm coming down with a flu.
Better go to bed to ward it off.
Ciao!
=P

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