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.
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.
Ooh, looks like I'm coming down with a flu.
Better go to bed to ward it off.

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