I believe in acceptance because it means being comfortable with yourself.
As a half-breed, or to be politically correct, as a biracial individual I’ve found it difficult to accept all parts of myself especially when I was younger. My mom moved here from Cambodia as a teenager and brought a bunch of traditions with her. So as a kid I hated being dragged to the dirty Asian markets, eating food that leaves a smell on you for days, and going to the family parties that involved old drunk Cambodians singing terrible karaoke. There were also the lectures on how “back home” was incredibly superior to America. It didn’t help that I had a bunch of white friends that thought that stuff was pretty weird.
The worst part was probably that I wasn’t fluent in Khmer. My family took this as me not being able to understand any Khmer. Basically, it meant they thought I couldn’t understand them when I was called “white girl.” To sum it up, my white friends thought I had weird Asian traditions and my Asian family considered me the white kid that hung around. At least, that’s what I thought at the time.
It took me years to realize that just because my American friends had different traditions; it didn’t mean they looked down on mine. It took me just as long to realize that although my family members continue to point out my obvious differences they love me anyway. I mean, how could they not? I still attend those family functions a few times a year and stumble through the random Khmer phrases I remember. I perform the awkward bows and mix up the titles between my full Cambodian relatives and the part Chinese ones. Now, when my aunts call me “white girl” I listen for the affection in their tones and their concern if I refuse a third bowl of noodles.
To conclude, I have accepted that I am Cambodian and that I am white. That two cultures have shaped my life, and that they don’t define who I am as a human being. I’ve accepted that I can just be me.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.