Half and Half

Half and Half

The Cornell Daily Sun
Ithaca, New York

Rebecca Lee

Just about the only thing I am looking forward to about graduation is finally being able to meet all of my best friends’ parents.  In high school, we knew our friends’ parents almost as well as our own, calling them by their first names, even dropping a playful “Mom” now and then.   Au contraire, we go through college barely having met the creators of the people with whom we share everything, from our rooms to our nights to our secrets.  Meeting a friend’s parents is an “aha” moment in which you are almost in awe of the physical representation of genetics in front of you.

Ah, genetics.  It’s where I get my mom’s smile and idealism, my dad’s olive skin and innate quietude.  It’s why I can both wear a “Kiss Me I’m Irish” shirt on St. Patrick’s Day and send out Chinese New Year cards when my family misses the traditional holiday season.  It’s why some people think I’m adopted.  It’s why I proudly refer to myself as a halfie.

In all honesty, my Chinese dad grew up in Great Neck and I am not even that good at using chopsticks.   But even though I am thoroughly Americanized, I still feel close to my distinct Chinese heritage.  For one, I am perceptibly Asian, whereas the other half of my genes are a little more, well, recessive. I even spent the first seven years of my life in Chinatown, at a public kindergarten where I was the only kid who didn’t know how to speak Chinese. But I have to wonder whether I would feel as close a connection to my Asian heritage if my last name wasn’t Lee, if my hair wasn’t naturally dark and stick straight, if I didn’t grow up knowing my Chinese grandparents…

…When people say that they only want to be with someone of their same race or religion, I take it as somewhat of a personal offense, since my own mixed-race existence was in such clear defiance of those beliefs.  I used to think it was closed minded of my Catholic friends to only follow up on Catholic advances.  I used to think it was cruel and unusual for my Indian friends to have to only date other Indians.   I used to see it as a kind of discrimination, even.  I used to protest, caught up by a combination of romantic whimsy and defensiveness — Give everyone a fair chance! You can’t help who you fall in love with! People are people!

And it’s true, people are people, but people are also products of their cultures and beliefs.  Is it really discrimination to prefer to be with people who share those things with you?…

Read the entire article here.

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