You are an assortment of all the birthday wishes I ever had, one way or another
A feature in National Geographic‘s October 125th anniversary issue looks at the changing face of America in an article by Lise Funderburg, with portraits of multiracial families by Martin Schoeller, that celebrates the beauty of multiracial diversity and shows the limitations around our current categories when talking about race.
David Kung, a math professor in St. Mary’s City, Maryland, wrestled for years with what box to check when confronted with official forms. His mother is white. His father is Chinese. His last name speaks of his heritage but it is hard to easily slot him into a single category based on his outward appearance. When he had to fill out those forms, sometimes he would check multiple boxes and let someone else figure out how to handle the confusion. Sometimes he would flip a coin. In that moment he thought of family traditions, songs, food, memories. Marking just one box was agonizing. It meant denying part of his ancestry. When the census forms changed, allowing individuals to choose more than one category, David Kung tore into the envelope, checked multiple boxes, and then sat down and cried.
Great article. In Singapore, it’s common to be asked “what are you”, not as a way to adapt to your social customs, but to classify and stereotype you in an offensive manner. I’m Chinese-Malay, but in Sinocentric Singapore, I am only Chinese when it’s convenient.