Biracial White/Asian Travels to Southern States

fb5816c55d244e4a96def584ea01baf8_ASean B.,
Riverside, CA.

I am half white and half Filipino. Growing up in a melting pot such as Southern California has been awesome. I never truly understood how lucky I was to live here until I traveled to the south (multiple states) to visit family. My wife is Filipina (born in the south). While I seemed to get along OKAY in the south (most people thought I was Mexican or Southern European of sorts because of my dark hair), people would stare at my wife as if she were some sort of unknown entity. People weren’t necessarily rude, but they would just stare as if they had never seen an Asian person in real life before. A white waitress even bowed her head to my wife after serving her a drink (which was HILARIOUS btw). I guess that I can see how people get comfortable in small towns, and that’s all they know, which leads to them never wanting to leave their small town. This especially makes sense for individuals who are part of the majority, and never traveled to coastal areas where whites are sometimes the minority.

I never really thought of myself as a minority until I traveled to the south. To all of the biracial individuals in the south: You can have a better quality of life in most coastal and liberal states. I think that Florida and some parts of Texas seem okay for minorities as well.

Here in the melting pot of California, I am the unknown. I’m used to it, and if anything, I’ve learned to use it to my advantage. I view myself as somewhat of a social chameleon. Latinos/Asians assume I’m white, but once they find out I’m half Asian it’s like we all of the sudden have this shared ‘you’re a minority so you get it’ bond. Which is fine by me. Whites are usually unsure of what I am because while I have an Irish first name and French last name, my hair is a little on the dark side. They assume I must be some kind of European. Perhaps Spanish? Maybe even part Mexican since this is Southern California. I grew up in a diverse neighborhood and had a lot of Mexican, White, Filipino and Black friends, so I honestly feel that I can relate to most people. I’ve had a black person tell me, “I don’t really view you as a white person-you’re just Sean.” I have a diverse group of friends and family, and we all bring our different cultures to the table, and we all have a great time. We bust each other’s chops a lot, but it’s all in good humor.

I have a good career, and I make pretty good money. Sadly, I’m not sure that I would have been given the opportunities that I’ve been given had I been viewed as a minority, which would certainly have been the case had I went to school and started my career in the south. I never really thought too deeply about racism until I traveled to the south. Racism is just not as prevalent here. I guess that this is somewhat cathartic for me. Soon, I will be applying to schools for a very competitive field that requires a professional/doctorate degree. A lot of programs are in the south. While I am admittedly somewhat hesitant to apply, I feel that it might be a good life experience. Surprisingly enough, my wife loves the south and wouldn’t mind moving–Go figure?

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