Australian born Chinese, belongs to neither


I have been thinking about my identity. I have spent my life in Australia, my parents are ethnic Chinese and speak little English. While I pretty much feel no connection to my Chinese heritage, I also do not feel connected to Australian culture. Going through primary and secondary school, I was always surrounded by non-white people, and yet always had the knowledge that I was part of the minority.
In a sense, not identifying with any of my endemic cultures is liberating. I sometimes felt as though I’m race-entropic, but not in the sense that I don’t see colour. I think our race does shape our world perspective and living in Australia means I can appreciate the nuances of a lot of cultures in a relatively peaceful setting. I mused once to my friends that there aren’t many places in the world where some ethnically Chinese students can have a spicy chicken burger, some Coronas and smoke argileh on a casual Friday night. What I mean by race-entropic is that feelings of cultural/nationalist identity and pride are so alien to me that they rarely surface into consciousness. For awhile, I was perfectly content in identifying as non-white.
Although the last couple of years have really illuminated the problem of echo chambers driven by cultural anxiety. Even though my heritage/culture didn’t really matter to me, the world seems to have shifted and buckled under the weight of either our anxieties or our intolerance. It makes me sad that platforms for productive discourse between people with conflicting world views/ideas seem scarce. Maybe they always have been, I’m too young to know.
As much as I want to believe in and strive for racial equality, I think I understand white anxiety. I also don’t think those two ideas are mutually exclusive. Although I think it’s difficult, I believe that anxiety should be validated. Because I guess to have a culturally motivated concern/anxiety ignored, just by virtue of someone being…well..white, seems a little unfair.


Tweets by Michele Norris