I never knew that inter-marriage can cause problems for my children until they were about 8 or 9 years old. My son came home one day and bombarded me with questions: What am I? Am I a Singaporean or an Egyptian? I don’t look either. What is my race? Why must we follow father’s race? He looked upset. Obviously his friends must have triggered all these queries in his young mind.
I tried to explain things in as simple as possible to him. He understood, but apparently he felt lost. He is neither here nor there – that’s what he said. I wanted to tell him that there are many people like him all over the world. I wanted to assure him that there is nothing wrong with being a mixed child, nor should he feel unwanted. For one thing, I myself am mixed. So are many of his cousins, aunts and uncles. In fact, I feel proud and unique of being mixed.
See, my whole family including extended family and in-laws is made up of many different races and there’s a lot of intermarriages in my family alone. Like I mentioned, I’m a little bit of Chinese, Indian and Malay. I have 1 Arab sister-in-law, 1 Thai sister-in-law (but divorced) afterwhich the same brother married an Indonesian (presently now living in Indonesia) which makes 2 Indonesian sisters-in-law, 2 Malaysian Malays brothers-in-law, 2 Malaysian Malay sisters-in-law and 2 Pakistani brothers-in-law. (I have a really big family). I have a niece who married a Pakistani (again??) and a nephew who married an Indian. My sister’s sister-in-law married a Belgian while another sister’s sister-in-law married an Austrian, now living in Korea. And there’s me, married to an Egyptian, and now living in Egypt. So I really don’t see why my son is feeling left out or feeling sour of being mixed. It doesn’t matter where you stay or what your race is. What matters is what is inside one’s heart. What matters is a person’s morality, values, ethics, attitude and behavior.
At age 20, my son still makes comments on how his nose is so ‘Jewish’ (yes, his Egyptian father has some Jewish ancestors) or how so unEgyptian he is. I reiterated my words to him that each one of us is unique in our own different ways. We shouldn’t admire one race over another or try to follow others just because we think their race is better. There is no one better race. There is not even a such thing as pure race. Those are the words of Bill Nye and many anthropologists, sociologists, and other scientists.
Everybody is a mix of something. Our ancestors travel a lot too. They got into intermarriages too. So, how can you be so sure that you are a true Chinese or American or German or British or Emirati? You can’t.
Please watch this beautiful video. Hope it opens up your mind. It makes me tear every time.