Back in the late 70s up until the early 90s in Vietnam, the term half-breed often came with a negative connotation. Among all the perceptions, having half-breed children or being one was a social’s eye-sore. My eldest brother is one, and I know first-hand the experience of going through such hardship just because he is a half-breed.
But I think that was changed soon after the U.S. lifted the trade embargo and the influx of Westerners into Vietnam. Having children of mixed cultures and races was no longer the anomaly but more of an elite trend.
Well, that was Vietnam. And I grew up in America, but because O is black, I still get those glares from people, mostly people from my ethnic group. It is really funny how they show their curiosity towards the boys and O that they appeared a bit flustered when I look straight into their eyes and smile, as if to say, yes, my children are half breed, and they are as beautiful as god had created.
We were at a Vietnamese eatery when this young Vietnamese woman around my age approached and asked us about the boys’ other half of ethnicity, meaning, if I am Vietnamese, when what ethnicity is O. She did not come directly at first, but threw a few glances and a bout of whispers with her partner within earshot from where I sat. But this woman had the courage, and I applauded her because she was very direct of her inquiry. When we gave her the answer, with a genuine smile and all, she was taken aback. She squinted her eye brows, and exhaled with an “ohhh, wow!” She told us we are the first couple of such cultural mix, because she rarely see Vietnamese and O’s people interact/mix up in social settings. When we parted, she commented that the boys are beautiful.
There is always that cultural ignorance that come in between these two groups of people. Maybe O and I are the experimental couple who did go as far as having two kids together. Either way, we are just as normal as any other marriage would be. It is the social perceptions that are cast on us that sometimes make us the “exotic” ones.
I wish that more people like this woman would approach us and ask directly if they are curious. I mean, O and I are very open about it because we have nothing to be ashamed of. We also want to teach our children that their difference does not mark them as inferior compare to others. The more conversation we have about their existence and the cultural mix, the more we want to empower them to be confident of who they are.
On a related note, or maybe not, today we maxed out all the dishes and bowls because I was too lazy to clean up and put them away. Hence, at the end of the day, the dishwasher was filled up to the brim. That also means, we eat a lot, and we have many home cooked meals. Our dining table is the witness of many conversations we have been having.