Time for Giving 2018, Reflecting on Multicultural Identity After Watching Trevor Noah

Comments: The above photo comes from Pexels.com

My wallet is weeping despite my considerate choices in purchases, and vendors. Part of the reason is that I am providing gifts to more than usual this year, and I am going to be visiting four families this year (if the weather does not interfere). Another reason is that I had to spend a little more on our holiday party plans this time around, namely for feeding myself at the departmental party. I am not complaining: we all had a good time and some of us decided to go for ice cream afterward from a mom-n-pop venue. Still, capitalism mandates investments coming in the form of money.  So, the money gods received a hefty offering.

I am almost done with my gift-preparation and cards. Basically, I have one card, and then a card-and-gift set for two friends who graduated. Said friend struggles with unnatural scents, so I purchased her a modest Whole Foods gift card so she can invest in some mists that are better for her. Figured it was a good way to give her both my congratulations and Yuletide wishes.

Last night, I admittedly felt in better spirits than I had for the past few weeks. One reason was that I started to watch the Netflix specials of Trevor Noah. Suffice to say, I think I found another favorite. Before, I watched Stephen Colbert and occasionally John Oliver. I still love the former of these two, but Trevor Noah resonates with me for a number of reasons. Many people of African descent find him appealing because he is a South African native and in American culture, is considered African-American. My own reasons are slightly different, considering I do not believe I have that ancestry in my DNA (as far as Ancestry.com and I know). Trevor Noah appeals to me because, for the first time in my life, I see a comedian who actually “gets” what it is like to be a product of two contrasting cultures. He also, especially understands the experience of being multiracial.

At the end of the day, I have traits from both my Asian and my “American” make-up (assumed normative, Caucasian/etc), yet I do not fully belong to either. The best part of it is not that we had a choice in identifying with one or another culture; it never works that way. Multiracial children who look more Caucasian certainly will have it easier than the ones who look like they have “something else” in them, no matter how much people say we are “one race.” They will have a better chance blending into the mainstream than children who appear to have “something else” in there. None of it is conscious, and many remarks on the topic delivered by Caucasians are done with good intentions, though no less revealing of that reality. I may identify “most” with Asian-Americans, but I know I am not “fully” part of that experience, either. For one, it had been decades since I spoke my grandmother’s language, and if I pick it up again, it may be hard to keep it. Even when I did speak her language, I was considered “that American cousin.”

Another aspect of growing up as a multiracial, multicultural child that Trevor gets is that people will put one in different categories over time. When growing up, I was told to mark White and Asian in my demographic information, and I still do this sometimes. Other times, I have to mark “more than one race” or “two or more races.” I suppose technically now, I am what they call “Eurasian.” People when seeing you will mistake you as even being from a background very different from the one you are raised. Over the years, due to appearance alone, I have been mistaken as part South Asian, Filipina, Latinx, Greek, and even Italian and Arabic. Someone recently even asked if I had some Cambodian in me. I can count only two cases I had someone mistake me as Caucasian; I lost count on the contrary instances. Trevor Noah relayed his experience of being considered Mexican for twenty minutes, among other ones. The comedian made me laugh hysterically at some of this, yet deep inside: I knew there was truth to his words.

Suffice to say, I think Trevor’s voice is refreshing in the comedy world. He was not born in the United States, so having someone who can provide an outsiders’ voice while also reflecting (and joking) about his homeland is nice. There is also that tone that speaks authentically of his intentions: that he wants everyone to enjoy his work, no matter their background. Considering what he went through in South Africa, it says a lot about his character that he is willing to take that chance.

Anyone who has not watched him before should definitely do so. As of recent days, he has taken over Jon Stewart’s Daily Show. However, I really enjoyed watching his Netflix specials the most. There is a lot of lightness, insight, and humor in them.

I need to finish the last bit of the gifting and cards. If things go well tonight, I will have a chance to do some writing. Please be good to yourselves!


Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: