A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

After working in Singapore for a year and a half, a few weeks ago, it finally happened. I was having a fun Friday afternoon with my client and we were a little tired and slap happy after successfully launching a big event that week. One of my clients leaned in as we were all saying goodbyes in the lobby, and asked me if I were part Asian. It felt out of the blue! We have been working together for over a year, and while we get along well and are amicable, I by no means consider us close. I have mentioned in the past that since moving to Singapore, only once has a Singaporean asked me if I were part Asian. I used to get asked CONSTANTLY when I was in college if I were “mixed” or part Asian. I really feel this was in part reflective of that time, where “mixed race” was really trendy in television, movies, ad campaigns, and pop culture. After college, as a working professional, colleagues have rarely asked me, given the politically correct world we live in. And quite frankly, I am so grateful people don’t ask me. It drives me nuts. Usually I tense up and feel so uncomfortable. Perhaps because I really enjoy this woman and she asked in such a kind way, I straightforwardly told her the truth, that I had BPES. She has a medical background, so she immediately searched it online and showed genuine interest. She also normalized my experience, sharing that she used to be a NICU nurse and it was really common for babies to have minor uncommon genetic disorders. While this question caught me off guard and went okay, I hope no one asks me any time soon. I always feel like such an imposter when I have to say no, I’m not part Asian. People typically seem so disappointed when they learn they are wrong, and I am not of mixed race. While it wasn’t the best, it felt like a sign of growth that I was able to talk about this without wanting to melt into the floor and disappear. I think in this situation it helped that people rarely ask me about my eyes anymore, I think this woman is so kind, and she immediately related it to the medical profession instead of talking about race.

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