Me, My DNA and I

I realise that I haven’t blogged in a while, and it’s not for lack of things happening, more that too much has/is happening.

I recently had my DNA tested. I was one of a dozen or so “foundlings” that were brought together for the TV program Long Lost Family special :Born Without A Trace

Screenshot 2019-03-20 at 06.39.47

My case wasn’t chosen by the TV program. But what I did get was my DNA results and it’s fascinating.

Screenshot 2019-03-20 at 06.43.25

I’m 97% Chinese and 3% Dai (Tai) I also have some small genetic connections to Trinidad Polynesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Laos.

I’ve gone from being a complete non -entity to actually knowing where I am physically from. Knowing that I am related to at least twelve other people spread across the globe. I’m no longer alone. I will of course always be a foundling, an orphan and a recovering transracial adoptee. But one that has distant relatives. In time who knows I might even be able to trace my mother and father.

For those of you who know the day, time and place that you born into. Who can visit the graves of your departed loved ones, who can look at a photograph of your Mother or can point on a map and say that’s where grandad was born, that’s where aunty x came from in 1922. You have no idea what it is like to be a person with literally nothing under your feet .Nothing behind your back supporting you, giving you a reference point for who you are. As a foundling you look into a mirror that reflects nothing back to you it just an empty black hole. Foundlings are like aliens from outer space we have nothing other than the skin that we stand up in.

Plus side is, the next time some smart Alec tries to bring me down by stating I’m “not really Chinese,” I can correct them because I know that DNA wise 97% of it is Chinese and 3% is Dai (Tai)!

 

Bechdel Theatre

A piece of embedded criticism.

Just before I sit to write this I see that at 8:04am this morning I received an email from My Heritage DNA – Congratulations Pippa your DNA results are now ready. I pause. Fuck. Instead of opening the email, I open this word document.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what this role of embedded critic means and how I feel incredibly biased because I’ve been excited about i will still be whole (when you rip me in half) since I saw it was announced on twitter. And I know why I felt so invested so early on: Representation.

It’s a word that I find myself repeating so much (at Bechdel Theatre it’s one of the words we use to describe the aims of our podcast, we chat about gender and representation). However, it’s a word that has become so ingrained in my vernacular, repeated…

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#RealAsianGranny

Unless you’ve been living under a rock deep in the interior of the earth’s core you cannot fail to have come across the hashtag RealAsianGranny, brought on by the newly commissioned CBBC sitcom Living With The Lams.

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I never met my #RealAsianGranny. I never met my #RealAsianMum or my #RealAsianDad. That’s the legacy of being a transracial adoptee. As bitter sweet as it is to see all the differing tales and recollections on my twitter feed, it’s also comforting in a strange way.

Reading the numerous tweets from people remembering their grandmothers, I cannot help but be impressed, overwhelmed by the sheer diversity, depth, breadth and glorious variety. As is the case with any other group of people in the UK, British East Asians have their own diversity. Why this cannot be acknowledged and embraced by the likes of the BBC and Twenty Twenty Television in 2019, lord only knows.

Yet here we are again. British East Asians, fighting to be represented on screen as anything other than the hackneyed, stereotypical, racist tropes of old.
Pilot script even has one character calling another a ‘Chonger’

LWTW_Chonger

Dumplings being retrieved from an oven

steamed dumplings

A Tiger Mum and a Grandmother that spits, speaks very little and when she does it’s not in English and she’s constantly munching on fortune cookies. The Granny is the epitome of all that exotic, eastern mysticism and ‘otherness’, favoured by so many in the west. even now.

All of which has deeply concerned and angered many in the British East Asian Artists community and beyond. The pilot script was written by non-BEA writers.

#RealAsianGranny shows how nuanced, how complex and multifaceted the BEA community is. We are more than the sum of the paltry parts,  some in British culture would confine and shackle us to.

Wake up BBC and smell the coffee!
Have you not heard of Fresh of The Boat?  Or is it because this is a sitcom for children, so it just doesn’t matter? Childrens’ TV is hugely important in helping to shape the attitudes and minds of our future adults by exposing them to the the actuality of our country’s true diversity. Not to re-enforce old prejudices and inaccurate and incorrect stereotypes.

Whatever the rationale,  whatever the justification the corporate mind of the BBC, try and tell themselves,  it just is not acceptable in contemporary, multicultural, poly-ethnic Britain.

The Printroom protest: Yellowface production In Depths of Dead Love
Printroom Yellowface Protest 2017

As a BME (British Minority Ethnic), BEAs see how other BME groups are treated.  How casual, overt, below-the-line, institutionalised and structural racism are, at least, publicly condemned. Yet when it comes to BEAs, some how these sensibilities are not applied. The use of blatant racist terms when levelled against BEAs,  is somehow not as damaging, demeaning or outright offensive.
Public attitudes, press, social media responses are usually peppered with the attitude that we’re making a mountain out of a mole-hill. That somehow these displays of racism and degradation i.e. using the “C” word are acts of affection and meant in a good humoured way!  That the odious practice of Yellowface is, in fact a term of endearment.

Get over yourself, where’s your sense of humour?

That’s a phrase I’ve heard many times an oft when BEAs have identified and called out the hate and racism they witness towards themselves, in culture and everyday life. Surely, as a so called, civilised, contemporary society, that prides itself in being tolerant and just, we have to ask ourselves, why, British East Asians  are treated with such disdain?

 

 

Living With The Lams

@beatsorg #WeAreWriters #WeAreExperienced #WeAreNotRisks 
#BEAStoriesBEAVoices #RepresentationMatters
It is unacceptable that a TV series about the lives of a British East Asian family will not be fully authored by British East Asian writers.
@beatsorg #WeAreWriters #WeAreExperienced #WeAreNotRisks 
#BEAStoriesBEAVoices #RepresentationMatters