Making Sense of Mixed Race Asian Boyhood

By Dr Timothy Kazuo Steains

In my research comparing examples of Asian Australian and Asian American representations of mixed race boyhood, I came across a challenging Asian American mixed race figure called EurasianTiger. He’s associated with a few blogs, a youtube channel, as well as with the once infamous subreddit r/hapas. An older blog generally attributed to him, ‘Stuff Eurasian Males Like’, chronicles the pain of identity confusion and the emasculation brought on by sexual racism. It is an angry collection of writing that highlights EurasianTiger’s apparent failure to assume the masculinity he wants to embody and it places the blame for this inadequacy on various parties: his parents, women, social norms, and himself.

The rhetorical affect of this blog is clearly meant to be inflammatory. For example, he says at one point: “What a curse to be born out of an Asian woman’s vagina. Being born an Asian man out of an Asian woman’s vagina is a miserable experience. Its [sic] even worse when your [sic] a Eurasian man being born out of a[n] Asian woman’s vagina which is used by white men.” EurasianTiger’s politics is often misogynistic and bordering on incel rationale. However, the blog is also a way of being noticed, of drawing attention to the particular pain EurasianTiger feels: a pain that others like him might also feel.

While I often don’t agree with the arguments EurasianTiger made at that particular point in his life, his blog shines a light on aspects of growing up Asian and mixed race that can be uncomfortable to talk about.

One of these is racialised desire and racialisation in mixed race families. Of course, we would do well to remember Tolstoy’s statement that all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way and not draw generalisations only from EurasianTiger’s experience. However, as a host of new ‘how to raise mixed race children’ books have shown, interracial families do need to talk about race more often and in more targeted ways.

EurasianTiger perhaps predictably attacks Asian and white women for desiring white men over Asian men. He sees White Male/Asian Female (WMAF) relationships as an effect of Orientalist desire or ‘yellow fever’. And while it’s obviously erroneous to see all such relationships as defined only by such desire, the question of the racialised sexual hierarchy becomes pointed for Asian mixed race boys when they try to find their own place within that sexual hierarchy.

While race is not the only determiner of someone’s desirability or worth, its role may become enlarged in the minds of mixed race boys if they are not equipped to make sense of experiencing racialisation – especially if they experience it differently to their parents.

“What are you going to tell your son? Yes, there[’]s a lot of racism against Asian men, especially in the dating field. Sorry about that son. Acknowledgement doesn’t solve the problem. Face it, your WMAF is going in the wrong direction. Your WMAF is part of the trend, that Asian women, unlike any other race of women, are totally unsatisfied with their race of men.”

This attack on Asian women who date white men starts with a legitimate concern about how parents of mixed race children will talk to their children about race: about how racism and racialisation affect people in the family. For EurasianTiger, the dream of a mixed race future, where everyone becomes mixed and racism is a thing of the past, wasn’t enough. He still felt victimised along the lines of race, and he tried to find a language to talk about the pain of that experience.

For him, racism was in the family: “For me colored men obeying paternalistic white men, is not an abstract political theory. Its family home life. Accepting my parents as parents means having to accept a white man as a father. Having a father–son relationship with the white master.” While we can explain away part of EurasianTiger’s angst with his apparently racist father, his own feelings of inadequacy in the face of his white father are also a product of social forces of racism. His father experiences racial privileges in the world that he doesn’t. Even if he models himself on his father, he will never achieve the racial position his father holds in the social hierarchy. (I’m not going to tackle white passing in this blog piece but it is certainly an issue worth examining in relation to this argument)

Again, race is not the only determiner of a mixed race boy’s worth and identity. There are many complex, competing, and contradictory factors that shape who a person is. Can we explain this to mixed race boys while not dismissing the role that race plays in their lives and in the lives of their parents?

What EurasianTiger perceives as the sharp lines of racialised desire shaping his life translate into his own experiences of racialised desire. He has ‘no interest’ in Asian women and fetishises white women who are to him “God’s perfection on Earth,” and “the beauty of the West is just a mirror of the Blonds who inspired it all.” ‘Possessing’ white woman endows whiteness on the person who imagines to possess her. As Fanon wrote in Black Skin White Masks: ‘By loving me she proves that I am worthy of white love. I am loved like a white man./I am a white man.”

For me, this desire for whiteness is both a desire to possess someone objectified as white as well as to embody whiteness. To become the white father. It appears that this desire for whiteness is premised on a lack of self worth. However, I don’t wish to demonise all of EurasianTiger’s racialised desire, just as I’m not interested in demonising interracial relationships for whatever interracial desire may exist there.

Interraciality can be profoundly transformative, and it shapes the lives of mixed race people in unique ways. It’s part of their family, it’s part of their identity, and it’s part of their desire too. I believe there are ways to think reparatively about interraciality, as a border transgression that can reshape the self. EurasianTiger’s writing offers me the chance to think about that possibility.

Keep a lookout for an academic publication on this topic to see how I develop these ideas.