With the growing trend of interracial marriages, what are the benefits and challenges faced when raising a mixed race child in Singapore?
When my daughter was born and we had to register her birth certificate, I wondered what exactly we should list under the field, “race”?
My husband is Javanese and I’m ¾ Thai, ¼ Malay, so what does that make my child?
Do we write down Javanese-Thai? Or just Javanese? We certainly weren’t allowed to put in Javanese-Thai-Malay as the most we were only allowed to choose was a double-barrelled race option. There was also the possibility of selecting “Others”.
We eventually chose “Malay” because this is the racial group we both closely identify with in Singapore — and not to mention that there are certain perks to being the supposed bumiputra (indigenous people of the land).
Now that my daughter is four years old, it’s still too early to tell whether she feels more Javanese, or Thai or Malay (or neither one), but she is aware that our families speak different languages and that her golden caramel skin is a perfect blend of her daddy’s brown tan and mummy’s honey olive tone.
But being a mixed race kid is not just about physical appearances and is far more skin-deep than that.
Are there any benefits to being biracial in Singapore? And what are the challenges that one might face here?
Benefits of being mixed race
On a superficial level, there are many who feel that mixed race people are generally more attractive than those who are not of mixed race.
You might even become a chameleon of sorts as people struggle to correctly guess your ethnic blend (which can actually be a pretty fun party trick).
A recent study also shows that mixed race children are actually taller and more intelligent!
Most Singaporeans can speak at least two languages (English and their Mother Tongue), but if both parents speak different languages, chances are that your kids will be able to pick up on it too.
Augustus M., who is of mixed heritage, can speak five different languages all thanks to his Malay-Chinese father and his Indonesian-Dutch mother.
“I can speak English and Malay, I took Mandarin in school, and I learned Javanese and know a little bit of Dutch from my grandparents. Because it’s a little hard to tell what exact race I am, I find that many shopkeepers here are impressed when I converse with them in their native language and will even give me discounts. It’s awesome!”, he tells us.
His wife is Norwegian and they are currently expecting their first baby and plan on letting their little one learn as many languages as he can.
“I think the poor little guy might be a little confused at first and probably wouldn’t know which words to say to which parent or grandparent, but I’m sure he’ll quickly get the hang of it and hopefully grows up to become a multi-linguist like me!”, says Augustus.
Depending on the race as stated on your NRIC, you can use the Housing Development Board’s (HDB) Ethnic Integration Policy to your advantage when trying to obtain a flat according to the racial quota of that particular estate.
Sanjay Jegatheesan, father of one, says, “My wife is Chinese, and I’m Indian-Chinese. Our daughter, Shanika, is registered as Indian at birth. We made the choice to register her as Indian, as I personally believe that she can enjoy the minority privileges later on in life, for example, applying for a flat.”
Just by living in Singapore it is already a great way to learn more about other cultures from your own, as the local population here consists of Chinese, Malays, Indians and Others.
But being a mixed race child will give you the wonderful opportunity to absorb even more culture and learn first-hand about the various customs and traditions of your parentage.
Not to mention getting to eat all the delicious cuisine from both sides and being able to celebrate the many cultural festivals.
Do mixed race kids face any challenges here in Singapore? Keep reading to find out