Some months ago a friend sent me a video featuring mixed race young adults talking about their racial identity and prejudices they’ve experienced. I sent the video to my American cyber friend Nikki. Like myself, Nikki has a Blasian son. We got to talking about our children, how they were coping with the day to day at the height of the BLM protests and how they felt about their racial identity. One thing led to another and the Mixed Heritage Family series was born, in August. From the inception, I began searching for a family based in China, eventually I found Zita. Would her experiences in China bear any similarities to mine in England? This is Zita’s interview.
Zita’s Motherhood Journey
Tell us a bit about yourself and how has your motherhood journey been so far?
My name is Zita, I am a 32 years old African mother of two, living in China. I am an introvert person. I love spending some quality time alone, surfing the web, watching a movie, or reading a book, which I rarely do now that I am on mommy duty 24/7. I also enjoy going to restaurants with my family very much and trying new foods.
I met my husband back in my home country (Rwanda) in 2011. Then moved to China in 2014, and we got married in 2015.
Motherhood didn’t’ come easy for me. It was only a few days before our wedding we found out that we were pregnant. We were over the moon with joy. It was all we wished for but sadly, we lost the pregnancy at 11 weeks. We tried for another 2 years, and we were blessed with our first-born. When I had my daughter, it was unchartered lands. I didn’t know much about babies and, my daughter happened to be a baby who cried a lot. I was sleep deprived, tired and on top of that, I had my mother and mother-in-law giving me opposite advice. Coming from 2 different cultures, I didn’t know who to listen to. It was hard for the first 4-5 months but, later on, I got a handle of motherhood and finally enjoyed being a mommy.
However, with my second born, things went smoothly. I am very confident and I try not to pay much attention to people’s suggestions. I do everything my way and I have a son who is so chill, he barely cries. In China, they say that boys are easy babies than girls, which I didn’t believe before, but now I am starting to.
What is the racial mix of your children?
My husband is Chinese and I am Rwandese. I believe our kids are what people call ‘Blasian’ (black Asians).
Blasian In China
What’s it like for you raising mixed raced children in China?
Life as a foreigner in China is very interesting. China is a country with a rich history, so many places to visit and, a variety of food to try, I never get bored because I learn and discover new things every day. In the 6 years that I have lived here, I don’t think I have tried even 20% of the Chinese dishes.
The only thing I don’t like and it took me a while to adjust to is the stares from people. Some people are so rude that they even take out their phones and snap pictures without asking permission. Whether I’m alone, with my husband or with the kids there are always stares. The kids attract even more stares because where we live some people are now seeing a black person for the first time; now imagine a mixed kid, They go.. ‘Wow… big eyes, is the hair naturally curly? Wow… they are so tall for their age.’ Our daughter gets called “xiao wa wa”(doll) often.
Our kids are called “wai guo xiao hai er” meaning foreign kid. Funny enough people don’t even consider the fact that they are mixed with Chinese because they are darker with curly hair and have a black mommy. They are automatically foreigners which is funny because they don’t even hold my country’s nationality, as China doesn’t allow double nationality. We are often asked if they speak Chinese, not knowing that Chinese is their first language. Wherever we go, people address them in English.
Although big cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai…we don’t get much stares because families like ours are common there and, people are used to seeing foreigners.
Mixed Heritage Family Life
How do you ‘celebrate’ your family’s heritage in your daily life?
Honestly, I am afraid we are losing both my husband’s and my heritage. We both aren’t very traditional people. There are some celebrations, which might be a big deal here or in my home country that we don’t do because they wouldn’t be enough family members to attend on both sides. Therefore, we try our best to celebrate the big events, like New Year, the Chinese New Year and Christmas.
For food, although I am a terrible cook, I do cook both Chinese and my country’s food. Hubby happens to be a very good cook, so we enjoy plenty of Chinese food. When we eat out, 80% of the time we eat Chinese food the rest is foreign food. Our daughter is already used to all types of food.
For language, as we live in a society where Chinese is the only language spoken, and I don’t worry about the kids not being able to speak Chinese, I always use my mother tongue and English which, our daughter understands well and can speak some.
Although we aren’t very traditional, my husband and I, we both have things we do our ways according to the culture we were brought up in, and I love the fact that our babies get to learn from both.
Are any of your fears for their future due to their ethnicity? How do you manage with your fears?
My biggest fear is that they will never fit in Chinese society and that they will be always seen as outsiders even though they were born in China, it’s their home and Chinese is their first language.
What is your biggest wish for your children?
All I wish for our babies is to be themselves and to cherish both parts of their backgrounds. I wish them to be happy, to have big dreams, and to achieves all their dreams.
I thoroughly enjoyed Zita’s open honest interview and I hope you did too. Please comment in the box below, I would love to hear from you.