Cappucino Kids

Cappucino Kids, Mongrels, Bannana’s, Half-castes, Mixers whatever you wanna call it, growing up the daughter of an Indonesian and Australian comes with its labels.. the fun of it is trying to work out what they all mean.. so i guess Mongrel, Mixer and Half caste are self-explanatory. But Bannana? Upon further analysis it seems a bannana is actually a full blooded Asian who has grown up in a western country – hence yellow on the outside and white on the inside. Cappucino kid is a mix of half milk half coffee – this one has to be my favourite because it just rolls of the tongue..

This leads me onto the whole half-breed category of people, obviously im only talking from my own experiences and in no way aim to make any generalisations, but its hard to work out where one fits in. I’ve often found myself in the midst of heated debates about Indonesia and Australia and find myself experiencing an inner turmoil about who to defend. Whichever one i choose i always feel inately guilty about the decision. So what to do in such a dillemma? I find sitting there quietly gives a sign of indifference or compliancy yet when you say your bit your viewed as defensive or as having an inherent bias.

The question of nationality always confuses me also, for some reasons the question “Whats your nationality?” or the even cooler version “Whats your natio?” have become common introductory questions. I tend to follow citizenship so I say Australian but then the question is followed up with “Nah but whats like you know your natio, like your background and stuff” (imagine that being asked in a bogan accent) in which case the answer would still be Australian because that is my background, yet what they’re really asking is from where my parents are from right? or why is it that i have darker skin, slantier eyes, and black hair? To which i go into a detailed explanation of ‘my background’ – i find the whole thing really odd. If i were completely white, rounded eyed, with brown – blonde hair i dont think anyone would ask me what my nationality was. The question of background is always a bit odd too because everyone has a background if i was to get into real detail about it all i could go into western europian ancestors and probably trace myself back to somewhere in Ireland aswell… anyway thats the end of my rant🙂

Thoughts?

4 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    anonymouscharley said,

    Ooo a very interesting and thought provoking post there Lee! I love it – this is exactly what this blog should be for! I would like to do it justice by writing a proppily thought through response, but as that’s going to take me ages (as I’m such a procrastinater) I thought I better just give this quick comment first.

    That whole being asked your nationality (or ‘natio’) everytime you meet someone must get so anoying. Especially when it means you have to spend the beginnings of all those convosations talking about what must be a pretty dead topic to you, at least when they’re not interested in the D and M side.

    But I know too when I see so called cappucino kids I’m always curious to know where they’re from, where their parents are from and where they’ve grown up etc. I’m nearly always very hesetant to ask the question though. I often come across the problem with taxi drivers; I don’t like to ask ‘where are you from?’ or ‘what’s your natio?’, because they seem somewhat rude, especially as they may have recently aquired Australian nationality or something. I usually just ask where they grou up, how long they’ve been in Canberra, where else they’ve lived etc, as this is more what I’m interested in. Though I guess ‘what’s your natio’ may be better and more to the point in some situations. One time I asked this girl (who turned out to be half Thai half Australian) where she was from. She answered ‘Australia’. Clearly I asked the wrong question. I felt a bit guilty about this, being so presumptuous that she wasn’t from Australia when she was probably just as Australian if not more so then me. But really it was just curiosity to find out more about her. I didn’t ask her any more questions relating to nationality after that.

    I on the other hand wouldn’t stand out so much, but I do on occasion get asked about my nationality (I’ve never had someone say ‘natio’ to me, maybe I don’t hangout with the right croud). My prefered option, at least in informal situations is to ask the person to guess. I’ve gotten responses ranging from Italian, Greek, Spanish, Arab, and sometimes even Asian. I would always end up answering that I was Australian, my relatives having come here mainly from England and France.

    But then things changed in high school when I was doing a family tree project for history, and my parents told me that I had a great grandfather who was aboriginal but that it had been hushed up in the family. This then made me a little confused when I once went for a police interview, and for job interviews and things, where I got the question ‘Are you Aboriginal?’, which is a rutine question. One side of me wanted to say ‘yes’, but then again for the relevant purposes (ie whether I needed special services etc) I wasn’t.

    In Indonesia, where asking where someone is from is a very common question and often a convosation starter, as a simple way out I just say that my family has been in Australia for mgenerations. As this question does get a little tiring though I have taken to shocking people by saying I’m from Wonosobo (a little mountin town in Central Java) just to see their reactions. It’s great fun! Then of course we often have to go through the whole ‘but where were you born?’, ‘where are your parents from?’, ‘was your mum Indonesian and your dad white?’ thing. I guess I’m just hypocritical now when I think about it; finding those questions anoying but asking them myself when the tables are turned.

    Well, it wasn’t such a quick comment after all. Sorry.🙂

  2. 2

    Here’s an interesting article on nationality and citizenship in Indonesia, called No Such Thing as an Original Citizen: http://www.kabar-irian.com/pipermail/kabar-indonesia/2006-July/008614.html.

  3. 3

    anonymouslee said,

    Wow thats great hey! It means that all those people without papers or KTP’s can get them now, making census’ etc alot more accurate.

  4. 4

    Charley said,

    Another lable is “egg”, white on the outside but yellow on the inside. I’ll leave you to think about what exactly that is….


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