I understand that a large number of people in the world do not know the difference between ethnicity and nationality, and I think I do a seriously phenomenal job at holding my patience when traveling, but I am REALLY tired of being asked how can I be American if I look Asian (and then being laughed at, as if I am the uninformed one).
Real conversation (which is pretty much replicable over and over again when traveling):
Man looking at my passport: “You are from the States?”
Man: “Are you American?”
Man: “Really?” (And laughs)
Me thinking YES, you are holding my freaking AMERICAN passport: (nods)
Man: “But are you FULL American?”
Me thinking wtf does that mean: “What do you mean.”
Man: “Both your parents are American?”
Man: “But you look like you have some Asian in you.”
Me simultaneously thinking 1) who is this Asian in me — cue Mulan music — and 2) yes, I am 100% Asian: “Yeah, my family is originally from Hong Kong.” (Which is also noted as my birthplace in my AMERICAN PASSPORT.)
Man: (bursts out laughing) “See! I knew it. You are not full American.”
Me: (takes back American passport and disengages with a very American sarcastic smile)
And thus continues the complex identity crisis of a 1.5 generation Asian American immigrant.