There was an esteemed woman in our Chinese church in Cincinnati, whose English was not her native tongue. She called children of mixed marriages, “mixed up children,” when presumably she meant “mixed” children. However, over the process of decades, I’ve come to realize that we are all, indeed, mixed up.
在我们教会里以前有一位我们都很敬重的女士。她的母语不是英语。她称异族通婚生下的孩子们为“mixed up”。这在英文有着头脑混乱的意思。她的意思是“mixed”,混合不同血缘的孩子们。经过数十年的经历，我开始体会到我们其实都是混合的人。也可以说是好意的 “mixed up” 。
If we watch carefully the different people we, we rarely see anybody who is actually “purely” this, or that. We all are a mixture of all kinds of genetic or environmental influences in our lives.
I grew up with an American born mother (who spoke no Chinese), who insisted on “indoctrinating me” in American culture. I was brought weekly to the American USIS (US Information Service) library, which basically introduced me to the America of the early 20th century, including many classical American heroes, such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, etc., and all the American traditional values and virtues. So growing up, my image of America was a very positive one, uncontaminated by, and very different from, the later 60s culture of the US. And of course my first language was American English.我是我在美国出生的母亲带大的。母亲是一个文静的人。她的生活方式以及文化背景更像一个在亚洲的欧美白人。她十分坚决的向我灌输美国文化。她每周都带我去美国新闻处（US Information Service）图书馆。我在那里认识了二十世纪初的美国文化，众多美国经典的英雄们如华盛顿以及林肯，和所有美国传统的价值观及伦理道德。在我成长的年月里，我对美国有着极正面与六十年代末美国文化完全不同的印象。理所当然的，我美国英语是我的母语。
Since I am linguistically bold (or brash), I have often functioned as translator. One day I was translating for Jamie Taylor, who is the descendant of a long line of Chinese-speaking “white” missionaries, beginning with Hudson Taylor, one of the earliest missionaries to China. Jamie was born in Taiwan , and his Chinese is likely better than his English, so this “white man” would be giving a message in Chinese, while I, as an Asian would be translating it into English. One might be forgiven to sense something odd there!?
I remember also walking on the streets of Yunnan, China, with Dr. James Taylor (Jamie’s father, and great-great-grandson of Hudson Taylor), who looks typically white, but has a posture and mannerism of a Chinese mandarin; and also a Singaporean, ethnic Chinese man. I asked a fruit vendor on the street, which of the 3 people did he think was actually born in China? The fruit vendor was extremely alert, and he instinctively pointed to Dr. Taylor, the “white guy” (which was correct), which goes to show how mixed up everybody is.
I remember asking the children of a rural village in China that if a person of Chinese ancestry is born in America, is he Chinese or American? The smart answer from these 7th graders was “he is American!” So then I pointed to Dr. Taylor, and said if this white person was born in China (which he was), is he considered Chinese or American? The kids had very puzzled looks on their faces for quite a while, and then they shouted “he should be Chinese!” Which is something that many governments could learn.
Commonly, Dr. Taylor would give a joke that he is like an “egg”, meaning that his outside is white, but his inside is yellow; whereas many Asian Americans are like “bananas,” yellow on the outside, but white on the inside. Are you mixed up yet?
One of the more interesting things I’ve noticed at our “mixed up” church, is that we have a couple that are ostensibly Chinese for many generations, but who gave birth to two boys who have golden hair, and look for all intents and purposes like they are “white” kids. The boys continually perplex many people who see them. “Were they swapped at birth?” someone even asked. Swapped twice? The children are a great reminder that we are all mixed up people. One race, just all mixed up.
Author’s note: When the Good Lord created us all, He made us all humans, of one race. Over the generations, this human race has morphed into various shapes and sizes and colors, but humans are humans, it’s just that we are all mixed up.