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But what was more subtle was the reminder that I was the "token Asian," the one unlike the others, in a group of white people.My decision to not react at the time was not only based on the fact that no one else did; I didn't want to risk being seen as "overly sensitive" in front of my boyfriend and his family, all of whom were uncomfortably trying to change the subject.But being in an interracial relationship has made me increasingly aware of the subtle (and often unintentional) comments thrown at me by people who end up forcing me back into neat and racially labeled boxes.It's hard to believe, since interracial couples are a fast growing demographic and spotting them in a major city is about as common as finding a string of cabs at a downtown intersection.About a year ago, I spent a weekend at my boyfriend's cottage with his family.They say nothing brings out the worst in people quite like a competitive game of beer pong, and one Friday afternoon, I happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.In fact, Deliovsky points out that the celebrated increase of interracial couples hides their complex experiences of discrimination, including how they deal with racism.
As I watched a group of drunk 20-somethings rearrange a set of cups into a pyramid, one of them turned to me and said, "Hey Vicky, this is your game, it's like ping pong." And there it was.
A timely "joke" that categorically placed me, an Asian woman, under a racially driven stereotype that is often recycled again and again in cringe-worthy films such as .
Looking back, there is still a part of me that feels my lack of reaction actually perpetuated a stereotype about Asian women that I've tried to separate myself from—that we're submissive, passive, and eager to please. My current relationship began four years ago, but until that moment in the cottage, I'd never been more aware of the fact that it is also an interracial relationship.
Growing up in Toronto, one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, I rarely experienced outright racism from other people.
My curiosity about what these trends actually mean led me to reach out to Katerina Deliovsky, a sociologist who has studied interracial couples for years.
"We know very little about the actual challenges and joys that interracial coupling brings," she says.