One of the most important things we hold in life is our identity. Who we are to ourselves, who we are to friends, family and strangers. Our race is undoubtedly a huge part of our identity as a Malaysian. So, what happens when you’re a mixed-race?
Bigo Live streamer Zhu Juna (朱娜) recently shared what it was like growing up as a mixed-race kid in Malaysia. With a Chinese dad and a Malay mother, Juna was often confronted about her racial identity. However, her mixed background has allowed her to mingle well with both groups. In fact, she’s been dubbed as a “daughter of Malaysia”!
Juna officially became a Bigo Live host in February this year, thanks to her popularity as a streamer on the site. What truly draws viewers to her stream however is her ability to switch seamlessly between Malay, Chinese and English. Needless to say, her proficiency in the three languages as well as her mix-ethnic background has gained her the support of fans across all races. While her background seems like a boon now, Juna explains it was more of a problem when she was younger.
“When I was young, my mother (would) always bring me (on outings) without my father. And when I’m out with my mother, people would ask her (my mother) if she was looking after her boss’ kid,” the 24-year-old recalled. Apparently strangers would assume Juna was being looked after by a maid instead of her mother as Juna’s skin is fairer than her mom’s. No matter what she said, people refused to believe her.
Juna’s challenges as a mixed-kid didn’t stop there however. “When I was younger, I had a conflict; identity confusion,” she said. The streamer explained that she couldn’t decide if she should integrate into the Chinese or Malay circle. “I practised both cultures at home and I did not know the rules,” she shared. “If I do this (with) Malays, I can’t do this (with) Chinese.”
It didn’t help when her schoolmates in secondary school started a debate about whose culture she should be following. “The Chinese boys felt I should follow my father of Chinese descendant because he is the head of our family,” Juna said. “While the Chinese girls stated I should follow my Malay mother.” The clear discrepancy left her feeling confused and lonely.
However, as she grew up, she found a way to face her identity conflict. Juna found friends who were willing to teach her the cultural difference between the two races. “I can adapt in any situation because of how I practice two cultures at the same time,” she said with a proud smile.
That skillset has certainly come in handy on her Bigo Live streams. Juna often demonstrates her proficiency in the languages when she’s joined by her Chinese and Malay friends. She also sings songs in both languages which has impressed many of her viewers.
If anyone had doubts as to whether Juna has found her own identity, the streamer cleared it up quick. “It’s not the skin colour or the language which represents who you are, but it’s your actions and your mindset that represent your own identity,” she stated confidently. Her parting words leave certainty that Juna knows exactly who she is.