Their upbringing certainly breeds an enviable racial blindness. My son was playing with a Chinese boy in the playground last week and noticed that a friend of ours, an Australian-born Chinese woman married to an Italian, was watching him.
“He’s my friend, he’s Chinese,” he said, gauchely.
“I can see that,” she replied.
He stopped, puzzled for a moment, then asked: “How did you know?”
She thought for a second. “Well, he looks like me and I’m Chinese.”
Billy looked back at her in incomprehension. “No you’re not,” he said, before running off to play.
My son’s school, an experimental establishment affiliated to the University of Michigan, has also required an adjustment of my expectations. The campus is split into two hemispheres, one side exclusively in Chinese – teachers who don’t speak a word of English, wall posters and books all in Chinese characters – the other in English where the same strictures apply in reverse.
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