I'm An Ethnic Chameleon

I'm An Ethnic Chameleon

"A person of many ethnicities."


I'm an ethnic chameleon. Okay, so that doesn't sound very clear but let me explain. I'm a person of many ethnicities, or at least I look like. Most people who see me will always guess on what I am or what background I come from. Most times, it's negated and I'm given a title without any consideration of how I feel and how I will respond to the poorly guessed responses. This sounds like a small problem but for me, it's a bittersweet hassle.

I'm Puerto Rican, with native Taino heritage and African descent, so I consider myself Afro-Taino. However, I don't necessarily look Afro-Taino nor do I necessarily look Puerto Rican. Ever since the magnificent miracle that is puberty(that's sarcasm), which was at the age of 14, I was always confused for an ethnicity other than my actual ethnic. Over the years it became rather annoying until I became a senior in high school, my Theater teacher was interested in what my background was. When I told her, she was in shock(just like everyone else who'd ask), and told me that I was an "ethnic chameleon." I was confused by the term the minute I heard it but she explained. According to her, I'm a man of many ethnicities, and according to I portray any form ethnicity(in the realm of brown people, now that I think about it) and it would be believable.

I took it lightly, but then as I thought about it, she was right. So as an experiment, I'd ask most underclassmen or most of my co-workers what they thought my ethnic was and it was very surprising. I'd get guesses like Indian, Filipino, Arabic, Palestinian, Columbian, Chilean, Dominican, Native American and plenty more. And within those guesses, not one is usually Puerto Rican. To be honest, I'm perfectly fine with it too. Being guessed on is fun, but then again it also has its flaws. The main flaw is, I don't necessarily look like my ethnicity and that causes controversial arguments with strangers who pre-assume before meeting me. Because I mostly look Indian, it's not that uncommon that most people who are Indian or Middle Eastern would come up to me and speak in their language. Trust me, this happens way too often. And because of this, I don't know what most of these strangers are saying to me, and due to that- people get often offended by me because I'm apparently "disowning my own race." Back then I used to use Tinder and OkCupid to find dates (don't judge, you probably have a Tinder account too), and because I usually don't think my ethnicity is a big portrayal of who I am, I never put it in my bio. It seemed unnecessary because I wouldn't want someone to like me and swipe on me just because of my facial features and assuming I'm a certain race. And unfortunately it happens, and due to the adding Instagram feature on Tinder, I had many women go on to my profile and message me in their language. Although I'd be flattered, I'd deny their request and apologize for not speaking their language and that I'm not actually of their ethnicity. Most occasions, these strangers would catch an attitude or become upset.

It's not unusual but it happens. I had a woman go on to my Instagram page directly from Tinder and picked a fight with me for not being Bengali. When I explained to her that I'm Puerto Rican, she claimed that I'm racist and that I'm a catfish! All because I told her, "Sorry, but I don't know what you're saying, I don't speak that language." In which she responded, "But you look Bengali, you should know the language!"

Me: Sorry I don't, I'm actually Puerto Rican.

Her: That's not believable! That's very disrespectful, don't denounce where you're from you a**hole.

Me: Why am I an a**hole? Because I'm not a race that someone is claiming I am? Well, that's messed up to label me.

Her: (rambled on about me being a racist and claiming to be a catfish)

And according to her, I should put my ethnicity on my bio. Although I hesitated, I eventually ended up doing that for a while. I became insecure until I realized, "Screw that! If I'm an ethnic chameleon, then I'm a freakin' chameleon." So I eventually took it off my bio and lived life the same way I usually do, getting guessed on till this day. It's a fun burden to bare but hey, it's always a fun story to tell.

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17 Signs You Grew Up Irish

Irish and proud!

With a name like Shannon Elizabeth Ryan many people right away sarcastically ask the question "you're not Irish are you?" I always laugh and jokingly say nope not at all. I'm extremely proud of my Irish heritage, but what does it mean to be Irish?

Here are 17 signs you grew up Irish:

1. You have a distinct Irish name: first or last

Shannon, Elizabeth, Michael, Patrick, Sean, James, Ryan, Riley, Mahony, Murphy. Extra points if your last name begins with O', Mac or Mc.

2. You have been called a "potato head" or towhead as a child

Shannon Ryan

"What a bunch or potato heads!" Meaning you were really Irish or really blonde or both.

3. You were raised Catholic

Shannon Ryan

Catholic school, mass every Sunday. Oh and you were most likely an alter server or in the choir and can say the mass forward and backwards.

4. You have a love for potatoes of any kind.

Also, you may have read this book about a potato as a child.

5. You've been told, "Oh, you're Irish, you can hold your drinks."


I mean it's in your blood, right?

6. Funeral, wedding, birthday you really can't tell the difference

Wedding? Get the whiskey. Oh, you said funeral?

... get the whiskey.

7. You know old Irish Songs and sing along with every note

"The Streets of New York," "Black Velvet Band," "Wild Rover," "Molly Malone," "Galway Girl," "Danny Boy," tell me ma all songs I remember being singing along with as a kid.

8. Your favorite holiday is St. Patrick's Day and you go all out

A day to show the world that there are only two types of people in the world: those who are Irish and those that wish they were.

9. You own a Celtic cross, Claddagh ring or any Irish knot jewelry and wear it often

You were most likely given that Celtic cross when you were born and got one for your First Holy Communion. The Claddagh was given by someone who loves you and Irish knots you can never go wrong with.

10. Two words: "soda" and "bread"

Some don't know that the cross made on the top of bread is to keep the devil away and protect the house.

11. You have a HUGE family and the parties and reunions that go along with it are just as big

My family is enormous and this is only half of it and I still don't know everyone.

12. There is no such thing as tanning

Unless you ware one of the blessed ones who do tan I'm extremely jealous. For the rest of us, we have two options pale or red there is no in-between.

13. You may not have the cleanest mouth or quietest voice

But you would never dare say a bad word in front of someone older than you. As for an indoor voice, it's non-existent.

14. You can successfully pull off an “Irish Exit" and then have to explain to your friends the next day what exactly that is when they ask where you went

Basically means you leave the party without anyone knowing.

15. At one point in your life, you've said, “Jesus, Mary, and Joseph" if something went wrong

I heard this a lot growing up and I catch myself saying it every now and again.

16. The only college football team you root for is Notre Dame

I mean is there any other, Let's Go Fighting Irish!

17. Lastly, you are extremely proud of your Irish heritage

We are Irish. We are taught to be strong, have faith in God and learn how to party and have fun. Erin Go Bragh!

Cover Image Credit: kingofwallpapers.com

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I Won't Forgive The Anti-Semitic Students Of Spain Park, Not Yet

Maybe it isn't time for an apology.


I am Jewish. It is something I have never been afraid of and something I value as much in life as I do with my family and friends. Throughout my life, though I have witnessed hate of the Jewish people and jokes made about Jewish people.

In high school, I had to listen to jokes about Jews and the gas chambers and was asked because I was Jewish if I could do someone else's math homework.

To say I had to deal with anti-Semitism in the South does not come close to describing what I had to go through. As time went by the jokes stopped and I thought I would not have to deal with instances of prejudice or bigotry but I was wrong. Growing up as one of the only Jewish people in my friend group and in high school it made me consider myself strong and ready for college but in my freshman year I had to go through other jokes about my religion and even in sophomore year had to witness someone I thought was my friend make a joke about my religion because "he thought it was funny."

I let the instances of anti-Semitism serve as times when I could prove people wrong I learned to forgive and forget.

But I had to witness other acts of hate towards Judaism while in college. From swastikas on a fraternity house, a synagogue shooting, the BDS movement and more hate speech, the hate towards Jews have seemed to grow and I do not understand why. I get hurt each time I hear of an instance but it has not allowed me to view my Judaism any differently. However, there was an occurrence that has affected me in a different way.

It happened in my home state and it has not sat well with me.

On Monday a video surfaced of multiple high school students making anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments. The video featured a guy turning around the camera multiple times to show he was laughing and thought it was funny while others made comments about concentration camps, what would happen if Jews ruled the world and asking what the world would be like without the Holocaust. The students were from Spain Park in Birmingham and have gathered quite a reputation online.

To say I am filled with anger, disappointment, and embarrassment is an understatement.

This is my home state and these students are not only disrespecting the Jewish and Black people in the state of Alabama but throughout the US and possibly even in the world. I am hurt by this instance but I am not ready to forgive these students just yet.

After the video was leaked online some of the students sent messages to the person who uploaded the video apologizing. That I took as a mature gesture until I read the apology from the girl in the video. The apology asked if the user could remove the video because it would ruin her life and reputation. It was later found out that the female student is the daughter of the manager of the Toyota dealership in Hoover after the manager posted an apology.

Any remorse I had going for these students was now gone.

They were not sorry. They were sorry that they got caught and were facing consequences. They gave the apology that your parents made you say when you did not want to apologize. They did not care about who they had harmed or what they had said, they cared because they had to face consequences and they know that this mistake would follow them for the rest of their life.

I'm at a loss for words.

I don't know how to feel. I know someone will tell me I am overreacting but how am I supposed to approach this? What they said was wrong and there is no proper way to express frustration for it. I know people get offended by certain things but some things are not meant to be a joke. So I hope what you said was worth it and was fun to say because it will follow you for the rest of your life. Some lessons are best-learned overtime and it looks like you will have a chance to reflect on these events.

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