Mixed Chick: Learning To Love My Two Ethnicities

Mixed Chick: Learning To Love My Two Ethnicities

Many times the things that make you feel out of place turn out to be your greatest strength.

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"So what are you?" "Are you adopted?" "Why are your parents' different colors?" "Wow, you look so exotic!" "You're black but you don't even act black."

These stereotypical phrases are heard regularly to people of mixed race or ethnicity, including myself. While some questions allow me to proudly share my heritage, many of the other comments used to contribute to feelings of confusion, misplacement, while forcing me to justify the way that I am to others. This is my story about how I was able to overcome these insecurities about my background while growing up in a predominantly white community.

Ever since I can remember, I was aware of my different ethnicities. My father, a strong African American man and my mother, a graceful Filipino woman, both gave me a good sense of who I am and where I come from. There were times when I was younger, I recall asking my mother shyly, "Why is my skin darker than yours?" To this, she would simply answer, "Because that is the way that God made you." My parents emphasized how my facial features and my eye color were the same as theirs, just like other families. These answers gave me clarity, confidence, and comfort. However, this did not last for long.

In elementary school, we had annual standardized testing and that came with filling out questions pertaining to one's grade, age, and ethnicity. There were five boxes that I could choose from: White, Black, Asian, Hispanic, or Other. I had never felt so conflicted about my ethnic background in my life. I was unsure if I should pick Black or Asian because I felt that choosing one would negate my other half. After going back and forth, I looked up from my paper and realized that all of my white classmates finished and were waiting for me to move to the next question. Finally, in a rush of embarrassment, I chose Black. I did not choose this because I rejected my Filipino side but because I felt pressured to fit in one box. This moment snapped me out of my color-blindness and forced me to face the fact that I was different from all of my white peers. Soon I began to hear jokes about my biracial heritage from my classmates that I had not noticed before.

My classmates' micro-aggressions slowly chipped away the confidence that my parents instilled in me.

One day I bought a hair straightener and started to dress like my white friends so I could attempt to look similar to them despite my dark complexion and my stubborn, frizzy hair. This behavior continued for a couple of years until I reached eleventh grade. Finally, I had matured and had dialogues with my parents about my rich ethnicity and how this was one of my greatest strengths. Not only did I belong to one culture, but two. I threw out my straightener, embraced my wavy hair, and began to accept both of my ethnicities as something I should be proud of. I corrected people when they called me Black by adding that I was Filipino and I was excited when they complimented my skin and hair. I no longer allowed those tiny standardized test boxes or my peers' comments to confuse my identity or dictate my level of self-confidence.

My experience as a person of mixed-race has been nothing but a blessing to me even though I may not have recognized it all the time. My hope is that every mixed person is able to find their identity on their own without feeling the pressure to conform -- while celebrating every part that makes them unique. All in all, I love being Black and Filipino and I would not want it any other way!

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Just Because I'm From Hawaii, Does Not Mean I'm Hawaiian

My residency is not my race.
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Let me start off with a few things about myself. I am a first generation American who is primarily Filipino, Spanish and Hungarian. With that said, I am a woman of color, who frankly, looks all white. I was born and raised on the North Shore of O'ahu, but currently live in the mainland.

Now, let me tell you a little bit about Hawai'i, because I'm sure you don't know much about it since it's only given like, a paragraph of recognition in our history books. The Ancient Hawaiians traveled by canoe for thousands of miles using only the stars to navigate and found themselves in the Hawaiian Islands. They settled and their culture spread throughout the mountains and shores.
In 1778, Captain Cook "discovered" the islands, despite the thriving population residing there (he can be compared to Christopher Columbus). In the 1830s, the Sugar Industry was introduced, bringing a diverse range of immigrants from China, the Philippines, Japan and many other countries to work on the plantations, creating the diverse and ethnic population that makes up the islands today. In the 1890s, Queen Lili'uokalani (lily-oo-oh-kah-lah-nee) was imprisoned in an upstairs bedroom of her palace and soon after, the monarchy was overthrown. Hawai'i became a state in the 1950s.

With all of that said, we can now discuss an issue that I have realized needs to be addressed.

Since I moved to the mainland, I have had many encounters where people assure me that I am Hawaiian, despite my rebuttals that I am definitely not. The conversation usually goes something like this:

Them: "So you're from Hawaii, are you Native Hawaiian?"

Me: "Oh no, I'm Filipino, Hungarian and Spanish."

Them: "No, I mean, were you born and raised there?"

Me: "Yeah, but I'm not Hawaiian."

Them: "Yeah you are. It's the same thing."

No, it is most definitely not the same thing. If you were in Japan and saw a white person or any person not of Japanese descent, would you ask if they were Japanese simply because they lived there?
No, you wouldn't because you should know that residency does not equate descent. Sure, you might be curious and ask, but if they told you they weren't Japanese, you wouldn't try to convince them that they are. As I mentioned, Hawaii's population is made up of a ton of immigrants, and just because someone's family may have been there for generations, they are still not Hawaiian unless they actually have Hawaiian blood.

Not only do people assume that I am Hawaiian simply because I am from there, but they will continuously say that I look Hawaiian even if they have no idea what someone of Hawaiian descent looks like. Hawaiians are people of color, as are many of those who reside in the islands. However, as I previously mentioned, I do not look like a person of color even though I am, so why would you associate me, a seemingly full white person, to be Hawaiian? It makes no sense.

There are many things wrong with choosing to misidentify an individual or a group of people.
One, is that by you convincing yourself that I am something that I am not, you are diminishing who I am, and how I identify myself.
Second, you are creating an illusion based upon your own desires of who Hawaiians as a people are.
Third, by using me specifically, you are whitewashing the image of an entire race. I could go on, but there is not enough time in the world to name them all.




Their culture has been reduced to leis, aloha shirts, surfing, and tiki torches. Aloha has become a household word used by people who have no understanding of what Aloha truly means. Girls go as hula dancers in an effort to show skin on Halloween without any second thought. Please stop. We cannot continue to misidentify, appropriate and basically erase Hawaiian culture, just as has been done to the Native Americans.

Hawaiians have already been stripped of their land. I will not allow them to be stripped of their identity as well.

Cover Image Credit: TourMaui

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Being 'Petty' Does Not Make You A Stronger Person

Just because you don't like someone, does not mean that they don't deserve basic respect.

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To be quite honest, I'm done with people using the term "petty" to excuse being blatantly rude. Everyone is entitled to a bad moment, but no one is entitled to being rude. Some people will make the excuse, "I'm naturally petty." To me, that translates to, "I think I'm funny and I really just want to be acknowledged."

In recent years the media has glamorized "being a savage" or being "petty." Newsflash: writing rude things on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat does not make you a bold person. Treating people like they are beneath you does not make you more appealing to others.

As a society, we are poor communicators. Despite being in constant contact with each other, we don't know how to speak to each other. We are willing to indirectly post about people on social media, but at the same time try to avoid people we have a conflict with in person.

People also view silence as being petty, and it absolutely is. Ignoring someone is one of the cruelest things you can do, but doing it doesn't make you any stronger. You're allowed to dislike people, to argue with them, and have your own opinions of them, but you should at least acknowledge them. Just because you don't like someone does not mean that they don't deserve basic respect.

"Petty" translates to attention seeking, in my opinion. From my experience, people only act blatantly rude to another person if they think they have an audience. This holds true for social media as well, very few people can say something to another person without screen-shotting it and sending it to their friends. It is as if no one can speak out without having the approval of their friends, which is pathetic.

People are annoying by nature and that isn't a foreign concept. It's easy to get frustrated, it's easy to go off on someone, and it's even easier to be rude. What should be easy, but apparently isn't, is treating people with respect. You don't have to run to your group chat and brag every time you say something that you deem to be "petty". You're not a "savage" for making someone feel inferior; you're immature.

Before you confront someone ask yourself, "Is this constructive, and will it solve the problem?" Work towards solutions, not problems. Learn to look at people with a fresh pair of eyes, instead of harboring resentment and looking for fights to pick. As I said, it's easy to be mean these days, so being "petty" does not make you an individual, being mature does.

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