Learning To Love Myself

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.

414
views

"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!

Popular Right Now

12 Signs You're From Jackman Maine

You know you're from Jackman just by these few things.
906
views

1. You never lock the doors

The entire parking lot at the store is filled with running cars, all of them with the keys still in the ignition. All are so easy to steal and yet no one touches them.

2. You almost never miss a sports game

Whether you are a sports fan or not, you almost never miss a game. Either you go to watch a friend play or to hang out, there are very few games that you have missed.

3. The cold doesn't bother you

I can't tell you how many times I've gone out in 20 degree weather in a t-shirt to do chores, or have shoveled off the deck in bare feet. Almost rarely the cold seems to be a bother.

4. You own either a snowmobile or ATV

Because what else is there to do in town? Seriously?

5. You've walked down the street all night

And you know that after 5, the road is silent. Unless it's on the weekends when everyone from Quebec is driving through.

6. You go to Old Mill and not the Town Park

Let the tourists go to the park and enjoy it, we'll just enjoy our sandy little b each.

7. You LOVE going to Slidedown

If you don't love the falls, are you even from around here? How can you not love going to Slidedown?

8. The tourists are hilarious

Now we won't say that to any of them because Jackman is a tourist town and needs to have the tourism, but some of the things that people say or do are laugh worthy.

9. Everyone has seen a moose in their backyard

And I mean everyone. I've seen one walk around in the Post Office parking lot, if they're wandering around there, they will be everywhere.

10. Hunting is a way of life

So is fishing. I don't think I know anyone in town who doesn't hunt or fish.

11. Everyone is shocked at your graduating class number

Every time I tell people I graduated in a class of 11, people stare at me like I just grew horns out of my head.

12. You know everyone

Self-explanatory.

Cover Image Credit: Bill Jarvis

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Everyone Should Care About Latinx Issues, Regardless Of Their Own Identities

It's important no matter who you are or where you come from.

122
views

Disclaimer: As someone who is white, I am speaking on a culture that is not my own and which I am not an authority on. Please remember this and do your own research. Reach out to those who do identify as Latinx but as always, respect that it is not the job of any minority population to field all questions and educate.

People often say that no matter how old you get or how much you think you know, you never stop learning. I've always found this to be true but recently I was reminded of just how true it really is. On March 27, Bowling Green State University held their 24th annual Latino/A/X issues conference. I had heard about the conference in passing much earlier in the month and it piqued my interest but admittedly slipped my mind pretty quickly after hearing about it. It wasn't until a friend of mine had informed me that she and another one of our friends were receiving awards at the conference that I finally put it on my calendar.

As I looked through the program at all of the different events scheduled for the day, the first to catch my eye was a theatrical performance called Spanish Ohio: Reflections on loss, gain acceptance and belonging moderated by a Bowling Green professor and friend, Emily Aguliar. I can confidently say that I have not, in a long time felt so confused and lost in a theatrical setting in a long time. The performance was presented in about 90% Spanish and 10% English and having little more than a basic understanding of Spanish from my high school days, I was able to understand a few key words or phrases here and there but more I just found myself intrigued by what I didn't understand...which was a lot. At the end of the performance, there was a sort of Q&A; where we as the audience could ask questions to the performers. During which time an audience member made a comment that really opened my mind.

She had said that it was important for people outside of the Latinx community to be lost in that moment. That the not understanding was what so many people whose first language isn't English feel all the time.

This statement really hit me hard and stuck with me. Even though I was at a performance at my college where I knew that I was safe, secure and taken care of, not knowing what was going on around me was overwhelming and a little unsettling. Not because I fear the existence of languages other than English, but because I felt as if I was expected to understand and take away things that I simply couldn't. And the fact that people move about in the world feeling like this every day in a society where they are not looked after or cared for was a painful but oh so necessary realization.

People are being forced to exist in a place that doesn't make it easy for them to do so. All too often the one piece of 'advice' given to those who speak any language other than English is simply to 'Just speak English' as if it is more important for the majority to feel comfortable and unthreatened by the existence of a language outside of our own than it is to respect the culture, language, and diversity of the Latinx community.

This conference really opened my eyes to the struggles of the Latinx community but at the same time, it highlighted and celebrated the achievements as well. I was lucky enough to be able to see two women who are very important to me receive awards for the work that they've done in and around the community. Both of these women are beyond deserving of the accolades they received. They are passionate, strong, opinionated women with knowledge and heart and I was thankful to be there to witness both of them receiving the recognition that they so deserve. It is SO important to recognize the contributions of people who have been pushed to the sort of outskirts of the conversation so to speak and I can say that it was very moving for me to see my friends as well as the others at the conference reveling in their identities and their cultures.

This is how it should be at all times, not just at a conference.

People should feel comfortable in their identities and people who are in positions of privilege should be using their voices to amplify the marginalized. I am so very thankful to have been able to attend this event and learn and grow in my understanding of culture, identity, and people. So, thank you to BGSU and LSU for putting in the work to make this possible for everyone, and to Emily and Camila-I'm proud of you both! Amplify the marginalized and underrepresented and never stop learning everything you can.

Related Content

Facebook Comments