I Am A Mulatto Oreo

I Am A Mulatto Oreo

Navigating the world as someone whose interests are out of step with my peers has never been easy.

One day I found a $5 independent movie in a bin at Wal-Mart that changed me in a profound way.

It has everything I love — classical music, 16th-18th-century dress and style, outstanding performances, and a compellingly moving love story at its core.

'Belle' is a retelling of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsey, a Mulatto woman who finds her place and love in the world when she comes of age.

A great deal of Dido's life mirrors mine, and she finds the love I've always dreamed of finding.

I have always felt that I'm stuck between being Black and being White.

I was born to two Black parents. My upbringing was typical for someone who was lower middle class. My childhood homes were full of roaches and spiders and centipedes. An unattentive landlord. Street violence in the nights right outside my bedroom window every night. Raggedy clothes. Little food. Limited health and beauty supplies. Continous sexual harassment and assaults from boys and men much older than me. Physical and emotional abuse. Bullying. Depending on public transportation. Lack of parental involvement and attention due to providing my brother and me with some kind of roof over our head, clothing, and food. Raised in a time of people rampantly having children out of wedlock. Low-grade education.

Then, in the summer of 1990, I received the chance of a lifetime — to audition to enter Cleveland School of the Arts. There, I discovered my love of theatre and literature. But I wasn't drawn to the same aspects of the arts as the other Black students. I loved Shakespeare and Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Charlotte Bronte.

As a teenager, I watched shows like 90210, Melrose Place, and Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I loved New Kids on the Block, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, Jessica Simpson, Backstreet Boys, and NYSYNC. Then I moved on to loving Selena, Creed, Nickelback, Three Doors Down, The Goo Goo Dolls, Train, The Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Green Day, No Doubt, Marilyn Mason, and Korn. I even got into the Country Music explosion of the 90's and related to Faith Hill, The Dixie Chicks, Shania Twain, and LeAnn Rimes. I absolutely love classical music and going to plays, museums, and art galleries.

Maybe, in the end, I was drawn elsewhere because it was a different world from my own.

But still, I enjoyed by the R&B singers and Hip Hop/Rap artists of the early to mid 1990's. Salt N Pepa, TLC, Destiny's Child, SWV, En Vogue, MoKenStef, Boyz II Men, BabyFace, Queen Latifa, Aaliyah, Lil Kim, Notorious BIG, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog, Puff Daddy, LL Cool J, Brandy, Monica, and Brownstone. My mother always played The Jackson Five, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, The Supremes, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, and Luther Vandross music in the house when I was a child. I deeply related to movies made by the legendary Spike Lee, Waiting To Exhale, Set It Off, Boyz In The Hood, Juice, Poetic Justice, Menace II Society, and even cooky Black films like the House Party movies and Meteor Man. I loved shows like In Living Color, Living Single, 727, Amen, Good Times, The Cosby Show, A Different World, and Family Matters.

However, I was always seen as an Oreo — Black on the outside but White on the inside. I've never been able to escape this label. It feels like it's put on me as a curse in the Black community rather than all my interests be completely accepted as just who I naturally am.

Even when I went on to college, my interests segregated me from both my Black and White peers. Black students wondered why I occasionally took Black Studies courses and White students couldn't believe I loved English Literature so much to major in it. Instead of joining Sororities and Black Student Unions, I participate in Creative Writing Clubs and LGBT+ community activism clubs. I'm disconnected from everyone simply because of who I am and what I like.

I can't help what I like. I didn't choose to like Saved By The Bell and Martin. To love Charmed and Moesha. To love Clueless and Friday. To love Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes. To be fascinated by the French Revolution as well as the Harlem Renaissance.

My ultimate personal relationship goal is to achieve what Dido Lindsey did. She married a man who saw her for all that she was and loved her regardless. I want to find love(s) that respect where I've been. To support me where I'm going and to love me despite my faults, mistakes, and illnesses. I don't know if my future mates will be a White man and a Black woman, a Black man and a White woman, a White man and a White woman, a Black man and a Black woman, or a combination of the multitude of other races that live in this world, but to find true love without judgement is what I'll always seek.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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

My residency is not my race.

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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Believe It Or Not, Being The 'Model Minority' Is Not A Privilege

Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.


The topic of racism is one that is very much prevalent in the United States. However, in conversations about racism and marginalized groups, it seems that Asian-Americans are often excluded. The Asian-American experience is different from that of other minorities, with the model minority myth being a major contributing factor. While being viewed as a "model minority" may not seem like such a bad thing for Asians upon first glance, being a model minority does not equate to privilege.

There is a notion that Asian-Americans have suffered less from racism, and that they are privileged compared to other minorities. From elementary school, American students learn about Native American genocide and the history of racism against African Americans, but Asian-Americans rarely appear in any US history courses. They are not shown to have suffered a long history of systematic racism in the United States as other minorities have. Asian-American history is not something that is widely known or talked about, and for that, Asian-Americans are perceived as more privileged than other minorities.

Here's the issue: just because it isn't talked about, just because it isn't taught in school, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Discrimination against Asian-Americans is a part of American history, from the Chinese Exclusion Act, which was the first immigration law to target a specific ethnic group, in 1882, to the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s, to the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, in which the murderers served no jail time, to the issues of media representation that still exist now. This is a history that has seemingly been erased and brushed to the side so that Asians can be used as the model minority.

I'm not asking that everyone become an expert on Asian-American history. It's enough to know that it exists, and that Asian-Americans are still a racial minority in the United States and still suffer from racism. Instead of dismissing them as privileged, acknowledge that Asian-Americans have faced discrimination and include them in conversations about racism.

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