When I say multi-racial, I mean multi-racial. Not one, not two, but three different cultures make up me.
Some take up more space in my little seventeen-year-old self than others, but hey, they are all equally dear to me, and over the years, I’ve learned not to be ashamed of being a melting pot of cultures. I feel sort of connected to each one.
But being multi-racial has had its ups and downs. It’s weird, it’s beautiful, it’s awkward at times, but I have found it to be fun, and in this little posty, I hope to share the cringes I’ve cringed, the things I’ve learned, and why I’ve grown to love being multi-racial.
What am I?
This is always the fun part. 😉
Please! Do try and guess first.
Here’s a picture of me (don’t look at the answers down below, okay?…no cheating!).
Did you make a guess?
Alright, here we go. You’ll either be shocked because of how far off you were (hee hee hee I do so love surprising people) or you’ll be secretly pleased at how close you were.
Here’s the specs:
- Mexican (50%…this one is my main queso. Ehehe…see what I did there? My Mexican origins go down to Michoacán and Guadalajara respectively, and my ancestors were the Aztecs. *draws poison dart from pocket* 😀 – I probably love the food on this side of me the most. Tamales, pozole, and sweet bread from the Panaderia for Christmas, baby.) 😉
- African (25%… As for my African origins, I know that my ancestors were most likely slaves who escaped slavery in the South to the North during the Civil War, which makes me really proud. As for what part of Africa they came from, I am sad to say I don’t know.)
- European (also 25%…and there’s like English, French, Irish, Spanish, a bit of Ashkenazi Jewish… a whole buncha other stuff all thrown in here, so please, do not ask me to specify 😀 )
You didn’t think I had ties to Montezuma’s peeps way back when, did ya? Nope. Not many people do. And that my ancestors sang hymns in the cotton fields of the South? Nope. Not many people know that either. Or that my European ancestors…did something? I honestly don’t know the specifics of my European ancestry. It’s complicated.
Did I getcha?
Either you had it or you didn’t. I’d love to hear reactions in the comments, to be honest.
When people ask me “So…what are you?”
I have gotten a lot of different nationalities from people who’ve tried to “guess” which I am, and it either made me laugh or shocked the pants off me. I’ve gotten Arabic, Indian, Brazilian, Puerto Rican, and one girl even thought that I was a Pacific Islander (that was definitely the most far-fetched and the most laughable).
But at the end of the day, sometimes I would feel so distraught and so unsettled about not being “one” something. I don’t look genuinely Mexican, genuinely African, and I (most certainly) do not look genuinely European (my skin color does me in there).
It’s funny and sometimes really strange when people just can’t tell, and then they proceed to ask me with an “I’ve just got to know” tagged on to the end of their question, as if they’ve been trying to work out a puzzle for a while.
And then whenever I finally tell them my racial makeup and I get a “no, you can’t be!” I kindly reply:
Not to say that I blame the poor souls: I don’t genuinely look like or have the characteristics of “one specific race,” and I wouldn’t expect them to know! It’s quite funny seeing people try and guess (I mostly enjoy watching them try to figure me out), but other times after it’s happened quite a lot, it feels…sort of…weird.
I’m not recognizable as a certain nationality, and I can’t identify with a group of people who share my ancestry. It’s maddening at times.
I wish that I could. Identify as one thing. It’s sometimes quite disheartening when I realize that I don’t fit in one specific “camp” of people. I’m not just Mexican. I’m not just African. I’m not just European. But that brings me to a caveat that makes me enjoy being multi-racial:
I belong to three cultures.
My previous statement was one that had caused me pain in the past. Knowing that “I’m not just Mexican. I’m not just African. I’m not just European” really made me wish that I could just belong in one of those camps and identify solely with that nationality.
But, I can’t.
Instead…I belong to all three.
I can’t identify with one solely (haha…if I tried to identify solely as European or African especially, people would seriously begin to doubt my sanity), but I can identify with them all on their own level.
I eat tamales, pozole, and have a huge interest in Aztecan culture and history (which I do not talk about enough on this blog – hang on while I make some notes). My maternal grandmother is my Abuelita, and whenever she washes my clothes they smell like her aromatic, spicy kitchen. There is nothing like sweet bread and Mexican hot chocolate (I will kill for these). Whether people see it or not, Mexico is apart of me (though this one is kinda hard to miss).
I have a seventeen-year-old African penpal in Ougadougou who writes me every few months or so, and she is such a beautiful sister in the Lord. Some of my favorite people to be with at my church are the African refugees. The Black Panther is still my second favorite Marvel movie (THIS COUNTS). Whether people see it or not, Africa is apart of me.
One of my best friends lives in Switzerland, and he’s arguably one of my favorite people on the planet (if you’re reading this, you know who you are). I have a strange obsession with German, and I’m the only minority at BSU’s German club. I watch way too much British telly and drink way too much tea. But that’s okay, because whether people see it or not, Europe is apart of me.
But this brings me to my final point:
I am a human.
I’ve come to see people as just that: people. Someone’s race isn’t who someone is. I would find myself always trying to figure people out – figure their races out, I mean. In the same way they tried to figure mine out.
But then I realized, after a while, that it didn’t matter what ethnicities someone had woven inside them. That was just a cool fact I could find out. That was just an interesting tidbit about someone.
No, people aren’t defined by their race (or races, in my case).
They are defined by their humanity.
There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Because that’s who we are to Jesus. His people. The people He loves, the people He made, the people He wants to turn from ashes to beauty.
With me, Jesus just got a little extra creative. He dipped his brush in a few bottles of paint and made something incredible. And that’s what I am: something incredible. Don’t feel jealous…
I’m a human: something incredible.
And that’s what you are.
We are all people. Created to bear God’s image and to love him. Should racial identity really matter in the grand scheme of things? I say no. It’s fun to think about, it’s proud to stand with a group of people of common ancestry upon this earth, and it’s exciting to hear about your family history. But at the end of the day, we are not defined by that.
We are defined by the love Christ has for us, and we are defined by the purpose He’s made us for. And he made me Mexican, he made me African, and he made me European. It’s not what I’m defined by, but it is apart of who I am. And I am proud of belonging to these three beautiful nationalities.
But going back to being proud of our origins: what part of the globe makes up who you are? Are you multi-racial too? Please, this could honestly be a fun discussion in the comments. I look forward to hearing where some of you all hail from! What makes up you?
And just so we’re clear on this: I’ll never get tired of hearing people try to guess my ethnicity. I’ll carry the stories of their guesses with me till my dying day.
Oh, and thank you for coming to my TedTalk.