I am a mutt – biracial, mixed, a mudblood (Harry Potter fans represent), or simply put, a genetic masterpiece (#humble). By mixed, I mean my ethnicity is literally blended together like a smoothie, not just an Oreo cookie.
If anyone can believe it (and they never can), I am Trinidadian, Italian, Puerto Rican, Venezuelan, Spanish, English, Scottish, and always the kicker, Chinese. My mother was born in Trinidad, so she is really the bulk of why I am such a hodgepodge, and my father represents the Puerto Rican/Spanish/Italian side.
My skin is mocha, my sister’s is more of a chai, but unlike various Starbucks beverages, we have mostly been judged on our appearances rather than our flavors within.
Society has always wanted to place us in one group or another, with every standardized test I have ever taken asking about whether I am Hispanic, African American, Caucasian, Asian, Pacific Islander (I always wondered if they must have TRULY felt misunderstood), rather than simply accepting that we are a representation of diversity that the world only now seems to strive for.
You know what I checked off? Mostly Hispanic, sometimes Caucasian, sometimes African American, and one time, just to fight the system, Pacific Islander.
Mixed race never existed, and in today’s day and age, mixed race STILL rarely exists. (And I know this now because I take surveys as if it’s a second income. Don’t judge me.)
Growing up, I wanted to be solely white. My hair was too curly, my skin wasn’t light enough, I “acted white,” but I didn’t have the look of what I perceived around me. I was surrounded by a culture that was slyly telling a group of people that they weren’t good enough for who they were. I longed to accept my differences, but wanted to be a part of the bigger picture, as all human beings do. I was misunderstood, and didn’t understand where I was supposed to belong.
Yet I have noticed a shift in my life as a mixed race child, a shift that has honestly changed the way I am viewed. Perhaps it’s because I now live in Queens, the multicultural mecca of the world, or perhaps things are actually changing for the better. But regardless of the reason, as I have gotten older, I am “intriguing.” My hair is perceived as “cool.” More and more people now look at me and ask what I am with interest, rather than confusion or bewilderment.
Conversations are started with strangers based simply on how my sister and I look, and how cool it is that it could be possible.
People of mixed race are being portrayed more than ever on television and in the media. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, and hell, even the dreaded Kardashians (my references just went from bad to worse), are transforming a world that was once catering to two distinct demographics – black and white.
Society is now realizing that people of mixed race exist, and that we also need to be heard. I can now look in an American Girl doll catalog and find a doll that looks more like me than ever before! (Again, don’t judge me.)
It is within this shift that I hope we can come to a better understanding of others around us. In finally recognizing the growing demographic of mixed raced people, people like me can feel that their voice is being heard. They don’t have to be confused about where they stand. Diversity in society can finally be viewed as beneficial, rather than a hindrance to how a person lives their life.
Jobs, schools and neighborhoods actually STRIVE for a mix of people now, rather than keeping things homogenous. Children who are raised today feel like they can fall in love with Zayn (previously of One Direction) AND Drake (The bad references continue…).
I never belonged to a single group of people, and I never will, but now I finally realize that this is my strength.