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Were any other mamas robbed of part of their culture? - Page 2

post #21 of 28
I can relate to some of what you are feeling. I am half Filipino but I know close to nothing about my heritage, ancestors, etc. I met my bio-dad when I was born, then when I was 1-year-old, and then recently at age 25. I wish I knew more. Maybe with time I will.

We live in Wisconsin now, but when we lived in Dallas, TX I used to have people talk to me in Spanish. I took 1 high school Spanish class ... so you can imagine the only thing I could say was: No espanol! I got some nasty looks! When I'm up here, people just love to ask where I come from ... so I say I was born in MN. Then I do tell them that my bio-dad is Filipino, so they start talking about a Filipino person they know, or some Filipino meal that they love, and by the way, do I know how to cook that?!

I thought I was white until elementary-aged children had to point out that I was different, so no ... I don't know how to cook any Filipino dishes.

Anyway, yes, I do feel robbed in a way. I visited my bio-dad last year and met my half brother and sister, too. I felt like I didn't belong in their world OR the world that I had always known. It shouldn't have to feel that way ... but it does sometimes.
post #22 of 28
my husband is mostly of mexican and native american descent but wasn't really spoken to in spanish growing up and didn't get passed very much of either culture.... people are definitely disappointed/ disapproving when they find out he doesn't speak spanish and it's a bit uncomfortable for him when people assume he speaks spanish and he kind of fakes it a bit.... so we're making some effort to give our kids more spanish, and culture too, but it's kind of hard when my dh doesn't have that much himself and is kind of shy about exploring more. i'm more motivated but partly feel it should come from him (which i think i may have to get over).
anyhow, op, your situation sounds really frustrating. i guess if there isn't a way to do further research on who/what your bio-dad is/was (which does seem like it could be a really nice thing for you if it is possible), then you could do like some of the pp's said and just explore what feels resonant for you. you could totally invent yourself, in a way.... delve into the mystery of it.... find the parts of your identity you *are* certain about (philosophical, dancing, cooking, etc) ? ? anyhow, not trying to minimize the hard part of it, just always trying to find some silver linings.... hugs!
post #23 of 28
Magstphil,
I am totally appalled that you are treated this way!
I am so sorry!
It is terrible that people are so racist where you are.

I do think dna testing is more accurate now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
Sadly I have been told that they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between African decent and Middle Eastern. However this was about 10 years ago so God only knows how much has changed.

Funny the convo has gone to Hispanics/color of your skin. Living in the area I do most people (think 98%) think I am Hispanic. This has posed a lot of problems for me in life on different sides. On one side I am treated like crap- a second rate American. When I worked at Wal*Mart I would often get rude people coming up to me saying something like "You speak English, right?" in such an abrasive way. Kind of going OT here from my original point but the really sad thing is when I respond "It's the only language I speak" I'd either get "good for you!"s (which very much piss me off as if English is the only 'real' language in the world ) or the convo would go into how I am not Hispanic at all (as once you say you don't speak Spanish people are shocked and want to know why) and once they find out I'm not Hispanic they somehow turn that into me being just as bigoted as they are and they start to go off about "those Mexicans" and such. Anywho so I get those sorts of Questions and remarks and then a lot of times I get talked over as if I'm not even there. Like I said I come from a white family and you would not believe how many times we have gone out to eat and everyone's order has been taken and then the waitress walks away without taking mine at all. At first we thought it was funny and then my cousins started to get really POed about it because it'd happen so often.
The second problem that has arisen from it is Hispanics who get very upset with me for not speaking their language because they so believe I am Hispanic. I have been ripped up one side and down the other for ignoring my heritage and have been told I (for being me) is offensive and when I say I am not Hispanic sometimes I am believed but you would not believe how many people think I am lying!!! It's very frustrating because I don't want to upset people and I really do just want to be left alone. If I don't have to play "Guess Maggie's ethnicity" with another complete stranger again I will be so happy.
I do have to admit though that I do lie sometimes. There was this guy who came up to me once while I was stocking eggs and asked about the eggs and then started questioning what ethnicity I was. He really gave me the creeps. People have questioned me before and I have just gone with it but this guy, you could just tell he was a total creep. There was no way I was going to tell him I could be half AA or ME. So when he asked if I was NA I said I was. He seemed satisfied and just walked away without another word. So I can't say I am completely innocent because sometimes I don't want people to know what I might be because they are just absolute creeps/bigots.

My gosh I am being so whinny! I guess it just feels so good to be able to talk to people who might get it.

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post #24 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
The second problem that has arisen from it is Hispanics who get very upset with me for not speaking their language because they so believe I am Hispanic. I have been ripped up one side and down the other for ignoring my heritage and have been told I (for being me) is offensive and when I say I am not Hispanic sometimes
I get this all the time! I grew up in Southern California, and got it more there. I worked in Pomona (predominately Hispanic) and at least weekly an elderly person would accuse me of losing/denying/lying about my heritage. I get there are people who do this, who "pass," it happens in every culture I suspect. I am not one of those people though, so to be accused of it constantly is annoying. I get a fair bit of confusion here in SF, but much less accusations.

For me it sort of works in reverse. I didn't "miss out" on either side of my heritage (unless you count the complete stripping of my family's African ancestry during slavery). However, people seem to find it very difficult to accept you as having more than one race. I am half Black and half White. While many people are confused about what I may be when they meet me (I've gotten the whole gambit), once they know I am half AA...then I am ALL AA. Make sense? If I try to acknowledge my Irish/German ancestry...I'm trying to "pass" or "be white." WTF? Like for instance, everyone is so excited about the fact that a Black man has been elected president...well, not really, a bi-racial man was elected president. Why you cannot be one without denying the other is beyond me. But that is what happens on a pretty regular basis. I'm sort of not allowed to take part in one part of my heritage, even though I know it well.

As for the AA vs ME question, funnily enough, my younger brother gets people thinking he is ME all the time. I get it sometimes, but due to my name I get LA more. Further proof, that it's hard to guess genetics from outward appearance.
post #25 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by kaleidoscopeeyes View Post
I get this all the time! I grew up in Southern California, and got it more there. I worked in Pomona (predominately Hispanic) and at least weekly an elderly person would accuse me of losing/denying/lying about my heritage. I get there are people who do this, who "pass," it happens in every culture I suspect. I am not one of those people though, so to be accused of it constantly is annoying. I get a fair bit of confusion here in SF, but much less accusations.
Ugh, I'm so sorry you all have to deal with that nonsense.
I'll admit, I'm surprised that you get that in CA. I don't think (at least it's been my experience) that you would get that treatment as often in say, NYC- where MANY- even 1st generation Americans (Euro-, Asian-, Hispanic-, etc.), don't speak their parents' native tongue. People may ask, but most times- if you don't speak the language- they just accept it and move on.

Quote:
people seem to find it very difficult to accept you as having more than one race.


Quote:
I am half Black and half White. While many people are confused about what I may be when they meet me (I've gotten the whole gambit), once they know I am half AA...then I am ALL AA. Make sense? If I try to acknowledge my Irish/German ancestry...I'm trying to "pass" or "be white." WTF?
Yep. You're trying to "pass" for being something that you ARE...... makes a lot of sense, right?
If you have that ancestry and you identify with that ancestry- then, to me, you are.
If you don't identify with that ancestry- that's your prerogative.
Why do people act as if they have a personal investment in what others identify themselves as? That's the part that I don't understand.
Then, they want to argue with you.

Quote:
Like for instance, everyone is so excited about the fact that a Black man has been elected president...well, not really, a bi-racial man was elected president.
It's true that he's being called the 1st African-American President.... but I'm glad that people are also accepting all of his other ancestral makeup.
Except, I know, this is only because he's in the spotlight.. and the rest of us who aren't- won't be given that same option for a long time to come.
post #26 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by LoMaH View Post

It's true that he's being called the 1st African-American President.... but I'm glad that people are also accepting all of his other ancestral makeup.
Except, I know, this is only because he's in the spotlight.. and the rest of us who aren't- won't be given that same option for a long time to come.
See, I kind of feel like they aren't accepting all of it. Like they talk about his mom, and acknowledged his grandmother when she passed etc. But I feel like no one has made a stink because Obama himself has never really argued against being called AA. Remember when Tiger Woods came out in the press about how he didn't want to be known as a Black golfer, that he was multi-ethnic (I forgot the exact term he came up with..cablanasian?) People had a fit! "Oh he just doesn't want to be Black! blah blah blah" I mean I don't blame Obama, I take much the same approach, it just isn't worth fighting about. I am Black. If you really need to fit me into that one box, fine, so be it. At the same time, I sometimes feel like I should stand up and say "Hey! I'm both! AT THE SAME TIME!"

And now I have gone way off topic...Sorry Maggie
post #27 of 28
I'm sorry, I haven't yet read all the replies. Not yet.

But here is my story.

I was adopted and so never knew where my face came from. I'm white, but have a slightly, but not obvious, asian look. My family is WASP but I used to get teased in grade school for being "Chinese". (Do you remember "Chinese Japanese, dirty knees, look at these!"?)

So, when I was 25 I found my birth-mother's family (birth-mother had died a few years previously. ) and they led me..... oh, this story is so long.... but to give the Cliff notes version; I found out that my birth-father is Japanise American.

So, to the being "robbed" part. Now whenever anyone askes what my background is I can respond; "I'm half Japanese, a quarter Hungarian and a quarter German." but here in Italy (moved here from California about 8 years ago) I have to then elucidate that I didn't grow up Japanese because I was adopted and because even though my birth-father Japanese he is American anyway so even if I had been raised by him I still woudn't speak Japanese because his family tried to slough off their Japanese-ness when they were put into the internment camps during WWII. Some Italians have a hard time understanding the concept of being American but also being Japanese (or AA or fill-in-the-blank.) because if you're Italian, you're Italian, and not African Italian or Chinese Italian or what have you. I suppose I can understand their confusion, but it is still frustrating to have to explain the whole darn story.

I wouldn't trade my childhood nor my parents for anything, but it would've been nice to have known that I'm Japanese, Hungarian, and German a lot sooner than 25. I feel like I could've had more time to embrace those cultures.
post #28 of 28
I hope it's ok for me to pipe in, but this has been a hot topic for years in my family... it revolves around making sure my child doesn't feel "robbed" of anything!

My cousin is genotypically half white/half black, phenotypically mixed/dark. We know almost nothing about her father's background, and her knowledge of her mother's family is also limited due to heartbreaking racism, so she was raised by her single mother and her non-racist 2nd cousins, etc. As a result, she identifies as Irish (which she would be, about 12%) and anything else is either unknown or actively denied, given her painful history. She has married a white, Italian boy and is raising her son as a white Irish/Italian.

I am a typical white, US mutt (Eastern European, Irish, Canadian, a bunch of other stuff) married to Venezuelan. I have basically become an honorary Latina, as we make sure to emphasize Venezuelan culture as we live in the US and DD already gets that influence. Still, my cousin vehemently disagrees with me, saying I should "be myself" and raise DD as a white girl, let HER decide how she wants to identify herself and not push anything else onto her. That I have a responsibility to teach her Ukranian, Irish, etc. traditions so that she knows her entire background, not just part of it, even if my experience in these traditions would be gleaned from the internet and not from family culture or traditions.

I'm so confused... I know her actions and advice are influenced by her feelings of being "robbed" as well as by the pain and rejection she felt from her family for half of who she is. I certainly don't want to pass on that pain or loss to my daughter, but I'm so confused on what to do and don't feel that she has the healthiest background to advise me on this. Thoughts??

ETA: I know that race and culture aren't the same thing, and that just adds more confusion to this topic, since I don't think that color defines background but several people here have discussed the difficulties in not knowing/acknowledging when skin tone and dominant culture don't "match")
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