Were any other mamas robbed of part of their culture? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 01:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm sure my title makes no sense.

I am a mama who is either half AA or half Middle Eastern (my mother liked to party in her youth so my father could be one of many but because I have a tint to me it has to be one of 2 ). Neither of my potential fathers really stuck around so I was raised by a typical white American family. I'm not-so-white. It's been interesting to say the least.

Anyway for a long time I didn't realize I wasn't white. Then I hated that I wasn't white. Now I just recognize I am what I am. Yet I feel so.. I dunno... left out? I get comments like "you sound really white" or "you're the whitest black girl/Mexican/*insert whatever the person is guessing I am here* I've ever met" etc. Yeah, I know it's totally rude of them and all that but I have to say it is pretty darn true. My culture is that of the typical white American family yet I don't belong there (as I am often reminded by not-so-nice people). There are things that I have been through and see that I know my white family and friends just aren't going to get (sorry if that is offensive. I hope it makes sense to someone). I don't know where I "belong" because I don't know who my father is and because there is no one to "show me the way".

That probably all sounded really whinny and ridiculous but it is something I have struggled with for a very long time and still do. I feel robbed and abandoned. I know I should just get over it but I have never been able to shake it.

Just wondering if I am alone....

ETA- I am really putting myself out there so please don't flame me.

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#2 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 01:48 AM
 
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My husband is completely not white. He is Asian and Hispanic, yet he had pretty much a white bread American upbringing. House in the burbs, little league, all that. I don't think it is a lack of "culture" so much as a lack of connection to your father and his people.

But, also having a tint doesn't mean much. I have a cousin who has two white parents and she has quite a tint. It is suspected that some creole is in her blood, but neither of her parents look dark at all and she is quite "olive" skinned.
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#3 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 06:52 AM
 
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<hug> I'm as white as they come.. I think a lot of cultures, even white skinned ones, are lost as people live an "american" lifestyle and do not look at their roots or traditions. I come from a very mixed background, and am lucky to have had at least a little of one of the cultures exposed to me, but it took a lot of effort as a teenager and an adult to learn more about it. It felt silly, because as I immersed myself in things I was surrounded by people who just grew up that way and it was natural for them, it was almost like I was a fake or a wannabe...because I didn't already know so many things. But you know, it is in my blood and I have a natural passion for it so I've been learning and enjoying what I can.

It might feel kind of weird, but also be a little healing if you learn some history and start exposing yourself to cultural aspects like dance and music. It must be really hard not to know where your roots lie - but maybe at first you can just kind of choose which one you're drawn more to? For example both African and Eastern cultures have specific music and dance, they do vary by region.... and if you start dabbling in either you might find that you are more drawn to one than the other. It leads to a snowball of learning that is really wonderful and you may find yourself with a group of people who have similar passions ... and feel like you belong.

But you're right. A lot of Americans who are not interested in their background would not understand the longing to experience where you've come from.
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#4 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 07:50 AM
 
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We've ALL been robbed of our culture to one degree or another in America. I don't want to minimize what you're going through. Not having your dad is a disconecting thing all on it's own.
Like PP said, imerse yourself in cultures that appeal to you. As Americans we have such a wide variety of music, art, food etc. available that most of us never think to wrap ourselves in. If we're going to see our way forward as a multicultural, non racist people, we've got to find our own culture.
I am so sorry you've been made to feel like an outsider. Skin color is such a stupid way to determine someone's race or "membership". People have mistaken my anglo/polish/quebecois DH fo everything from Mexican to Syrian to Filipino.

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#5 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 11:56 AM
 
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We've ALL been robbed of our culture to one degree or another in America. I don't want to minimize what you're going through. Not having your dad is a disconecting thing all on it's own.
Like PP said, imerse yourself in cultures that appeal to you. As Americans we have such a wide variety of music, art, food etc. available that most of us never think to wrap ourselves in. If we're going to see our way forward as a multicultural, non racist people, we've got to find our own culture.
I am so sorry you've been made to feel like an outsider. Skin color is such a stupid way to determine someone's race or "membership". People have mistaken my anglo/polish/quebecois DH fo everything from Mexican to Syrian to Filipino.
I agree with this. My parents immigrated from Taiwan. They wanted us to be Americanized, but then they were also upset when we were not Taiwanese enough. For me, my biggest regret is not learning Taiwanese and Mandarin. Part of the fault is my parents', they didn't teach me any English before I started school, so then of course when I did start school, everyone freaked out, me, the school and my parents and of course the reaction was, "She must learn English ASAP." Then my parents went the total opposite direction and only wanted me to speak English at home and that was kind of the end of any hope of being fluent in Mandarin (or Taiwanese). I do still understand a decent amt of it, but my speaking skills are really, really bad. My cousins in Taiwan say I have a bad American accent, lol.

Oh and I wanted to add that ITA that it is stupid for ppl to use someone's skin color to determine their race or, "membership." Particularly for ppl of Asian descent, there is always the perpetual foreigner belief. Ppl take one look at you and they think you are NOT American, their first thought it that you came to the US (in your lifetime, which I did not, I was born here). It is automatically assumed that I speak as Asian language and if I don't, then I get the, "How sad that you've lost your culture" guilt.
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#6 of 28 Old 12-23-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by magstphil View Post
Anyway for a long time I didn't realize I wasn't white. Then I hated that I wasn't white. Now I just recognize I am what I am. Yet I feel so.. I dunno... left out? I get comments like "you sound really white" or "you're the whitest black girl/Mexican/*insert whatever the person is guessing I am here* I've ever met" etc. Yeah, I know it's totally rude of them and all that but I have to say it is pretty darn true. My culture is that of the typical white American family yet I don't belong there (as I am often reminded by not-so-nice people). There are things that I have been through and see that I know my white family and friends just aren't going to get (sorry if that is offensive. I hope it makes sense to someone). I don't know where I "belong" because I don't know who my father is and because there is no one to "show me the way".
I just want to say that I'm sorry people say insensitive and hurtful things to you like that. I hope you can find a sense of belonging with the people who love you and care about you regardless of your tint, behavior, or anything else.
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#7 of 28 Old 12-24-2008, 06:24 PM
 
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Oh mami.

I'm so sorry. This must be so hard. I'm all honky, but my son is half-Peruvian/Argentinian, and I live to protect him from this type of fate...this not knowing half of who you are. My ex and me are HUGE about keeping him immersed in the culture that makes up half of him...in fact we'd like it to make up most of him...so many beautiful things about Latin culture that I/we like better than white/American culture.

This sounds so painful. And a hearty bleep to anyone who would give you a hard time about it. That is beyond not cool. Totally cruel and unfair. Racist. Ugly. Awful in every way.

No advice mami. Just hugs and a lot of love...from the mother of a mixed child/family who would NEVER judge you for feeling this, who could never find it wrong or bad in any way, and thinks that anyone who does is a total BLEEP.

Much love, hugs, and support mami.



CJ.
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#8 of 28 Old 12-24-2008, 10:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mags View Post
Oh and I wanted to add that ITA that it is stupid for ppl to use someone's skin color to determine their race or, "membership." Particularly for ppl of Asian descent, there is always the perpetual foreigner belief. Ppl take one look at you and they think you are NOT American, their first thought it that you came to the US (in your lifetime, which I did not, I was born here). It is automatically assumed that I speak as Asian language and if I don't, then I get the, "How sad that you've lost your culture" guilt.
This happens to Hispanics too. We're not always automatically accepted as American.

Years ago on Election day, I moved and had to request
a paper ballot. Although I spoke in English, I was asked if I wanted it in Spanish by a noseybody neighbor who had already been snooping around asking questions about us. LOL
Uhhh.... although I am Hispanic (American born and bred), my maiden last name is actually Arabic, so I wanted to say I'd like the ballot in Arabic (although I don't speak a lick of it ) just to throw the lady off.

Well, I actually didn't get the chance to because..... another elderly volunteer got close to giving the 1st lady a backhanded 3 Stooges' maneuver (gnuck, gnuck, gnuck) while telling her "Didn't you hear her speak in plain English?"
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#9 of 28 Old 12-25-2008, 03:14 AM
 
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I can relate to that one. I just recently found out that my father's family has been passing for white since 1908. Who knew, but that explains a lot.

I was told they were French, and here I find out that they're Creole and free people of colour, and they were originally (if there is such a thing) from the Caribbean. It turns out no immediate ancestors were French; if they're "mostly" anything, it's West African.

So yeah, besides the culture I never knew about, I've got a lot of near cousins I never knew about. Although they knew about us, from what they've been telling me, they weren't allowed to contact us since we were on the "other side" of the colour line.

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#10 of 28 Old 12-25-2008, 11:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by LoMaH View Post
This happens to Hispanics too. We're not always automatically accepted as American.

Years ago on Election day, I moved and had to request
a paper ballot. Although I spoke in English, I was asked if I wanted it in Spanish by a noseybody neighbor who had already been snooping around asking questions about us. LOL
Uhhh.... although I am Hispanic (American born and bred), my maiden last name is actually Arabic, so I wanted to say I'd like the ballot in Arabic (although I don't speak a lick of it ) just to throw the lady off.

Well, I actually didn't get the chance to because..... another elderly volunteer got close to giving the 1st lady a backhanded 3 Stooges' maneuver (gnuck, gnuck, gnuck) while telling her "Didn't you hear her speak in plain English?"
Oh yeah, ITA, Latinos get the same treatment. The other day I saw some UAV driving around with a bumper sticker that said, "Stop the Invasion" and then it said something about border patrol or something. I am not sure, but basically it was just a very xenophobic/racist bumper sticker. I was in the next lane over just glaring at the driver, some older woman with her elderly mother in the passenger seat. Ppl that, "look" totally harmless, but obviously harbor and breed the hate.

I'm glad that other volunteer said something and stuck up for you. I think a lot of times, when other ppl that speak up, the offender seems to, "get it" more than if the person they offended says something. I mean, the times I have said things back to ppl who said rude/racist things to me, the jerk who pissed me off to begin with would say something like, "Don't be so sensistive/can't you take a joke" or they would just act like *I* totally offended THEM (yeah, the nerve!)! Never a, "sorry, I didn't know what I said was offensive" or anything like that.
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#11 of 28 Old 12-25-2008, 05:02 PM
 
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One part of my DH's family SWEAR there's no Indian in the family, only French(from Quebec), evwen though one of the cousins traced the family back to an Algonquin woman who married a French furtrapper. And look at them!They're clearly "mixed" with something

My own great grandma "passed" as white, because she was raised by her white grandparents after her Indian(unknown tribe) mother died in childbirth.

The racism of others has been so bad to cause such self hatred and denial for so many people. And we're left feeling like somethings missing, but never know what.

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#12 of 28 Old 12-26-2008, 12:32 AM
 
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This may be way out of the budget, but maybe it would be a nice gift to yourself to one day have genetic testing done to determine your most likely heritage. I believe that they can do a cheek swab and give you a general idea of where your ancestors originated from. I saw it on 60 minutes at some point !

If you knew more about your ancestry, maybe you could immerse yourself in some of that culture and regain some of your cultural identity.
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#13 of 28 Old 12-26-2008, 05:19 AM
 
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I'm glad that other volunteer said something and stuck up for you. I think a lot of times, when other ppl that speak up, the offender seems to, "get it" more than if the person they offended says something. I mean, the times I have said things back to ppl who said rude/racist things to me, the jerk who pissed me off to begin with would say something like, "Don't be so sensistive/can't you take a joke" or they would just act like *I* totally offended THEM (yeah, the nerve!)! Never a, "sorry, I didn't know what I said was offensive" or anything like that.
I try to laugh most comments off.
In the "rude" lady's defense, I don't think she was intentionally being mean. She was just ignorant and wanted to confirm if I spoke Spanish since she was sooo nosey. I also don't think the other lady was coming to my defense but was exercizing her die hard belief to have everyone speak "English only" on American soil.
Ah, it's all good. Why let other people's issues become yours? Like I said, most times I try not to take it all too seriously.

*I* prefer to bluntly hear the comments than to have people pretend in front of me that they don't have these beliefs. It's been my experience that eventually people turn around when given the chance to develop a relationship with members from the groups they have prejudices against. There are those truly racist people who are filled with hate, but I think most people are simply ignorant and more fearful than mean.
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#14 of 28 Old 12-26-2008, 07:24 AM
 
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This may be way out of the budget, but maybe it would be a nice gift to yourself to one day have genetic testing done to determine your most likely heritage. I believe that they can do a cheek swab and give you a general idea of where your ancestors originated from. I saw it on 60 minutes at some point !

If you knew more about your ancestry, maybe you could immerse yourself in some of that culture and regain some of your cultural identity.
Look at the Nat. Geographic website. The price has really come down the last couple of years.

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#15 of 28 Old 12-26-2008, 12:06 PM
 
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Look at the Nat. Geographic website. The price has really come down the last couple of years.
I looked at their website: https://genographic.nationalgeograph...rticipate.html and it turns out that they can only trace your paternal lineage if you carry a y chromosome (e.g. -- you're male). Darn! I'm not that knowledgable about genetics, but I wonder if there would be any other way to ascertain your dad's race/ethnicity .
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#16 of 28 Old 12-26-2008, 02:27 PM
 
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Sigh. Patriarchy strikes again. Only important for men to know their racial/ethnic/cultural heritage. The little women don't care.

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#17 of 28 Old 12-27-2008, 12:16 AM
 
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Sigh. Patriarchy strikes again. Only important for men to know their racial/ethnic/cultural heritage. The little women don't care.

You can trace your maternal lineage with mitochondrial DNA.

You can find out about your father's family by checking your brothers, your father's brothers, his father's father's brothers, etc since they all (should) have the same Y chromosome. Just find someone in the right line of descent and go with it.

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#18 of 28 Old 12-27-2008, 01:06 AM
 
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Yeah, I don't think that it is a case of misogynism, just science . None the less, it doesn't sound like the OP has a brother or other male relative to send off for testing. Any possibility of contacting the potential dads at this late date and asking if they'd be willing to get tested to see if they are your father? There wouldn't be any financial repercussions for them (child support) now that you are an adult and it would be good to know if only for knowledge about your family health history, etc.

I did check out your blog (cute kiddos, btw!), and I'm going with AA just from how you look! I know that one of my friends from grad school had an adopted dd who was often mistaken for middle eastern, east Indian, etc. and she was half white, half African-american. Not that my opinion says anything about reality !
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#19 of 28 Old 12-27-2008, 04:23 AM
 
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Nat Geo's testing is cheap b/c it isn't very in depth, there is a company (23 and me) that does a much more extensive test, but it is much more expensive. I'm not sure it's extensive enough to tell you exactly what you want to know.

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#20 of 28 Old 12-27-2008, 01:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Look at the Nat. Geographic website. The price has really come down the last couple of years.
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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#21 of 28 Old 01-05-2009, 12:56 AM
 
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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.
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#22 of 28 Old 01-05-2009, 01:48 AM
 
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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!
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#23 of 28 Old 01-07-2009, 02:10 PM
 
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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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#24 of 28 Old 01-07-2009, 04:03 PM
 
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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.

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#25 of 28 Old 01-07-2009, 05:27 PM
 
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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.

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


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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.

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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.
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#26 of 28 Old 01-08-2009, 03:56 AM
 
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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

"Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free, 'tis the gift to come down where you ought to be."
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#27 of 28 Old 01-09-2009, 09:50 AM
 
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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.

-- Miss 1928 -- and Opera Singing Mamma to Eloisa -- 12 Feb 2007
-- Wife to a Wonderful Husband and Pianist -- 27 March 2003
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#28 of 28 Old 01-09-2009, 12:01 PM
 
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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")

Mi vida loca: full-time WOHM, frugalista, foodie wannabe, 10+ years of TCOYF 

 

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