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These are questions I struggle with often.

To understand who I am, I often point to my parents. Both have a history that I feel in my bones, a rhythm that echos in every cell in my body. These echos contradict themselves into a cacaphony of confused noise that leaves me unsettled and scattered. One minute I am Apalachian bluegrass the next my heart is pounding out a Punjabi Sikh Bhangra tune.

My mother's father is Native American. His last name is on the Cherokee register. He grew up on a reservation. I am told it is the only reservation left on the east coast. I did not know him. I see the photos of him, tall with black hair. Skin that looks like mine. he had the angles in his face that I see in my mother's brothers and my own brother. He was the black sheep of his family and a horrible alcoholic. My mother vowed to never subject her children to his disease. So I saw him 2 times in my life. He died of cirrohsis.

My mothers mother is of Irish decent. She has the frizzy reddish hair and her mother had flaming red hair and I am told a temper to match. I have her temper and I carry her name as my middle name. My maternal grandmother only has a few food dishes as her cultural heritage.

My mother is white but I see her father's bone structure in her.

My father is Sikh. From Punjab. I look like his mother. When I look in the mirror I often wonder if that is what Biji looked like when she was young. I have the light skin of Northern Indians. The light skin is preferable and the older Indian women make a big to-do over it. Then I open my mouth. I am not quiet like a good Indian girl should be.

When I look at myself, I see me. Who that is, I am not sure. I identify most with being Indian. My skin color and long black hair sets me apart from my white relatives. Culturally, I am not an Indian. I cook the food and understand the customs. I light my candles on Diwali and send my brother Rhakki every year. I do not hold fasts for my husband and I cut my hair. When I am with Indians I feel most alienated. I do not speak Punjabi and I find some of the cultural expectations to be ridiculous. When I was a child, my father told me I was bad and that was because I had white blood. I began to loathe other Indian children. They were what my father wanted, not me. I have come a long way with this. It has helped to know other Desi kids who are not perfect and do not sit at home at night studying math books.

Everyone in my daily life is white. My two children are white, my husband is Polish. I am used to being different. My skin color, outspokeness and refusal to dumb myself down to seem more like a good girl has always set me apart. I am who I am. I struggle with teaching them about thier heritage as I struggle with my own.

Other people usually assume I am Mexican. Perhaps it is the high cheekbones from my NA grandfather combined with the skin. I dunno. I absolutely refuse to check boxes for race.

I try to NEVER assume someones background by thier name or thier face. Who am I to know? I do not look like what I am. I hate those race questionairres with a passion. If someone asks, I usually will tell them earnestly that I am **** sapien. I am pretty certain that I am 100% human.
 
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