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This exercise is pretty scary for me. So I hope you'll have patience with what I have to say.

I'm going to answer with my best thoughts and realize that this answer changes frequently as time goes on and is an extremely simplified version of who I am. These really aren't directly race related, but I am sure that I have been shaped by race. I'm a mother, a wife, and a naturalist. I am very spiritual and find my comfort in nature. I am a very open person who tends to wear my heart on my sleeve. I have a temper that I have worked on controlling for my whole life. I love to laugh and to make other people laugh. I also use that to cover up insecurities. Okay, so that's the short list.

The racial terms used to describe me in the community would be caucasian and very Irish looking. I have auburn hair, pale skin with freckles and brown eyes. I am constantly told that I must have very strong Irish genes. I do have some, but what's interesting are the things that you would never be able to tell about my ancestry by looking at me.

My grandmother and her family were from Puerto Rico. So in reality, my racial ties to Ireland are a whole lot further back than my ties to Puerto Rico. But by looking at me, you'd never know that.

I never even knew that could be an issue until I was visiting my best friend's house in 6th grade. It turns out, it wasn't going to be the enjoyable dinner I was hoping for. Her father carried on and on about the "*****" at the lake near their house: the way they looked, the way they talked, how they were ruining the beach. It went on for about 20 minutes, the whole time my best friend trying to kick her dad under the table and the tears filling up my eyes. Finally, he turned to me and asked the same old question, "so you're ancestors must be from Ireland, right?" I answered some of them were, but that my grandmother was from Puerto Rico. The backtracking that took place was amazing, even to a 11 year old. He didn't mean me or my family, he just meant the "lower class."


I love the look on some people's faces when they hear that. Suddenly they look really carefully at me, as if they can see the underlying Puerto Rican side. Or the "wow, you don't look it or sound like it." One of my "friends" from college thought it was cute to call me the Mc'****. Adorable, huh?
: Just imagine the looks and comments when I tell them that my great grandfather was from Jamaica!
Sometimes I find the reactions amusing, kind of like a sick social experiment.

I've even gotten the comments from my great aunts, who are also from Puerto Rico, about how pale I am, how it doesn't look like me or my sisters could possibly be from their same blood lines. Like the way we look is bad, but on the other hand, I get told how lucky I am, because I don't have to deal with the prejudice about being Puerto Rican. I know that is true, but still, to have your own family make comments about not letting me out in the sun with my cousins because I might burst into flames can get old.

So usually when people ask me "what are you?" I just say I'm lots of things. If they want to dig deeper I tell them. I get pretty tired of the comments and the looks and then the dismissal, after all, I just look caucasian. People usually think of it as an amusing anecdote about me.

So do I use the same descriptions that everyone else would use to describe me? No. I don't really have a specific description for myself. When I fill out paperwork, I always put Caucasian, because there isn't a spot for mutt.
 
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