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"When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge?"

Unplucked eyebrows and two dark marks from fading zits. Dark circles under the eyes and hair falling out from a pregnancy. Do I look thirty? Are those prominent cheekbones or hollow cheeks? I don't see my big genetic marker features because I'm used to them.

"If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself?"

I use accurate descriptions. I am not keeping them up here, but I talk about my ancestors, wherever they were from. I do not use broad terms like "native" or "hispanic" or "white".

I was raised in the Pacific Northwest and I love our culture. I identify more with that culture than with any "color" group.

***

"When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience?"

In the US, people didn't know how to label me. People used to come up and ask me, "What are you?"

Abroad, I'm a foreigner.

"Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?"

No. There are differences because Americans stop listening after we get to the 1/16ths. They don't want a person or a history, I feel, they want a label. "A mutt," they usually interrupt. At best, "A very nice mix," they say.

I don't accept broad labels. The groups I belong to are too important to me to shove them into vague or historical boxes. Especially because I am not enough of anything to be considered one of them.
 
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