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I am of the human race. Bureaucratically, I am of Latin origin. Culturally, I am a chameleon.

I am Puerto Rican, which essentially means that I am (almost) everything. On my mother's side you find the direct descendents of a Spanish land and slave owner who got too frisky with a slave (family legend says, "fell in love with"). The slave was a native Boriquen. On my father's side you find a Frenchman who was an admiral under Napoleon - and subsequently fled France when Napoleon was overthrown. He married a woman indigenous to what is Venezuela. They settled in Puerto Rico. On both sides, more Spanish conquerors mixing with indigenous islanders down the line, or keeping their blood "pure" and importing wives from Spain. (My paternal grandmother could trace her roots, ancestor by ancestor, directly to Spain. In her generation that was quite a distinction. She belonged to a club where this was a requirement for membership. Pride of heritage, or institutionalized racism - you decide.)

I grew up in the States where I was invariably "Hispanic." We split the year in Puerto Rico - 3 months in the summer and 1 in winter. In Puerto Rico I was always an "hincha gringa." Fitting in nowhere helps you to fit in everywhere.

When I look in the mirror I see the exotic results of scandals intermixed with prudence. I see a confident woman who loves her island, and loves her country. I see a consummate human being who knows that the only race is the human kind and loves to share cultural, historical, and traditional knowledge. I see an American, and a mommy.

I love all my cultures, and I love being able to cut and paste them together to form my life as I wish to experience it.
 
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