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

A young pale woman with no direction for the future and no real ties to the past. I'm blonde haired and blue eyed. I probably look just like an ordinary "American caucasian person" and normally don't merit a second glance. I guess I feel like that's what I am.

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

I'm white and blonde and blue-eyed, just like my siblings, just like my parents. My mom does genealogy, and both sides of my family came to America from Europe (mostly England) in the 1600's. We've been here for over 400 years. One of my ancestors was a survivor of Jamestown. I'd like to say "I am American," but I don't feel that I can - I feel like that honor should go to the ones that were here before my ancestors were. My European heritage is so far in the past that it may as well not exist. I was also raised with no religion, so I have no religious tradition to call upon (I think that my family were Quakers until 2 generations ago). I have no larger culture to belong to than the generic "American" rootless culture and it makes me feel small and lonely and separate from eveyone else with their rich backgrounds/cultures/traditions/communities. I feel completely community-less.

I remember feeling this quite poignantly when I was at the activity fair hosted by my college my freshman year - I couldn't join 90% of the clubs since I had no heritage (for instance, the german club or the korean christians or the latinas in engineering). There are no groups for rootless, religionless white girls.

When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?

I'm white, I'm "normal." No one ever delves deeper than that.

I guess I consider myself white and "normal" too. But what is normal? It's all relative. If I lived in Japan I'd probably be anything but normal. When I was a little kid my family went on vacation in Germany, and all the Germans assumed we were little German children and were always very surprised when we spoke English. There were busloads of Japanese tourists who would want to have their picture taken with us because they thought we were just the picture of perfect little blonde-haired German children. They would even come up to us and pet our hair and coo.

I am always jealous of people that can say "I am Irish-American" or "I am Korean" or "I am Jewish." What can I say to compare? I don't have a people, I am just me - I guess I don't feel like that's enough for me.
 

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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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Light hair, light eyes, light skin. That's me. My grandmother was born and raised in Germany, a poster child for the aryan race, and apparantly has very strong genes. Every child in our family looks exactly like her.

When others describe me, they would call me "white" or "caucasian."

I identify as Canadian. I have quite a few American friends, and they all tease me and refer to me as "that silly Canadian." I don't mind this. I am proud of my heritage. I like who I am.
 

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But who are you?
I'm a white working class queer identified bisexual mother. I'm an anarchist (libertarian socialist), an organizer, an activist. a citizen...that is, a person with documents allowing me to live where I live.

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If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself?
white. Whiteness shapes my perception of my value, my sense of entitlement to the world I live in and it's resources. As a white person I carry a huge, yet very light, load of privilege…that is, it's massive, but if I choose to ignore it, I can. At the cpst of my integrity and my sould, but nonetheless as a white person I have a CHOICE to ignore race. As an anti-racist white person, I do not make that choice but instead try very ahrd to centralize race in my life, to always remember I am white, to always think about, analyze, examine and explore what it means to be white and what responsibilities I have as a result.

Working class. In a country known for it's excess, I grew up poor, with hand me downs and minimal perks. Always there have been other people with less, but always more others with more. I grew up with a deep mistrust of people who get everything they need and I resent the vast economic inequity of this society and am committed to doing what I can to change it.

Counter cultural. I grew up on a commune, which was in many ways an alienating experience but it also made me who I am. I am still counter cultural, living collectively, raising my child in a made community.

Anarchist. I am an anarchist. That may not mean what you think it does. LOL.

My community is the radical anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist left community who are actively engaged in making change in this world. That is a local community, a national community, a global community; and being part of that community is a source of strength and love and hope. Without that hope the horribleness of the world today would be overwhelming.

Other elements of my identity include mother, bio-woman, bisexual queer, writer, lover, friend, daughter, sister, fat hottie, blogger, citizen, vermonter, farmer.

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When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience?
White, certainly. That is the only racial term that applies to me.

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Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?
Yes, I identify myself as white, but I include the other things. I think that identifying as white only is hard. Whiteness is nothing to be proud of, and because whiteness has been such an oppressive identity (oppressive to everyone else, I mean), I feel compelled to describe myself further than that. I am white, and it has shaped me deeply…but I am also more than white. That statement applies to everyone, just substitute a different race/ethnicity for "white"…but see, everyone knows whiteness doesn't define white people, but most white people forget that "blackness" doesn't define the full identity of black people, and so on.

 

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

I am a woman. I am a feminist. I am a daughter, sister and wife. Soon, I'll be a mother. When I look in the mirror I see an "average" American. I'm white with brown hair and green eyes. I am of "average" height and weight.
I often see people who look like me represented in the media.

If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself?
I am white. Ethnically, I identify as Irish Catholic.

When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience?
Because I am white and whiteness is dominant in our society, I am seen as part of the "norm". Because I am white and because my family members have been able to assimilate into dominant society, I have been given many privileges.

Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?
It takes conscious effort and thought to not slip into the dominant thought process that "white" equates "normalcy" and "average". I think it is important to acknowledge all of the privileges that come with "whiteness" and the fact that privileges come from the exploitation and domination of others. I think that it takes a lot of work to acknowledge white privilege and that many people are not willing to do that work.
 

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I have a sneaky suspicion that this will be a difficult journey for me. However, this was my quest for this year even before Mothering started these boards.

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

I'm me. A mom, a woman viewed to be disabled, a fighter...a person who may lose but always gets back up again, a mother in mourning, the misunderstood, a woman who truly knows what it's like to be loved, as well as despised. I've been many things and travelled many roads and all of that has molded my personality as much as my genetics have molded my bones and flesh.

I'm 'only 30'.

I'm a loving person, not just a 'woman', with strong convictions and a good heart, but not always the best road map.

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

Racially? I'm white. What parts make up that 'whiteness' seem irrelevant to me. I'm British, Irish, Swedish, and a very small part of me is Indian.

Culturally, I was raised 'southern aristocrat'. My family has money and strong southern convictions. Not only do I have 'white privilege', I also have 'class privilege', and the older I get, the more I realize how these things have shaped me and my perceptions.

I was raised racist, and it has been a long and difficult battle to become anything else. Both sides of my family were slave owners before the civil war, and not only do I fight the racism within my family...but I fight the perceptions of others (even whites) when it comes out that we did in fact own other people. I find myself torn between being enraged that people would insinuate that my family, my own flesh and blood, would have hurt people the way slave owners are described as hurting slaves in history texts and other stories, having to defend my family name from people expressing their disgust, and being disgusted myself with my family because they have continued to carry on racist traditions.

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

I'm 'just white', and as a white person I'm viewed as privileged and probably racist.

My race has been thrown in my face the past year. My toddler was murdered in a black neighborhood and the woman charged with the crime is black. She is using her race to prove that she is a victim, even going as far as having Rev. Sharpton's people stand behind her. It disgusts me, but I'm 'not allowed' to feel that way. On the other hand, my family is enraged and disgusted not just by her actions and the actions of the other people who had a hand in my son's murder, but it has strengthened their convictions that their racism is justified. I feel torn. Stuck in the middle trying not to offend anyone, and I've never felt more 'white' in my life. The fact that I'm white, and my blonde-haired, blue-eyed son was murdered in the home of a black woman in Detroit is something I can't hide or get away from. It is assumed by many...from blacks to white supremacists, that I am already using my race to get this woman convicted, that I am using and will use my white privilege to make this woman pay for my son's death, be it fair or not. It is assumed by all that I am racist, and I get all the hatred and praise that go with it, though I've spoken not a word about how I actually feel.

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

I don't suppose so. Since race was such a big part of my life growing up...and now again race is in the forefront of everyone's mind, I've had to think about racism and race much more than most 'white people' have.

The hardest point isn't that I know where I stand on the racism/race issue at all, but that I have no clue. I'm on a long journey that will shape my life, and all I really know at this point is where not to stand...and that's only due to the personal experiences of myself and others. Unfortunately, the experiences of others are drastically varied, and I have to decide through trial and error which of those experiences I will take to heart.
 

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I'm white. My ancestors came from various northern European countries. I'm Canadian. I'm Anglophone. The only box I've ever needed to check on government documents is not First Nations, Inuit or Metis.

I grew up in a small town with almost no racial variation. Nearly everyone was white. There were a handful of families with Japanese heritage. Most of their parents or grandparents had been victims of the forced relocation and internment camps of WW2. Many such camps were located near my home town. After the war, they had nothing to go back too. Their homes and businesses had been confiscated. So many of them stayed. As a child, I don't remember them being treated differently than anyone else. They seemed just like us. I wonder now though how their view might differ from mine. After all they were "like every one else" because they had become more "white" not because we had become more Japanese. I am, and have always been proud of my community though. They were among the first in Canada to acknowledge that the internment camps had even happened and had apologized and made a memorial for the injustice long before our Federal Government did anything.

There was a strong dividing line in our town though. Hippies and Loggers. Tree huggers and locals (no matter how long you had lived there, environmentalist minded people weren't considered local by the more conservative families.) My family was of the hippy variety. I remember kids at school saying things like "take a bath, dirty hippy" (we were always clean) or "your dad is trying to take away my dads job" So even though I have the "dominant skin tone" I've never felt part of the dominant culture.

I'm now living in an area with a large, vibrant Native population. It's been really interesting to live for a while in a place where people look at me and see a skin tone. Of corse I know my skin tone is attached to privilege but it's been an eye opener none the less.

I'm really looking forward to taking part in this workshop. I feel so ignorant about other races.
 

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But who are you? When you look in the mirror, who stares back at you with eyes full of wonder, mystery, and knowledge? If you had to describe yourself, what community, race, or cultural terms would you use for yourself? When other people or institutions in the community describe you, what racial terms do they give for the complexity of your lived experience? Do you use the same descriptions as others? If not, why do you think there are differences?

I am a woman: nurturer, giver of life, healer, teacher, lover, sister, daughter, friend.

When I look in the mirror, I see pale skin, flushed cheeks, striking black brows with light brown hair, thin and straight. Angular eyes that change shades of blue and green. I see all the women that came before me. English, Polish, German, Russian, Native American. Regal, majestic, strong. Quiet, humble, honest, intelligent. Poor, peasant, illiterate, illegitimate. A connection with these mothers of mine has been severed and I long to know who they were, beyond a name and a birthdate, too often, not even that. I sense a power descending from their hands down through the generations, but the knowledge has been lost.

I feel a strong connection to my immediate family, my children, my husband, my siblings, my grandmother. I feel a connection to more distant relatives, though we are not a close family beyond what I mentioned. I don't feel a sense of community in my neighborhood. I don't feel connection to a race or ethnic heritage. I know the box I'm supposed to check is "white" but I prefer not to check any box. White doesn't mean anything to me. I don't see another white person and think, "Yeah, there's someone like me." They're just another person. I look for other signals to see if they are "like me." But I know skin color means something to other people, and I think some people judge me because of the color of my skin. In their eyes, the color of my skin instantly condemns me as a racist.
 

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In the mirror, my skin is white. I'm light skinned. I can see the native eyes & Latina lips, but outside a largely Latino community it's hidden. Most people don't see it. It's even more hidden by my hijab (Islamic head covering). Now instead of being native eyes, they're Arab eyes, Iranian eyes, or anything Eastern. I think it some what removes me from my Latino community. I call myself Latina because that's the term I feel most comfortable with. In reality I'm a mixture of native and Spanish. The native is now forgotten and the only thing really remembered by others is the Spanish part. Latinos are a mixture of white, black, native..though sometimes the end result is a little lighter or darker in certain communities. Although my mother is white caucasian American, I have never been labeled that by anyone other then black (African-American or African). Since my father is from El Salvador, I'm Hispanic or Latino. When a white person marries a darker person or a person from another group, it seems like it's always the non-white term that is used. That's okay with me though.

In short it's kindda like this…
White people tend to call me Hispanic unless they mistake my scarf for a sign that says I'm Middle Eastern.
Black people tend to call me White.
Hispanic people call me Hispanic unless they assume I'm white.
The government calls me Hispanic.
In America, I'm Salvadorian.
In El Salvador, I'm American.

I really just want to be acknowledged for all that I am, not labled to be fit people's assumptions.
 

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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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wow, I've never really taken the time to ask myself who I am. It just always seemed selfish when others need my time. Its such a tough question and could take lots of time thinking about it. In the general since, I am strong Christ follower. I am German American. I was raised by my mother who was very poor but came from a wealthy family. My family is in the process of moving (for work) into an incarnation ministry (intentional community) in a very poor, urban area. We want to bring justice, healing, love and heaven with us.

I truly hope nobody has ever looked at me as a "nazi" German. My family wasn't apart of that party. They came just before WW1 around 1910. If looking at me, you can tell im German but an average American citizen wouldn't be able to tell. I usually don't describe myself as any race. Im more into describing myself by how I feel. My faith plays a big part in describing myself.
 

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Previously I had thought I was German, right done to the bone. My entire life I was told, we are German, my grandfather came from Germany, was a Nazi sympathizer, loved Hitler. There was nothing else, only Germany.

Until, just a week ago. When I felt inspired to look more into my surname. My grandfather and grandmother may have coem from Germany as well as their parents before them, but we aren't German, we're Norwegian. Norwegian. So I dug deeper. I have treid to do a geneology of my family for some time- off and on, I never got very far (most of my father's family is dead), but this time I was able to get farther and spent ours online.

I've always wanted to hae a connection to something. I'm the outcast of my family so am not connected to any of them so my desire for connection to my past is even more strong. So after hours and hours of searching and learning that my last name is a spelling variation of another I was able to trace my family from the past to the present much easier than the other way around. Norwegian... I'm descended directly from King Canute. I'm elated and shocked. Not that kingship means anything, it doesn't. I could have been descended from a Norwegian sheep herded and I would have een just as elated. But, this is bringing closure and family into my life. Because I do not have a connection through immediate family, I know am gaining a sense of heritage and family through the dead, and I feel satifisied. THIS is who I am becoming. I don't know who I am now. I'm not finished with myself.

I'm white by appearance. Average. I have fair skin that tans easily, I have brown hair that lightens in the sun after a summer of exposure. I come from a family of large people, I'm large.

A few years ago I was turned on to the notion that race didn't exist. That, scientifically there were not enough differences physically or genetically, to classify individuals into "races" and I cling to this idea. We may have multitudes of ethnicities that defien us, but race is not an issue. Racism in other words, is only skin deep.
 

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Well, where to start with this one. Let me first mention that while I do recognize my genetic heratige, I am more of a nurture over nature person.

This is beacause my stepdad, whom I recognize as my only father figure is Sicillian/Scottish. He was there and his culture dominated the houshold. So when people ask me I tell them I am Sicillian Irish(my mother is French Irish).

But-genetically I am French/Irish. I speak very little french anymore but my biological father is French/Canadian(his family is all French and moved to Canada in the 1920's I believe), and my Mother is French/Irish. So that I guess would make me genetically French/Irish.

As far as communities, I am Catholic but dont go to church anymore. I had a run in with The Almighty a few years ago and I am trying to find my way back into the faith, is the simplest way to put it


I am apart of the mothering community I could say. I am now a mother for the first time after 6 tries which to me is very special. I am apart of my local LLL community. I am also an active advocate for the March of Dimes. I am a preemie mom, which could also put me in another community I suppose. I am not one to desigante groups, but that is my take.

I am to me just a mom, loving woman, daughter, and whole-hearted person to the world.

I had a run in with my birth father which has brought me to question a lot of things in my life. I still tell people that I am "Sicillian/Irish" because my stepdad is the ONLY one I recognize as a father figure, there for I am truly proud to recognize his heratige and culture. I am also proud of my Irish Heratige.

When I look in the mirror, I am a pale, white skinned, green eyed, dark haired beautiful woman.
Some days I dont feel so beautiful, but I know deep inside the path I took, and the choices I made; made me who I am today, not where my ancestors came from.

I think to me that is how I view myself.
 

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I'am FEMALE.
I'am Mother.
I'am Wife.
I'am Sister.
I'am Daughter.
I'am granddaughter, neice, grandneice, counsin, second cousin etc.,

I'm from seven cultures and nations but the entire family regonizes only one and tends to simply ignore the others out of a mistaken ideal that race, ethicity, and history should be ignored if it is saddening, painful, or ignorant. The only way I know I'm of seven heritages is by becoming rude, questioning, and blindly oblivious to the social ties that keep such crude topics under the shadows of self.

I suppose I'm white but I hate america chooseing to label races and cultures into sections. I'm not white..., I'm decended from seven nations in less then 2 generations. Pretty big, asking people to drop all thier heritage into one bucket if they are multiple. Besides, people from three nations who are from japan, africa, and south america can proudly claim all, so why not the seven of mine? they are all seperate nations too.
I grew up in New Orleans, I never noticed racism was actually something that caused a stir until my best friend told me I knew nothing about style and clothes at age 10 and I said why should I since I was a kid and she hollered because I was white and was lucky and she hated me and ran out of the house. For me it was a painful shock, she implied I was not good enough and that I was a lousy friend over clothes, I all I ever did was worship her hop scotch skills, and her ability to read faster and that she was taller then me. I did not know she had kids treat her badly because I was homeschooled and she wasn't. I never knew kids could scream nasty dirty slurs and be so cruel. I never knew she was jealous of my skin...something I had no control over!
I had lived in Burbank L.A. for two years then and felt so stunned I cried to my mother about her remarks.

My family is Irsh, polish, english, swede, german, french, scottish. Until a few years ago I thought I was 90 % irish but turns out I'm a good deal less! Hubbby is actually definete 80% german and can claim the country as his if he wants dual citizenship (another race story about him and hiding his race while he was in the states from others due to the attacks about the history his family had nothing to do with) so he is as close to one race as I know of !

Oddly enough all the time overseas I was stunned by people of all cultures constantly asking me my lineage, not race. "Are you scottish or irish, your skin tone and heart face seem Irish but you speak better!" " you are not german like your husband?" " You could be polish, you have the build of a polish woman." " Swede and french in your blood? it is not showing you're nothing like a swede nor are you french! my god you cannot be american!! no, you are far too polite with such decent manners, no attitude!" All the time! One of my best friends was surprised they always asked if she was spanish, italain, or south american and they were just as pointed about feature, build, and trace ancestry.

I wish I could say my ancestry was better tracked but all of my generational linage is poor and they kept thier records badly on purpose to make a better life in the "land of the free" second generation born on American soil is the best way I know myself if in the context of a racial point or ancestral point.
 

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This is a hard question for me, and one that has been on my mind a bit lately.
When I look in the mirror, I see a white woman with a few unusual features. Long, straight, reddish brown hair (on my head...it's jet black everywhere else), grey eyes, pale skin.

My mom is Irish/Slavic and my dad is German, but they adopted me when I was 4 months old. I don't know what race my birthparents are, so I don't know what race I am.

One of my first memories was as a 5 year old in kindergarten, we did a show for the parents. Everyone did something that related to their country of origin. It could involve wearing traditional attire, singing a song or anthem, performing a folk dance, or even bringing a traditional dish to share. I must have presented quite a challenge, so I was told I would have to be the narrator because I wasn't from anywhere.

I guess I identify as white, and find community with people who I share beliefs, esperiences or interests with. I'm also starting to see that being an adoptee is a bit of a community and a culture of its own.
 

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What an interesting discussion and such amazing responses!

I am white. I have blue eyes, freckles and hair that used to be blond, but is now almost black. As for community, I have never had one. I don't belong to the mainstream American white community, because they have values that I do not share. But I am also not a minority and have never been discriminated against because of my race. The only group of people with whom I have felt affinity are people who chose to travel internationally and work with emigres in the US, regardless of color or language. They seemed to understand my need to explore other cultures, question the values of my own country and see beyond my own doorstep. Now that I am a parent and a SAHM, I have no community but DH and DS. We are our own tribe of 3, trying to foster bilingualism, respect and love.

As I have read these responses and tried to formulate my own, I caught myself trying to make my story more interesting than it really is -- I was raised by a dark skinned Italian, we lived on a commune, I was born in a redwood grove. Although these are all true and they did help form who I am today, they are the incidents that I look for when I try to disassociate myself with being white, because being white to me means being privileged, being racist, taking things for granted. And these are not things that I want for myself, although I know they are all true.

As for how others would describe me, they would say white. An observant person might say that I turn a vicious pink in the sun. Mainly, they would just dismiss my color, which is, I guess, the luxury of being white.

(As an aside, DS is blond with big blue eyes. Some adults stare at him with a sort of longing. I thought it was because he stays close and is well behaved in public, but now I am wondering if it has more to do with his looks. I have noticed some people perk up and pay more attention to him when I take his hat off in the park and they notice his blond hair. This is a alarming to me, because I was the blond, blue-eyed child who received too much praise for her looks when I was little and heard too many stories about this as I got older.)
 

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I've been thinking about these questions and wondering how they apply to me, let alone how I can answer them. I don't know that I even have all that much of an understanding of who I am or what, if any, communities I am a part of. But I will try.

Ethnically, I am a basic Euro-mix American. My heritage is primarily German, English, and Irish. I have fair skin and green eyes, so I would be pretty easily identified as a person of European descent. On forms, I usually leave the "race" question blank as a matter of principle, but anyone would classify me as "white."

Culturally, I don't really identify with anything. I don't feel any particular ties to the culture of my ancestors. I am a product, for better or worse, of the larger American culture, so there's that, but I'm alienated from much of it as well. And I am a member, in one way or another, of various subcultures--the parenting subculture, the guardianship/foster subculture, the natural living subculture, the politically active liberal subculture, the homelearning subculture, the autistic/LD subculture, the traditional Christian subculture, the oversees abuse survivor subculture, the clinging-to-middle-class-ness subculture, the chronic medical issues subculture, the stay-at-home-moms-about-town-in-midmorning subculture... All of these are things that, if mentioned, cause me to perk my ears and think "I'm one of those." They are parts of my life, parts of my identity, but not the entirety of it. More than anything, I am an outsider, a lone individual, an independent.

I have become more aware of racial identity since becoming the guardian of my toddler cousin/foster son, who is half (or so) black. To us, he is one of the family, but when we're in public, the difference is conspicuous. Pale woman, pale man, three pale children, and one brown child--which of these is not like the others? It angers me that the difference is considered so meaningful. He is an oblivious little baby, but I know the day will come when he will ask why people look at him differently, and I will have to say that it's because he looks different from the rest of the family. It is so frustrating to me; I have come to hate race, just as I have hated culture since I was a teenager. I hate the divisions and limitations and preconceptions that are forced upon people. But even at the same time, I have to acknowledge that most people have strong feelings about their cultural identity.

Other people who looked at me, who didn't know me well, would, I suspect, classify me as "white American suburban middle-class housewife." And I could not dispute that. But I would not want to be limited to it.
 

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When I look in the mirror, I see my nana, her wide Polish cheeks. I see my other nana's sharply tilted Irish nose. My skin is so light as to be almost transparent.

I am an Irish Catholic feminist, raised working-class, in all those contradictions. When I was nineteen, I learned about white privilege in a training to be a rape crisis counselor, and I realized how much of my life was shaped by my whiteness. I grew up in a West Coast city so segregated you could literally go years without seeing a person of color, and to me, white was what everyone was.

I lived in Ireland after college, and I was the American. Everyone in the States thought I looked "so Irish", but in Ireland I didn't need to say a word and I was seen as an outsider. I am too tall, too big, too there, and my appearance is shaped as much by the cultural norms of my home country as by the recombinant DNA I carry by chance.

My son does not call himself white. He says his skin is "light orange", and when another kid calls him "white boy" he says no, that his skin is orange, and people aren't really white. He says this without any knowledge of racial classifications: to him, nobody is really white because nobody is the color of paper. I recognize white privilege as it appears in and eases my life, and I know that racism is reality. But part of me hopes that my children will actually live in a society where looking at themselves and each other involves recognizing and accepting their differences, and not slotting into categories that seem to fit no one.
 

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When I look in the mirror I see a dark brown haired, blue-grey eyed woman who's full of curiosity and who likes to see the glass half full.
I am a person of mixed European descent: Scotch-Irish, English, German, Dutch. I suppose I would describe myself as 'white'.
But I don't really identify with any particular group, community or culture.
I grew up in a place where whites were not the majority nor the minority, but just another group of people trying to make a living. I always felt myself as lacking a sense of community and special traditions that belonged to me or my heritage. My family and ancestors have been in the United States for several generations and have long since cut any cultural or language ties to any European group.
I have been living outside the US, in Europe, for the past twelve years. But I don't feel any cultural connection to any European place, and am an outsider in my native America as well.
I don't know what specific term someone would give to my lived experience, but it would probably be 'immigrant'.
 

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When I look in the mirror, sometimes I see a tired mother, a person eager to improve herself, a woman who is aging. Sometimes I see beauty and sometimes I see faults. Depends a lot on my mood and what I've been doing that day.

I try to both avoid and embrace race. As a white woman, I have privilege. I've thought a lot about rejecting privilege; I'm probably rarely successful doing so. Do I say to the guard, "Don't assume I'm not a terrorist because I'm white - here search my bag". I've never said that, but maybe I should. I strive to be antiracist and am often angry and at a loss for words when someone makes racist jokes or comments or even more subtle statements based on stereotypes, assuming that I agree because of my perceived race. I often feel so shocked that I can't come up with an effective response - my response tends to be one of outrage, but I would like it to be a stimulating response, something to provoke a questioning of assumptions in the other person. Someone on the defensive is not likely to look at themselves critically.

I am a bisexual, former queer activist living in a heterosexual world. I live with a man, we have a child together, everyone assumes I'm straight except for those who know me well enough to know better. I used to be more visibly queer, with buttons, etc, but feel awkward proclaiming myself that way. Not because others will know I'm queer, but because it just feels awkward to wear buttons as I get older. Not an activist only out of laziness and a complete and total indulgence in mothering.

I'm in a glorious relationship with dp, loving my dc, always looking for new ways of seeing the world. I like to travel, both so that I can see new things and learn about other cultures, but also to experience being "other" - an experience that can be uncomfortable or even scary at times, but mostly helps me be a better person.

I live in a multicultural neighborhood, but mourn that the groups here are segregated in their activities. However, I also recognize that this segregation may be essential if different cultures, languages and traditions are to survive. If the melting pot all melts together, life may get less interesting.

Most of my ancestors are Northern Europeans. There's also a missing link in our geneology. On my father's side, we trace back to the South, but not to the actual plantation whose owners' bear our last name. There are some in my family who've done a lot of geneology and know the "secret" and they don't want to pass it along. White sharecroppers - why would this be such a huge secret to a family that grew up very poor and white in the South? Descendants of slaves who passed as white? I may never know.

I often wonder how I can help my white ds grow up to be a responsible anti-racist white man. I look forward to the rest of this activity and hope to grow and change through participating.
 
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