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

"I'm half black half white, beyond that, I have no idea"... she takes pride in that, likes being half, because "at some point people of two different races conceived two children out of complete love, and in the late 70's it was still extraordinary."

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

She checks the African American box; used to use the term mulato, but found she had to explain the term. Now she just tells people half black half white. She has experienced Hispanics getting angry that she couldn't speak Spanish because they assumed she was Hispanic.

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

She's observed an apologetic, carefulness in white people approaching her about her race... trying to step lightly... this brought up the subject of the white-American cultural guilt; that she has seen that white folks try not to offend. And, people of other races than white will generally come right out and ask "What are you?" She mentioned feeling grated by how blacks won't move on from the past; won't let the whites move on... it's important to remember our history, but it's equally important to move forward, bettering one's self and our society by remembering the lessons that history teaches us, and not directly take that history personally; we didn't live that history... it's ok to recongize where we came from, that that was our people, but we shouldn't use their experience as an excuse to not better our selves, our own lives, and our world.

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

When asked if there is a difference between how others would describe her culturally once they know what her ethnicity is, and how she describes her own cultural heritage she responded, "I don't think I'm that cliche of black people, which is a horrible thing to say that there is a cliche..." she thinks that people perceive a cliche, and admits that maybe she thinks there is one too... when asked what she thinks that cliche is, she said, "Actually it's not as bad as it used to be, and I can tell you when my opinion changed... I grew up thinking a typical black woman or girl would always have kids trailing after her.... it's like a Southern thing... I saw it a lot of times when I went down there when I was 14-15, a lot of women had a lot of kids, a lot of the time... but it doesn't matter the race, there were just a lot of teen pregnancies... my mom put the fear of god into us about getting pregnant and boys... Looking back in our neighborhood in the 90's gangs were prolific, it didn't matter if you were a boy or a girl, there were just the regular gangs, and I remember 5 girls, 2 black girls (I was one), 1 Hispanic, and 2 white... all the same age, all went to high school together... I assumed the Hispanic girl and the black girls would be more likely to join gangs, get pregnant, drop out of school; but I observed that it was the Hispanic girl and the white girls who did, while the black girls went on to graduate without joining gangs or getting pregnant. It completely blew my idea of that cliche... it's like my cliche was broken. It makes me now as a person... not so judgemental. A cliche is a judgement... "

What kinds of privileges do you have in a world segmented along lines of difference?

"I take almost a strange pride in that I speak clearly and articulately, that I'm educated... my dad has even mentioned it, that we (my sister and I) "speak educated"... I think it's given me an advantage, like in the sense that for example, if I'm on the phone for a job interview, before they see me for the actual interview, when they meet me, it's like a pleasant surprise... I can be their token black person for the company, and when I talk I come across clearly, and people can understand me... and it's sad, it's another cliche, black people talk in slang... it's sad that I have a sense that all black people talk this way... when they don't...Sometimes in that situation, I feel shame."
I asked her to clarify, and she admitted that even while she's feeling that pride, she's also feeling shame. "But only when I'm with my dad's side of the family, down south."

How can one positively claim an identity that other people negatively castigate on a daily basis?

"I think the best thing to do, that I try to do, is when I look at or talk with people, be color blind... Break whatever cliche against race they have..."

How can we all learn to live with peace if our hearts are filled with either fear or confusion?

Living with peace starts with understanding your self, if we can find ourselves spiritually it will make us better people. Cliches and judgement will no longer be as apparent. I think when we're spiritual, it makes us ask what we can do to better our society. We'll never be able to get rid of cliches and judgement, it's just part of the good and evil... we can release our hearts fromfear and confusion by not being afraid to befriend people of different races... don't be afraid to talk to people.

Did anything surprise you? What did you learn about the person that you are interviewing that you never suspected? What did the interview help clarify for you about your own upbringing? What differences or similarities did you find between both of your encounters with race?

I talked with my friend a little about my own perceptions and assumptions, about my attraction to "brown" and my almost "adoration" of other races, an unconscious feeling that brown folks automatically have more culture than I do, and about how striking I found it that she hadn't really had a lot of racially charged experiences. I found that I had assumed that because she is black, she must have a clear and defined perception of her race, her race-experience, and her history... and was surprised to find she hadn't put as much thought into it as I had assumed she would have... That this conversation was really one of the first times she can remember discussing race on a deeper level. This blew my mind, and "broke my cliche"... She recongized that my own experience, as having come from artificial insemination with no clue as to my ethnicity, might color my perceptions, and how, for me anyway, the race conversation from a cultural-back-ground point of view, would be especially fascinating and a challenge for me to understand. We both recognized the cultural differences between, like, the black community and the Hispanic communities, and that with whites, it doesn't seem to be a racial aspect, culturally, but almost always an economic one... the upper echelons of whites don't get pregnant and drop out and such, and if they did, it wasn't publicized...
 
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