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"So, what are you? I mean, how do you categorize yourself? Are you black? White? Hispanic? Maybe some Polynesian?" These are the questions many of us who are classed as "multiracial" or "multi-ethnic" are asked. Not just randomly, or once in a blue moon, but on a daily basis. You, yourself often probably wonder what we would classify ourselves as. The bottom line is we cannot, and often do not, classify ourselves to one specific "race" or "ethnicity." How can you?
It is the same question you may ask a transgendered individual, "Are you a boy or a girl?" Obviously, the answers would be drastically different. For those who are multiracial or multi-ethnic, we see all aspects of our background as a benefit, and sometimes, a curse. "How so?" Well, for instance, a young woman who is light skinned, but her parents are African-American and Italian might be seen as "white" and thus, when she speaks out about the injustices of her fellow African-Americans, she may be told "You don't understand because you are NOT black."
It happens, more than you realize.
The evolution of a multiracial or multi-ethnic individual is that of enlightenment, in my personal experience. We have the ability to bridge a gap, a void created by ALL sides. Why? Because we experience ALL sides of racial profiling, or ethnic segregation. We have the capacity to truly look beyond the skin and see the individual. Not that other ethnicities or races cannot, it is that they most often do not, and/or will not. There is a difference.
It is also not to be mistaken that we do not take pride in our cultural background, because we do. We take pride in every part that makes us who we are, and we see the good in all parts of ourselves. On the other side, this hinders us from saying we are something specific as that would diminish our parents, our grandparents, our own history. It would be wrong, and rather racially discriminant to assume we don't understand or appreciate the histories we come from.
So, why am I bringing this up? Why is it important?
In light of what is happening in society, now, more than ever, I believe we need to start listening, to all sides who wish to move forward positively. We cannot have PoC discriminating against multiracial or multi-ethnic people for the same reasons PoC's are discriminated against, but should rather listen to what we have to say, and how we have learned to have compassion and forgiveness while still being respectful and not forgetting the past. Knowing how we can truly move forward through educating and listening to perspectives.
I was asked, in light of Charlestown, what we can do instead of pushing the blame onto media or the inadequate reaction of the White House or the squabbling amongst the communities. My response was, "Listen and educate." That is where it begins. The next step is moving away from "hate", stop enabling hate groups and start calling them for what they are, terrorists. No matter what happens, the bottom line, the beginning point is listening to each other and educating each other.
We need to get away from labeling each other, categorizing each other so that you can feel more comfortable. Again, this is not to diminish our history, our cultural backgrounds, but it is to remove the foolish concept of pride in something that is diminishing your own history in itself. Are you "John" or are you "White?" Are you "Alessandra" or are you "Latino?" Are you "Marlon" or are you "Black?" There is more to you than a word, a label, so that you can fit in society. So, that is why we cannot and often do no identify as "black" or "white" or "Asian" or "Hispanic" because we are so much more than a label, and do not fit neatly into that label. Let us move forward, begin the education and healing process, and make a world where we truly are unified.