Monday, March 31, 2008

Mixed-Sum Up

Well, about a week ago, I finished Mixed. As I mentioned in my previous entry, I was not very impressed. My suspicion is that it was the style of writing that I disliked because the content I could identify with. "No you can't!" I'm sure people will scream at me "you are not biracial". Well, technically I'm not. Both my parents are Mexican, but don't Mexicans come in all different colors and ethnicities, heck even religions? Yes they actually do. When I was deep in the throws of my Ethnic Studies studies, I looked at my parents and realized, wow, I think I *could* be biracial. You see, race is a bit more mixed up in Mexico. Like the Unites States now, there was a lot of mixing going on in Latin American during the Spanish "Conquest". Unlike the Unites States back then, Catholics in Latin American wanted to include Native Indians, Indios, into their religion, thus mixing, resulting in what is called a Mestizo, or Mestizaje. The United States thought the "separate but equal" approach would best suit Native Indians, thus we have to this day, reservations. I won't even go into slavery and how separate that was. But I am a product of mestizaje. I am a product of my Spanish ancestry, (which if you look far enough, includes the Moors) as well as indigenous people of Mexico. I've often gotten from people, "you look Persian, Middle Eastern, Indian, Arabic . . ." but I'm none of these, ethnicity wise. I'm American by birth, Mexican-American by culture and Mexican by heritage.
I could be biracial if you look at my parents. My mom is a guera, or a light skinned Mexican. She comes from a family of blue/green-eyed relatives. My dad on the other hand, is more prieto, or dark skinned. He comes from the more Indian/moorish past, even though it's my mother who had an Indian great-grandmother. If you look at it, you could easily say my mom is "white" and my dad is "native", but since they're both "Mexican" it seems nulled.
Just yesterday, I was showing a photo to my boyfriend's roommate. It was us four girls in Mexico: my two sister-in-laws, my mother and myself. He asked innocently, "what's with all the white people?" "All" seems to imply "most", but if you think about it, it's 50/50. My mom is Mexican and my sisters are white, but yet, he saw that they were mostly all white. So what's in a color if you're from a different culture? What do people see/hear first? Your accent? Your color? And once supplied with the proper information, how does that color one's thoughts on the photo?
I know I veered way off track on this entry, but what I was trying to illustrate is that even though I am not "seen" as biracial in it's most common definition of black and white (and I do believe my future children will not be seen as biracial even though their father is part Italian, Irish, Native and English and at one point in history, both Italians and Irish were seen as separate races to white) I still see myself as part of two worlds. I'm an American Oregonian cocooned in a Mexican culture. I've lived both lives, I've been in both cultures. I used to find it difficult to navigate between my two worlds when I was younger even ashamed, but now I say, f it. If you don't or can't accept it, that's your problem, not mine. I also don't jump down people's throats if they ask questions, there's no point. If you don't ask questions, no matter how ignorant they are, how can one ever learn the trueth?
I'll take the best of both and create my own culture. I do believe that family creates one's culture and I sure look forward to creating my children's.

1 comment:

Laura said...

That was a very interesting posting, and one I can relate to--I'm half middle-eastern. Technically, not a separate race from plain old white, but a little darker, and, given the current political climate, definitely differentiates me. I've been mistaken for Italian (by an Italian), Jewish, Scandinavian, and most recently, Venezuelan. It seems people think I look like something, but have no idea what. It kind of makes me feel special, but at times, not knowing what my actual ethnicity is, people might make anti-middle-eastern comments, which obviously pisses me off. So yeah, it's complicated.