We're all mixed
by phil on Tuesday Mar 3, 2009 1:01 PM
better than middle, race better-than-middleness
I don't want to use the word racially sensitive to describe myself, but race issues swirl around me on a daily basis. Being of visibly mixed race, I'm constantly hit with novel approaches to race.
Some Filipinos treat me as one of their own. Others treat me as only partially one of their own. Some Filipinos are race-blind and don't care.
At Subway, the service staff talks to me in Spanish. At the dry cleaners, the older Hispanic ladies treat me as if I was their nephew. At Mexican restaurants, some customers give me puzzling looks as if to say, "is this guy Mexican?" Others just pass over me as if I blend in. When the waiter finds out I don't speak Spanish, he gives me a disappointed look as if I'm transgressing my heritage somehow. "Come on, don't you want tortillas?," he pleaded with me today.
An Indian girl once asked me if I was Indian. I said, "I'm half-Indian, half-Filipino." She replied with a strange look that I'll never forget and said, "Oh, that's cool, you know, to be unique and all." I could tell she was giving me a compliment out of sympathy. When she said that, it never occurred to me that I would feel like a mongrel or a mutt.
And it didn't bother me then and it still doesn't bother me. Sometimes my race works to my benefit, other times it doesn't. Sometimes I play it up, sometimes I don't. When I applied to colleges under the ethnicity box I checked "Other."
The overall theme/point I'm getting across is Mr. In-The-Middle. It seems that in our media all we hear are the two extremes of race-obsession. On one end, we have Mr. UR-WHITE MAN Clint Eastwood decrying how bad it is that we can't make racial jokes. On the other end, we have the overly race-conscious types wondering aloud, "What does this mean? What does this mean?"