Blended: Deanna

dsc_0003

What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

My dad is African American and my mom is Ukrainian (Russian).

Did you have any struggles growing up mixed race, such as any internal or external issues?

When I was growing up, especially in middle school, I struggled internally with fitting into a specific group of friends. I was always accepted, but I always felt that I didn’t quite fit in. I probably felt this way because I wasn’t honest with myself at the time about my identity. It wasn’t until later in high school where I felt more comfortable and confident with my background.

Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

I consider myself mixed in terms of my skin color, but when it comes to my identity, I consider myself Russian.

Do you feel like you’re part of one ethnic group more than the other?

Yes, on my Russian side. I learned to speak the language at a very young age through my mother and grandparents, I continued to learn how to read and write it in college, and I know the history and stuff. But, I don’t really know much about my African American side.

Do you feel, or have you felt, like you didn’t belong to either one of your ethnic groups?

Yes, at times I felt that I can’t identify with either group. For instance, when I go to Brooklyn, specifically Brighton beach where nearly everyone is Russian, they often talk about me and are even rude to me. They make me feel like I don’t belong and in the past I had let that bother me. Now what I do is say something politely back to them in Russian and totally catch them off guard. I have never quite felt like I fit in the African American community completely because I’m always told, to this day, I’m “too white” or that I “talk like a white girl” and I’m still trying to figure out what that means.

Blended: Kimmy and Sammy

DSC_0005

Kimberly (Left) Samantha (Right)

What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

Our dad is black and our mom is Chinese.

Did you have any struggles growing up mixed race, such as any internal or external issues?

 K: When I was younger, my mom always brushed out my curly hair, which if you don’t know, it’s a big “NO-NO.” I don’t blame her because she and everyone else in her family have straight hair. She didn’t know how to take care of curly hair. I remember not liking my frizzy big hair and wanting to have straight hair like everyone else. I felt bad about my hair and through out middle school I got my hair chemically straightened. Now, I appreciate and love my curly hair because it’s different. I know how to take care of it and people complement me for it.

S: Externally, I never had any issues growing up. All of our classmates treated us with respect and no one discriminated. Since our town is mostly white, our friends said we were their exposure as the “one black person they knew.” Internally I felt, and still feel, a little guilty since I felt and I identified more as Asian than I did black. Growing up we were exposed more to the Asian culture since we saw our mom’s side of the family more than our dad’s side.

Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

 K: I identify as both black and Asian, or as my friends call it “blasian”, but I know more about the Chinese culture than the Bajan culture.

S: Despite the problem mentioned above, I still like to identify as both black and Chinese. I’d like to embody the best of both cultures and show how being multicultural is something to embrace.

 

Do you feel, or have you felt, like you didn’t belong to either one of your ethnic groups?

K: Even though I look more black than Asian, I sometimes feel distanced from my Bajan heritage. I have visited Barbados, but I don’t see my dad’s side of the family as often as I do my mom’s. I miss out on family stories of my grandparents and great aunts/uncles.

S: Around my family I feel as if I do belong to both cultures. However, in public places, such as the city, I sometimes feel as if I don’t belong to the black culture. Seeing other black students in my school and observing them in public places makes me uncomfortable because I can’t identify with them. I wish I could learn more about their culture and be able to confidently say I belong.

 

Coming to America: Hernen

DSC_0006

Place of Origin: Kilkelly, Ireland

When and why did you move to America?

“I came to America when I was 18 and the main motivations for coming here the first time was to meet my biological parents, cause I was adopted when I was 8 years old. So I was born in the United States, so I came back here to meet with my parents and while I was here, because I have American citizenship, I decided to start going to university here. [Majoring in Linguistics]”

What do you like about America?

“There are definitely more seasons here, than Ireland. And there… I wouldn’t say more or less, but there are different job opportunities here.”

[In what ways are they different?]

“The job opportunities? Well… For example, from where I’m from, in Ireland, job opportunities are very colloquial. There’s a lot of stuff that you would do like hard labor, manual labor. Whereas you have to go towards bigger cities like Galloway and Dublin, things like that, in order to find office jobs or jobs with larger companies, whereas here it’s a lot easier, there’s a lot of different places that you can find, you don’t necessarily need to live in or near a major city.”

What don’t you like about America? 

“The culture is very different.”

[Is it a matter of adjusting?]

“It’s about adjusting and the food quality is just not as good. I don’t think the living quality is as good. People I think generally are a lot less happy, in America then they are in other places, because they don’t get as much free time and if they do they don’t know how to enjoy their free time other than indulging themselves into technologies and electronics and stuff like that.”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“It was a shock and it was a little bit difficult to adjust, because I come from a village of 300 people. So, when I first got off the plane in New York City, in JFK, I saw more people than I have ever seen in my entire life.”

** Hernen was born in the United States, but identifies himself as Irish because he grew up there, knows its culture, and language better than the United States.**

**In addition, he has a heavy Irish accent.**

Coming to America: Marta

Marta_GB

Place of Origin: Verona, Italy

When did you come to America and why?

“2002 in June, my father works for the U.S. government and was transferred to the U.S. he works with sports for children, but also adults. So, his contract expired in Italy and needed a renewal so he took a job in New York. My father moved in 6 months before my whole family did and we lived with my grandmother. She left us the house after she passed away.”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“Yes and no, because there were Americans in Italy on the base I lived on. I had experience with American culture and I celebrated American holidays. It was more adapting to the language than the culture. My spelling would always be wrong, because in Italian you spell things the way you would say it. I was in ESL more for the grammar and spelling. And sometimes, even now, words for objects come to me in Italian first instead of English.”

What do you like most about America?

“There is so much to see and its so accessible. The food, the diversity of it, and how accessible they are because Italian markets are hardly open. They take un aperitivo [breakfast], then they have the siesta, they take a nap, and then they have to go for a passeggiata [go for a walk]; I’m surprised they’re even open [laughs].”

What don’t you like about living in America?

“It’s expensive and there’s a lot of people, at least in New Jersey, we’re very densely populated. And going for walks isn’t easy because you can’t take a stroll to the park or go in piazza [public squares and market places in Italy] to meet your friends because everything is so far away. From where I used to live everything was so close and of walking distance you could even take public transportation, which isn’t bad, and you have more of a chance to be social.”