What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?
My mother is half Greek and Irish. My grandma came from Ireland when she was a child and her family had such a thick accent that they gave her the last name, ‘Brown’ instead of her actual Irish last name. I’ve never met my mother’s father; but according to my great aunt, who was the record holder of our family, he was Greek. My father is 100% Cuban and was born in Havana, along with my abuelo and abuela [grandpa and grandma]. He was less than a year old before he came to the US.
Can you speak any of these languages?
Sadly, I can’t speak any of my languages except for English.
Did you have any struggles growing up mixed race, such as any internal or external issues?
Never went through any struggles, but the only thing I remember was trying to fit into the Latino culture of friends and they had a hard time accepting me at first, but that never held me back from making friends.
Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?
I identify as mixed, but mostly with my Cuban side, because they come in all shades of color. Besides the fact that I don’t speak Spanish and grew up with my mom when my parents divorced when I was 4-5.
Do you feel, or have you felt, like you didn’t belong to either one of your ethnic groups?
I always felt like I belonged to my ethnic backgrounds.
What’s your ethnic background?
My mom is Peruvian and my dad is Chinese, I was born here.
Does it bother you when people ask about your ethnic background?
No, it doesn’t bother me at all. People just get confused with why I speak Spanish, then I just let them know. I usually make it simple and say I was born here, I’m American, but if they ask where my parents are from I just tell them my mom is from Peru and my dad is Chinese.
Do you visit each country often?
Not as often as I’d like to, but I was just in Peru a couple years ago. China, I need to go visit; I haven’t been to China since I was 15. I don’t really have any direct family in China. In Peru, I have a lot of family. Both my mom’s side and my dad’s side I have a lot of family down in Peru.
Did your parents meet in Peru?
My dad met my mom in Peru when he was 20 or 22, he went to Peru when he was 17 or 18 and was raised by his grandmother. Then they moved here and he was always working, particularly the upper west side [NYC] and decided to open this restaurant.
Do you identify with one side more than the other?
Not really. I just say that I’m mixed, I grew up with a lot of Asian-American kids, all or most of my friends are Chinese-American. Since I grew up with them, they’ll just consider me Chinese-American, they don’t really see the other side of me where I have to speak Spanish, that’s just mainly for work, I don’t really have to speak it outside of work, except in my home. At home, my mother spoke to me in Spanish growing up.
Do you feel that one of your communities outcasted you?
Growing up in Queens there weren’t too many Peruvians. Naturally, I just stuck with whatever was more comfortable to be around, since I look Chinese/Asian I kind of just naturally wanted to hang out around other people that looked just like me. I think that’s just natural human reaction, but being outcasted, no, I never felt that way even towards the hispanic culture.
Did you ever feel like you had an identity crisis?
Do you think there’s a struggle growing up mixed race?
Yea, because it wasn’t that common [around the 90’s], it was looked weird upon. But, its something very common nowadays. Growing up in the 90’s in Queens, it wasn’t that nice, I grew up in the very hispanic neighborhood. It was my family and another two Asian families on that block and we were just treated a little bit more differently because we didn’t look hispanic. So just growing up in that neighborhood was a little bit tough, for me, but we just adjusted and adapted. I mean, until I was 10 I grew up with hispanic kids and they weren’t that nice to me. They were kind of like, “What are you doing here on my block, you’re Chinese.” I didn’t have a nice childhood, but I adapted.