Blended: Ace

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What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

My dad is Filipino, Italian, and German but was born in America. My mom is from the Philippines.

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

I feel tied to the Filipino culture but not fully connected to it. I have always wanted to learn the language but because I was born here it was hard for me to have the opportunity to learn it.
Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

I actually refer to myself as an American. Although I am very proud to be Filipino I feel my roots are very grounded in this country. I speak English, I eat more of the foods from this country, and am more exposed to its culture and history. When it comes to my values I guess I could say I am a little more reserved and find more influence from the Filipino culture and even Italian.

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

I actually find myself more connected to the Italian culture right now, mainly because I am more involved in it. Speaking the language, knowing the culture, and knowing more of its history makes me feel as if it is more a part of me. I think the language is what makes me feel more of a connection to it. When I was younger I really wanted to learn Tagalog, the Filipino language, but unfortunately I was rejected from the language. Not purposely, but because I was born in America and it was easier for my mom to teach me English and apply it.

Italian however, I had a more welcoming introduction and find myself more surrounded by those who are Italian and who speak it. In a sense that gave me a sort of community. I will always consider Filipino as a part of me, and I do have many friends and those who I am close to who are Filipino. But I feel there is a bit of a distance between me and being Filipino.

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

I feel tied to being Filipino but not connected to it.

 

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Blended: Lucas

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What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

My father is German and Russian and was born in New Jersey. My mother is Filipino and Chinese and was born in the Philippines. Both of my parents have many other ethnicities, but those are the most prevalent.

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

I would occasionally be made fun of for having tan skin and being tall. In grade school race didn’t matter. I had friends from all ethnic backgrounds and we all got along. Maybe it was because it was a small catholic school, but there was never any racial issues.

High school was a different story. One instance, when I was a freshman, a classmate called me a “gook.” I didn’t really know what it meant so it didn’t really bother me. Unfortunately, I started calling other kids that word until I found out what it actually meant. Interestingly enough, that same kid went on to marry a Filipina and they have a son that looks a lot like I did when I was young. I’m still friends with him, and he’s a really great guy. It’s just a memory that stands out.

Later in high school I was nicknamed “The Samoan,” which I didn’t take offense to at all. It didn’t seem derogatory to me, and I didn’t think it was meant to be. It was likely attributed to my size and skin color, but I never considered myself fat or overweight. My weight has always fluctuated. My first year of college I weighed 250 pounds and by my last year of veterinary school I was 190lbs. It all depended on how active I was and what sport I was playing. I always played football in grade school and high school. I played volleyball during my undergraduate and graduate studies.

As I got older, I really appreciated my mixed heritage and I’m fortunate for it. I was over 6 feet tall by the time I was 16, and always athletic. Tanning is pretty easy for me and I love basking in the sun. My alcohol tolerance is pretty high too (must be the German). I have been told I’m pretty good looking, at least my wife would agree!

Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

I’d have to say both. When people ask me my background, I don’t say, “I’m white” or “I’m Filipino,” my typical response is, “I’m half Filipino.” Alternately, I would check the box for “white” on a questionnaire or form. Socially, I typically identify as mixed race but for documents and forms it’s one race, mainly to simplify things.

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

Not really. My sisters and I grew up in the Filipino-American culture. We thoroughly enjoyed the culture and especially the cuisine. I understand a little bit of Tagalog, but not nearly enough to feel like I can take part in a conversation.

Growing up I never felt like an outcast, my closest friends that I grew up with are primarily of Irish descent. We always made fun of each other growing up, but it was never about race. In closing, I never felt like I was unwelcome to any particular group because of my ethnicity. I’ve always felt that I could belong anywhere.

Blended: Kimmy and Sammy

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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.

 

Blended: Wes

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What are your parent’s ethnic backgrounds?

My mother is Japanese and my father is Polish and Irish.

Can you speak any of these languages?

No.

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

No internal issues, I never really thought about it. Externally, I remember vaguely being teased occasionally. But I don’t really remember anything specific.

Do you identify as mixed race or by one race?

Mixed race I guess, but I consider myself white more than anything else.

Do you feel like you’re part of more than one culture?

No, because since my parents were both born in the states, I was raised very American. I wasn’t raised more by one side than the other.

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

That being said [above], I think other people identify me more Asian than anything else because that’s obviously the most distinguishable feature about me.

 

 

Coming to America: Silvia

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Translated by me.

Place of Origin: Recanati, Marche, Italy

When did you move to America?

I came to America exactly on January 3rd 1999 on a scholarship.

So you came here to study?

I came here right after graduation, which was December of 1998, from the University of Urbino, where I studied Foreign Languages. And I won an exchange student scholarship and I immediately came for the spring semester in 1999 to the University of Columbia in South Carolina for one semester. From there, on another scholarship, I earned my masters in Mass Communications from the University of Miami. The first scholarship I received was only an exchange program to help me adapt to the United States, to help me improve my English. My plan was always to return to Italy either after the exchange program or after my masters and to find a job in a multinational company.

Are you still thinking of returning or would you rather stay here?

Well… It’s different now. My situation is a little more complicated. At the time, I thought of returning to Italy because I didn’t think it was possible having a life in the United States and to get a work visa, plus things just happened one after another. During my master’s degree, for my scholarship, I had to teach Italian and I started pedagogical courses. Instead of returning, when my study visa would have expired, I went for a doctorates degree at the University of Pennsylvania. And after my doctorates I immediately found a place to teach and… here I am! [Adjunct professor at Montclair State University] But now it’s different, with my husband and two kids, every now and then we think, “yes, maybe it would be nice to go back to Italy” but at this point we already have a life here. I would only think about moving back to Italy for my children to be able to be close to their family, because here they don’t have any, because we’re alone, it’s just my husband and I.

What’s the one thing you miss the most in Italy?

I’m still very close with my family and friends. Going back to Italy at least twice a year is vital for me. But now we’re not even sure if we should go for Christmas anymore because it’s too much, it’s only for ten days, and it can easily become stressful for the kids. There’s so many people to see and things to do that it becomes more stressful than an actual vacation.

What were some of your struggles when you first came here?

I did and didn’t have struggles, but I mean, everyone does. But I’ve always been a person that likes to adapt to different cultures. I’m not too strict and… I can’t think of anything that was a bit challenging for me.

What’s the one thing you like the most about America?

It’s probably cliché, but there are many more possibilities for people here than there are in Italy, or all of Europe in general. In terms of your career, you can do much more here, especially nowadays.

Coming to America: Jonssen

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Place of origin: Cebu City, Philippines

When did you move to America and why?

“Around 2003 and 2004, My mom was offered a better job so she moved to in 2000 and my older sister and dad followed. I wanted to be with my family so I moved to America too and then later my three other siblings came. My family wanted a better quality of life. My parents wanted to give us a better chance to succeed because the majority of people in the Philippines live in poverty.”

Was it hard for you to adapt?

“English was the hardest part. I felt very self conscious about my accent, I got teased a lot, and I felt weird about having an accent. I would try using TV lingo — thinking about it now it didn’t make sense in the context I used them in. I would say “radical” a lot and I would always use “totally” randomly. Also, a few culture shocks for me were when I noticed people didn’t take their shoes off in their homes, when kids called their parents by their first name, how disrespectful they were to their elders by talking back and not listening. ”

What do you like most about America?

“The girls are so hot…[Laughs] And the fact that I feel very safe here. I don’t have to worry about anything and It’s also easier for my family to feel at ease that we’re safe. And the opportunities here are great and you have a better chance to succeed.”

What don’t you like about living in America?

“Definitely the rudeness, compared to the Philippines everyone there is so nice considering they don’t have much. Sometimes I feel like people here think they’re better than everyone else.”