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Western Michigan meets Korea near Chicago

Mark Cooper Lafayette, IN In elementary school, my best friend turned to me and said, “Mark, I don’t even think of you as asian anymore!” I knew he meant that our friendship had stepped beyond perceived race, but the phrasing could not be anymore alienating. I have family that trace back to the Mayflower, to [...]

Don’t tell me what I am.

Nicole “Nico” Cisneros USA I know what I am! I’m Cuban-Filipino-American; first-generation Filipino on my mom’s side and second-generation Cuban on my dad’s side. I love celebrating my heritage, but what really puts a pause in my delight– and what sometimes feels like a gut-check– is when others respond with something like, “…but you’re not [...]

Do I get to throw pineapples?

Gina Collignon Madison, WI This came to me in exasperation after the last person called me “exotic.” “What,” I thought, “like a pineapple?” I’m mixed white and Filipina from San Francisco, living in the midwest. I never had to think much about race growing up–in my family and group of friends I was considered white [...]

filippinofamily

You do not look INSERT RACE

Jamie M. Young, Seattle, WA. I was born in Subic Bay, Philippines at the former U.S. Naval Base. My father is from Minnesota (of Norwegian/Irish decent), and my mother is from Minuhang, Leyte, Philippines. I am mixed race, but I have fair skin and dark hair. When I attend family events, I physically do not [...]

Blonde

Are both your parents from Cuba?

Barbara Rodriguez, Florence, SC. Yes, they both are Cuban. The look of shock never ceases to amaze me. Is it because I’m blonde and have green eyes…yes! Is it because of where I live…yes! Growing up in New York, everyone I knew could tell me about their heritage. My neighborhood was a perfect melting pot [...]

I’m not Hispanic, thanks for asking.

Elizabeth Norris Taylor Fernandina Beach, FL I have lived my entire life with people coming up to me and asking, “what are you?” For a while in college, I had some very clever comebacks… now days I simply shrug and say, “American, and you?” I have had people come up to me and speak Spanish [...]

I ate pasta, family ate rice.

Melanie Vanderlipe Ramil Sacramento, CA Growing up, I wanted to be as “non-Filipino” as possible and felt great achievement whenever a friend said to me, “You seem so white!” During my middle school years, I claimed to not like rice (the staple for every night’s family dinner). My mom, after rushing home from work to [...]

The Asian/Pacific Islander category is very enticing.

Cheryl Mercado Arnedt West Orange, NJ My grandmother and her sister — red-headed daughters of NYC cops — both married full Filipino men and were disowned. There was no race in our family – just rice AND potatoes at every meal. My grandfather “Pupa” intentionally didn’t pass down his Asian-ness or his language Tagalog so [...]

How come I was not invited?

Carolyn Hisako Okinaga Honolulu, HI I asked this question when I was growing up on Ewa Plantation. Ethnic groups were housed in separate villages on the plantation based on race and position, e.g., Filipinos laborers lived in Fernandez Village, Japanese in B Village, etc. All of the caucasian (“haole”) supervisors/bosses lived in Renton Village; they [...]