“Who’s that white boy talking to Ning?”

image5 (2)Antonio “Tono” Cruz Sablan,
Tacoma, WA.

Immediately when I was born in 1996, I was adopted by two very loving individuals. My parents, Antonio “Tony” and Brenda Sablan, have provided me with years of unconditional love; the Chamorro community, however, was not always the same. My father is a Chamorro, native to the island of Guam, and my mother is White. I was adopted by an interracial couple and, from what they’ve conveyed to me, life has been far from easy. In fact, for a number of years my father was disowned by his father for marrying a white woman. As the two repaired their relationship for my sake it became evident that things would not be the same. On the outside, I am White. But on the inside, I identify with my Chamorro culture; I was raised with traditional Chamorro values. My grandfather Antonio, or “Ning” in Chamorro, liked to have me at his many fiestas and parities so I could eat well, enjoy myself, and have a good time. A lot of Chamorros that I didn’t know would see me with my grandfather and ask “Who’s that white boy talking to Ning?”. At the parties I was referred to as “apaka”, white in Chamorro, or “Haole”, the islander equivalent to “Gringo”. This made me really uncomfortable and when I became older and more fluent in the Chamorro language I could actually understand what was being said about me. But I never had the courage to say something. My one regret in life unto this point is not standing up and professing the injustice then and there so other people like me, half-casts, would no longer be patronized for the color of their skin. I would go back a million times over and stick up for what was right.

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