Half Indian, Half German, totally American

Oakland, CA

People often ask me “What are you?” or “Where are you from?” which is par for the course for people like me who are ambiguously brown looking, which is how I’ve come to refer to myself. Over time I’ve noticed my attitude toward other people who ask these questions changing. I used to be sort of confused about how to answer, then I became bored and sometimes frustrated with the questions, but now I don’t get caught up in the wording of the question, and I give people the kindness of assuming their questions come from a place of curiosity, which they usually do, which is actually pretty sweet. Funny thing is that my *white* friends get outraged when they hear these questions now… they even retell the stories with a little self-righteousness of their own: “Oh GOD Marika and I were just at the bar and someone asked her ‘How’d you get so tan?’ What the f*ck, God people are just so RUDE, isn’t that messed up?” and I laugh because truth is, I don’t mind anymore. It’s funny to answer with “From my parents” (which someone once heard as “From Paris,” making things that much more confusing). I love telling people where I’m from, and what I am, it’s great to have the opportunity to talk about my family — my Indian dad who was born and raised in Tanzania, my mom born in Germany, daughter of a German woman had a love affair with an American soldier during WWII, the grandfather I never met. It’s even more fun to confess a love of Miami bass and the 2 Live Crew (I grew up in Florida), admit that I’ve never been to an Indian wedding and hardly know a word of German. I’m so American, and it’s so funny at times, so fun. I’m lucky to live in oakland CA though, a place where being mixed is the norm and people usually ask their questions with the utmost consciousness. Sometimes the people who ask them even look like me!

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2 Responses to "Half Indian, Half German, totally American"
  1. barry irving says:

    …there is nothing ambiguous about your outer being…any one would say you are Indian. How you feel growing up here is another matter. You use Indian / German which are ethnicities. You then say totally American..which is
    culture / nationality…not the same. You are not alone in this confusion. Race terms are what is ambiguous and have contextual histories. White is a social construct not a Race…so called Whites are European Americans of differing nationalities and all those who pass for it!

  2. Wesley Abraham says:

    I have no clue if you will see this it or not, but our parents are almost exactly the same! My father is from india (raised in Kuwait) and my mother is also half german (raised in the united states). I never knew there was someone who was raised in such a similar situation as I was!

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