p>Imagine being asked over and over again, “What are you?” Everyone from strangers on the subway to my childhood dentist has chimed in with a guess. They make me feel as though the answer should define me, as though it is the most important thing about me. The problem is that I don’t really know the answer.
I grew up in a predominantly white town in the midwest, so the general public was perhaps even more intrigued by this mystery than it would have been if I lived in a metropolitan area. I didn’t quite look like them, but the answer to that often-repeated question wasn’t obvious, either. Was I white? Asian, Latina, or maybe a mix? The truth is that I was adopted as a baby, and I have a vague idea that I’m at least a little bit Latina, but I don’t feel Latina. I didn’t grow up with the language, food, or traditions that a “real” Latina would have, but I don’t look exactly like a white person, either. I am spoken to in Spanish, but I don’t know how to answer. I’m never sure which box to check when forms ask me my race.
I hope that one day, when someone asks, “what are you?” they’re wondering whether I’m kind, or a good listener, or a good friend (I am). Until then, I will keep answering, “I’m human, and you?”