Middle Eastern ancestry. Asian? African? White?

Lauren Mooney
Elk Grove, CA

As children, my mother always referred to us as Lebanese Leprechauns. She was first generation American, of hard-working Lebanese immigrants. My father was of Scots-Irish decent; his family having immigrated several generations earlier. American first and foremost, both parents also made sure we knew about the cultures of our ancestors. Growing up we had friends and family of many different races and cultures; and hearing accented English (as well as Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Japanese & German) spoken was commonplace. We knew America was the great “melting-pot” and assumed most people’s homes were like ours. We soon learned otherwise. In elementary school I was chided by white classmates for associating with black and hispanic classmates. In high-school I was asked by a white classmate why I was hanging out with “sand niggers” at lunch time. I told him I found the term “sand-ni***r” offensive, that he was an ignorant racist and, oh by the way… the people he was referring to were my cousins. Since then I’ve discovered that many people do not consider Arabs or persons of middle eastern decent to be “white”. Sometimes considered to be “south Asians” like Indians or Pakistani, others say African. When asked, I say “other”. I’ve always felt I was a product of the melting-pot.

 

Tweets by Michele Norris