Saint Paul, MN.
I grew up northern CA in a very middle class well to do with family that was racially homogeneous with a strong catholic upbringing. Some years after my dad passed away, my mom remarried to an Asian American man who had three children of his own- our families merged – my brother, mom and I joined with them and experienced the cultural customs including food, family past times, historical narratives from family members with lived experience, and a racially diverse upbringing through my teen and young adult years. This for me was how began to come aware of how the way I looked played a role in the way I was treated and thought of in my community, and society as a whole. My stepdad would constantly remind me “you’re privileged” but never mentioned my complexion- he instead would say “my kids are color blind.” I would often think about what the heck this meant within the context of my personal experiences, and how someone who never even got a chance to know his dad before he died, and grew up in a single-parent family wehere grandparents would constantly have to pitch in was considered privileged. About five years ago, I met my partner and we began dating. She is first generation Mexican American- and her parents immigrated her from a border town in Mexico in the 1980s so she could be born here and experience a higher standard of living. We soon took our relationship to the next level, fell in love and had a kid while finishing our degrees. After spending significant amount of time with her family and learning the Spanish language, cultural customs, and taking trips to Mexico, the significance of skin tone and societal privilege, in addition to access to resources and relative status in the world began to take on a new meaning for me. It also begin to shape my view in a more nuanced way, and becoming familiar with intersectionality, and diversity, and to what extent these factors at play out for my daughter who is of two different backgrounds, I’d like to think she embodies these best of both her mother and I. I recently graduated with my masters degree in clinical social work, which was a challenging program and also stretched my world views further from a professional and personal standpoint. The importance of seeing through different lenses and experiences from people who also do not look like me, and are of different cultural and racial/ethnic backgrounds I had not yet had the opportunity to learn about prior to moving to Minnesota. I consider myself to be much more conscious and aware, and sensitive to the nuances of race, culture,diversity and the relative status and privileges that come with it, and how the perceived power differences affect me daily in my profession. For someone like me, embracing more of an intersectional perspective and skills, as well as a healthy eagerness to learn can benefit me in my personal life at home with my blended family.