[Fill in the color] enough for you?

MirrorI ran across two interesting posts today at Stereohyped, via Racialicious. In a nutshell, both posts are written by multi-racial people who talk about their “black experiences.” The guy, who is a quarter black, recounts the various incidents of rejection by both blacks and whites. The girl talks about the role her color played in various school scenarios (like a field trip to a plantation and boys at her mostly white high school).

From reading both these accounts, and considering my own experiences as a Filipino-American woman and my husband experiences…it occurs to me that people are dumb.

For one thing, I think that when most people look in the mirror, they never look like what they think they should look like. That’s partly the fault of the media and partly our own perceptions. But how much of that perception is because of who we surround ourselves with? I’m not talking about high school, I’m talking about college and beyond, when you choose your friends outside of the usual comfort zones like proximity to where we live.

I remember once talking a friend of mine in junior high about our respective hair. She is black (and still in contact with me via Myspace) and of course, I am Filipino. She mentioned that she only washes her hair once a week. My curiosity was piqued, but I didn’t push the issue — it felt rude. Should it have felt rude? Would she have become offended if I’d asked why she washed her (black) hair once a week? I’ll probably never know.

The Los Angeles area is very surface-diverse. Statistics say its diverse, and yes, the region is home to huge ethnic populations, like the Armenians in Glendale, the Cambodians in Long Beach and of course, Mexicans and other Latino Americans all over the county. Unfortunately, all the different ethnicities in the county are very prone to segregating themselves, and thus makes it hard for, say, a Filipino to understand much about black culture. But even if we were to somehow mix, the way my black friend and I did…how can there be understanding if questions are met with hostility? Then again, where does natural curiosity and misunderstanding stop and ignorance and criticism begin? What came first — the chicken or the egg?

Man. I fear for my future children, truly I do. I have no doubt they will be beautiful, but I fear they’ll be confused — first, by my husband and I, who are both very proud of our respective heritages and desire for them to be immersed in both cultures; and second, by the world, who will lob ignorant questions like “what are you?” and “where are your parents from?” — both questions I’ve fielded myself many times.

Oh, and don’t get me started with how Filipinos who don’t know my future children may treat them. *sigh* My sisters and I used to get ribbing from our cousins — our COUSINS — who used to say we acted white. Just because we spoke well, did well in school and loved to read, we were acting white. I can’t wait for the day when speaking well, doing well in school and a love for reading becomes acting like we live in the 21st Century.