Monday, July 8, 2013

A Half in a Whole Grain World

So, in recent days, some of you might have seen the new Cheerios commercial. If you haven’t, let me describe it for you: There is a little girl talking to her white mother about the delicious cardboard goodness of Cheerios. Then, the girl goes out and gives Cheerios to her dad, who is black. This of course means (if you are squeamish, you may want to stop reading now)….*dramatic music*…that the child is biracial. What?!

Of course, this being America, the land of equality and opportunity, there was a lot of public outcry about the commercial. How could Cheerios portray an interracial couple with a biracial kid? This is AMERICA. That just doesn’t happen. Or does it?

According to studies, by the year 2050, kids of mixed race will outnumber kids who can claim to be descended from one race. Say, WHAT?

So, why do I even care about any of this? Well…here’s the shocking truth…I’m biracial. I know. It’s a horrifying reality. Mixed race people. We do exist. And the even crazier part is that most of us don’t even try to hide it. Some of us are even kind of proud of it – and some of us are really proud of it. However, I can honestly say that no kid of mixed race has had any easy time of it, and most of us have even had times when we really didn’t like being mixed race.

The first time I decided that being of mixed race kind of sucked was when I was in the first grade. The week of standardized tests came and my teacher passed out the little magic bubble sheets that would tell us all if we met the government’s standards for intelligence (you can tell I love standardized tests, but that’s another blog). On those sheets, you are supposed to answer what your race is and you have your standard answers: Caucasian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, Asian, etc. Of course, my little hand went in the air and I asked the teacher if I could fill in more than one of these bubbles. Kindly, she shook her head “no” and told me to just choose one. Well, that is quite an identity crisis for a six year old. Which race did I feel more like? Which one did I choose? Which part of me was more important? I don’t remember what I decided but I remember thinking that it was ridiculous that I couldn’t be what I really was.

Then, in the fifth grade, something happened. Added to the regular list of races was the option: OTHER. This, I remember marking. I also remember feeling like that meant I was something else, something so un-special that I didn’t even deserve a title. An outsider, someone who didn’t fit in. Oh well. That’s cool, right? Every kid entering middle school wants to stick out. Ha!

I suffered through some teasing in middle school and high school about how being half Asian (not telling which half though, haha) somehow boosted my grades. It had nothing to do with my work ethic, of course. Then, there was the general run of the mill racial slurs that I usually ignored.

Finally, I graduated from high school and entered college, where my race wouldn’t be such a big deal, right? My first semester I made friends with several other mixed race kids, but I faced a new problem. The school where I graduated from, there hadn’t been a ton of Asian kids so I was a welcome addition to their little group. In college, I wasn’t Asian enough to hang out with the Asian kids, but I was still enough of a novelty to the white kids that hanging out with me was considered very democratically open of them. (Personally, I think it was more democratically open of me. I was the one who had to deal with dumb remarks like: Oh, you’re half Asian? I love Panda Express! Or – my personal favorite: Oh, you’re half Asian? I saw Kung Fu Panda and I can totally eat with chopsticks!)

And then there’s dating. Have I ever mentioned that I went to school at college renowned for its Agricultural program (i.e., lots of white people)? Well I did. This means that there are a lot of opportunities for me to date nice guys from small town (read again, i.e., more white people!). Many of these guys admitted to me that one of the reasons they wanted to date me was because they had never dated an Asian before. But, thankfully for them, I wasn’t TOO Asian so their slightly racist parents wouldn’t freak out entirely. Then, there were the Asian boys. Many of them told me that they didn’t want to date me because I wasn’t Asian enough, or, I was too Asian and they wanted to date a white girl. I even met boys who were also half Asian and told me the same thing – either I was too Asian or too white. So, needless to say, I am always leery of a guy who shows interest in me because I’m not sure if he’s interested in my perky personality, incredible intellect, and beautiful face and body, or just interested in adding a novelty to his long list of women that he has dated.

Of course, some of you are thinking: Yes, all of this is terribly sad, but because of your minority status you are eligible for lots of other scholarships. True. Let’s say “yay” for the one perk of being biracial.

Well, there’s the scholarship thing, and the fact that the biracial kids are adorable. Just saying. I mean, let’s look at some biracial celebrities: Nathan Adrian (Olympic Swimmer), Tiger Woods (golfer and part time pimp), Apolo Ohno (Olympic Speed Skater), Halle Berry, and Johnny Depp (if you don’t know who this is, you should probably just go die now)…all of these people are good looking! I mean, honestly, biracial babies are super cute and grow up to be good-looking adults. Not that I’m bragging or anything…

But really, America, get over it. Mixed race people are here, have been here for years, and we aren’t going anywhere. We were here before Cheerios made a commercial where you see a fairly typical family in America, and we are going to be here long after that commercial has been forgotten. And in case you have trouble recognizing who we are: we’ll be the ones who are busy getting scholarships and making cute babies


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