A year into our relationship, Matt finally revealed why he had never introduced me to his family: “Once, a black and white couple walked by my grandfather and me on the street, and he turned to me and said, ‘That’s just not right.’”
Matt was from Ashland, Kentucky, a small town where almost everyone was white. All of his relatives had either brown or dirty blonde hair, green or blue eyes. I had black hair and brown eyes.
Before he moved to California, he had only known two Asian people — Sam, a wealthy study-abroad student from Seoul, Korea; and Derek, a half-white, half-Japanese boy, whom everyone in town identified as strictly Asian.
When Matt and I had first started seeing each other, I often feared that he liked me only because, to him, I was a rare sight. His comments about my physical features often triggered that same concern, but I put it out of my mind. I didn’t want to think about it.
The same day he told me about his grandfather, he invited me to celebrate July 4th at his house because his parents always had a large family reunion during that time. “You would get the most face time with everyone,” Matt said. I said yes only because I didn’t know how to say no.
Within two months, I was sitting at an airport in Kentucky with a suitcase filled with my most conservative clothes and shoes. When I finally arrived at his house, his parents greeted me at the door with a hug. Matt’s family showed me around the house and took me out for ice cream after dinner. I smiled when they looked over at me and laughed when they made jokes.
But later that night, in bed, I kept cell phone propped up on the pillow next to me. I didn’t call home, but I needed to feel like I could.
Matt’s parents were polite and kind, but I knew their kindness was not completely sincere. We had almost met once before, when they had flown out to southern California for vacation. Matt had invited me to join the three of them at the beach, but his father told him that it was unnecessary for them to meet me.
I was already packed and ready to go when Matt told me that it would be best if I stayed behind.
On July 4th, Matt took me to a family reunion potluck at his uncle’s house. His aunt and uncle greeted me in the same friendly manner.
His relatives complimented me on my “exotic” looks. I wanted to frown, but instead, I smiled and thanked them.
When we walked into the living room, I immediately lost myself in the crowd. Everyone was white and towering over me. Although I had grown up in a predominantly white community, I had never felt more aware of my race than I did at that moment.
I reached over for Matt’s hand, but he gently pushed mine aside and said, “Not here.”
When his grandparents finally arrived, they greeted me with handshakes instead of hugs. Matt generously introduced me to his grandparents and other relatives as his “friend.”
We spoke with a number of people who could not seem to remember my name, even if I had introduced myself a minute before. Conversation was often directed toward Matt instead of me. He didn’t notice and continued. I stood by his side at the party, but I had never felt more distant from him.
Later at the party, Matt talked to his relatives about his negative experiences at college. Matt said that he’d felt marginalized by our school because he was white. He didn’t think minorities should be treated better in college because that wasn’t how the “real world” worked.
I was stunned by his comments. He seemed to have forgotten that I was part of this minority.
I turned to him and spoke out. I tried to explain that moving beyond the status quo was the whole point, that our college wanted to empower marginalized communities by providing students with opportunities that may not otherwise be available.
Matt looked at me with disgust.
He ignored me and continued to defend his point of view. I deferred to his opinion and stopped talking.
When we left the party, Matt told me that he thought it all went well. His parents agreed. I nodded, even forced a smile, but when we arrived at their house, I said my goodnights quickly, rushed off to my room, and closed the door. I heard Matt and his mom in the hallway talking quietly.
Part of me wanted to open the door, pull his mother aside and ask her every question running through my head: What was I doing wrong? What should I have talked about? Was our relationship destined to fail?
I waited until the hallway was silent before I turned off the lights and got in bed. I knew things would not end well, but I tried to put it out of my mind.
When our relationship finally ended, I struggled because I’d given up so much of my identity to accommodate his.
I didn’t know how to define myself without him.
But I realize now that our relationship didn’t fail simply because he was white and I was Asian. It failed because we had different values systems.
Although Matt did not use racial slurs against me or tell me I was unequal because I’m Asian, he had racial biases that prevented him from seeing people of color as the same as him. He didn’t think minorities should be afforded equal opportunities because he benefited from white privilege and wanted to maintain that. He viewed me as an exception, someone who could pass as white, even though his family didn’t.
But I’m not white. I don’t identify as white or as a member of the “model minority.” I don’t want to pass or be privy to conversations supporting white privilege.
I know this now, but back then, I was too afraid to speak up, and too afraid to be alone.
These days, I am in a much better place. I’m in a healthy relationship with a person I love who accepts me for me.
It took me a long time to get here, but I know exactly who I am now.
I no longer waste my time on people who judge others based on the color of their skin, and I will never, ever allow myself to compromise my identity for a relationship again.
Monday, July 7 - 12 noon
Downtown Federal Building, 300 N. Los Angeles St.
Central Americans and Allies call on President Obama to Rescind his call to Fastrack-Deportation of Minors and to Divert $2 billion away from Militarizing the Border
In response to the current humanitarian crisis evidenced by the unprecedented number of Central American child migrants seeking refuge in the United States,Southern California based organizations will protest President Obama’s harmful policies towards refugee children on Monday, July 7 at 12:30pm at the Downtown Los Angeles Federal Building.
As U.S. citizens, residents, concerned civilians, organizations, community, legal experts, and families of the detained and deported, we have a moral and legal responsibility to demand that the United States government halt traumatizing and further damaging the already scarred lives of these child migrants. We demand that the children be reunited with their families, that deportations stop, and that we take humanitarian –rather than ruthless– steps towards solving this humanitarian crisis.
WHO: Human Rights Alliance for Child Refugees and Families includes local organizations, families, and legal experts concerned with the treatment and rights of Central American child migrants
WHERE: Downtown LA Federal Building
300 North Los Angeles Street Los Angeles, CA 90012
WHAT: PROTEST/RALLY/PRESS CONFERENCE IN SUPPORT OF CHILD REFUGEES
WHEN: Monday, July 7, 2014. 12:00 PM
PLEASE DISTRIBUTE THIS INVITATION WIDELY
Here’s to the security guards who maybe had a degree in another land. Here’s to the manicurist who had to leave her family to come here, painting the nails, scrubbing the feet of strangers. Here’s to the janitors who don’t even fucking understand English yet work hard despite it all. Here’s to the fast food workers who work hard to see their family smile. Here’s to the laundry man at the Marriott who told me with the sparkle in his eyes how he was an engineer in Peru. Here’s to the bus driver, the Turkish Sufi who almost danced when I quoted Rumi. Here’s to the harvesters who live in fear of being deported for coming here to open the road for their future generation. Here’s to the taxi drivers from Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt and India who gossip amongst themselves. Here is to them waking up at 4am, calling home to hear the voices of their loved ones. Here is to their children, to the children who despite it all become artists, writers, teachers, doctors, lawyers, activists and rebels. Here’s to Western Union and Money Gram. For never forgetting home. Here’s to their children who carry the heartbeats of their motherland and even in sleep, speak with pride about their fathers. Keep on.
i wouldn’t say that these practices have been dead for hundreds of years (like there are Klamath River tribes that have always had at least a few women with traditional tattoos, to the best of my knowledge), but they definitely are not common the way they used to be. cool to see women revitalizing these traditions, and awesome to see our indigenous Maori relatives across the ocean helping them do that.After hundreds of years, more Northwest Native American women are returning to the cultural face markings traditional to their tribes.
(I’m sorry I’m submitting this on anonymous I just don’t feel comfortable giving out these details of my family history and experiences with my url attached).
For the purposes of this discussion I have lived in West Africa and Europe, and I’m mixed (yes that is how I identify) with African and Afro-Latinx. I identify as an ethnically mixed mono-racial black person.
I, like the Filipino/Indian submission I am feeling incredibly angry and hurt at the things Jay has said. Growing up I know for my sibling especially they has light skin, black, blonde and red hair, they sticks out like a sore thumb when they’re with our family, their identity issues are valid, their experiences are valid and their identity as a mixed person is valid, and I won’t let anyone invalidate that ever. They has also been bullied by people including our close family members for the shape of her eyes (which I guess can be attributed to some distant native ancestry we have) and gets called ch*nk constantly. For me and my other siblings it was the opposite we have dark skin and kinky hair, whenever we talk about our afro-latinx side people actually laugh in our faces and tell us there is no way dark people like us are good enough to be latinx. I used to be too scared to talk about that side of my heritage because I was sick of people arguing with me about where I am from, or telling me that I’m just black and I am just trying to be special (despite the fact that I have never disputed being black on both sides). The prejudice within my family is immense too and we have effectively been exorcised and disowned because we’re not good enough for our afro-latinx relatives. This is the reality of our lives you are belittling and it is incredibly hurtful.
Personally for me I am also in a relationship with a black person of another ethnicity (they are mixed ethnicty as well), and between us we have three cultures and six languages to pass down to our children. We are constantly talking about how to deal with these issues and how to balance our ties to our heritages so we can help any children we have form an identity, If our kids wanted to identify as mixed would you deny them too? My African’s family discrimination towards my partner is huge and it is solely on the basis of his ethnicity, they do not care that we are both black! My family have threatened me because of our relationship and tried to force me to end our relationship.
Having said all this I am also aware that multiracial people face unique issues that I as a monoracial person (even though I am multiethnic) can’t quite fully understand. Our struggles overlap and I feel a sense of solidarity with multiracial people but they are not exactly the same. I also recognize that multiracial people face unique issues and that’s why blogs like this are so important. I have been quietly following this blog for a long time, because I identify with the experiences (not all as I am not multiracial but a lot of them). Now I’m not sure what to do, I feel like I should unfollow because you guys don’t even recognise my identity as valid but I feel attached to this blog also. I
We don’t want you to unfollow. We’re still talking about how to reconcile the whole matter. We never said monoracial multiethnic POC don’t face discrimination or identity issues. But this blog is primarily for multiracial people. Maybe it’ll change but currently we are not equipped for monoracial multiethnic persons. It’d be unfair to everyone if we suddenly changed our focus. Throughout this entire discussion no one has ever said that monoracial multiethnic POC could start their own blog. We’ve historically allowed people such as transracial adoptees to interact with us because they haven’t had their own space and like monoracial multiethnic persons, we have a lot in common. But we all have out own areas that are unique or more difficult or more common for each of us. We all need people and spaces with people who understand that for personal experience. There are many issues to discuss for this topic. The usage of the word mixed to mean mixed race is definitely US centric. I’ll have to get used to the fact that people outside the US and/or people who are X generation immigrants use the term differently. I’m sorry that I spoke out of complete ignorance but going forward I’ll say “mixed race” because honestly, as you can tell, I know little to nothing about social issues, especially ethnic issues outside the US. To be frank, You may feel a sense of a solidarity with multiracial people but I still don’t know if I can let my guard down, especially when monoracial multiethnic people are coming here and basically demanding that we accept them without argument or discussion. I have one black parent and one white parent. They are complete opposites in the racial hierarchy in every way in the entire world and somehow I exist. I’m not saying my feelings are right but isn’t it possible neither of us are wrong? Despite my personal feelings, I’ll continue to be open to hearing people out, especially those who aren’t tied to the US. But please do not keep insisting that multiracial people need to accept everything monoracial multiethnic persons say without question. — Jay (Ps when saying monoracial multiethnic, I mean POC. White people, this discussion isn’t about or for you.)