It’s me again. 😉 Back with another poem I performed at an Open Mic event in Madrid! I wanted to explain a little bit about the poem first, but if you don’t care for it, you’ll find the poem below!
Let me explain!
If you’re “mixed” or deemed “culturally ambiguous”. You’re familiar with the questions and comments:
“But you don’t look…(insert your culture(s) here)…”
“Oh! I thought you were from (insert country here that you nor your family are NOT from).”
“Where are you really from?
“You look (insert a race/ethnicity or culture that you don’t identify with).”
What is Cultural Ambiguity and being “Mixed”?
Cultural ambiguity is a clever concept constructed to describe someone you cannot determine a cultural/racial/ethnic origin or identity based on their appearance or speech.
To be “mixed” is to be born of parents of differing racial, cultural and ethnic identities or a mix of all three.
What is a hyphenated-American?
If you Google it, you’ll come across the dictionary definition, “an American citizen who can trace their ancestry to another part of the world, such as an African-American’. It can be problematic to some because it brings on a sense of “other-ing” or an intrinsic feeling of being alienated or not belonging where someone should feel otherwise… Many are proud to be a hyphenated American and you may see this reflected in social media, as well as across the blogging space.
Why do we categorize?
Most humans are innately curious and our brains are arguably one of the most powerful computers on the planet. A Google search with the best WiFi money can buy might take .65 seconds; but our brains can work even faster, processing at .13 seconds instead. We are surrounded by stimuli that could potentially overwhelm our brains if we didn’t know how to process them.
Take a “chair” for example, as my psychology professor Dr. Neuberg at ASU famously explained. When we see a chair, within milliseconds, we know that it’s for sitting, or other practical uses. We don’t have to think about it at all. As we go throughout life, we collect experiences, store away the information–good and bad– and maybe recall it or process it when we need it again. Our brain takes “shortcuts”, and sometimes we have to override them, especially if they can be harmful.
To OTHER Me…
When I was little—
My Filipino mom with her long straight beautiful jet black hair
didn’t know what to do
to tame or treat my huge thick and mixed curly hair
She tried buns and braids
Barrettes and a bow/
Combs, brushes, straighteners
And my natural fro
Tangles were a daily strife
they were in my hair and all over my life
My identity was tangled and
social isolation strangled
You’re Filipino?!? Wow I could not tell.
I am an alien among my people.
“You don’t “sound” or “look” black.”
I am an alien among my people.
Who are you to tell me my identity?
Let me show you the power of my Harvard degree
I am Filipino hyphen American and African hyphen American
Hyphenated, but American
But a hyphen is separating, and
Hyphenating is alienating
But the hyphen wasn’t the only one to other me.
Standardized tests, the census, society and even my own peers couldn’t see.
Don’t make me pick a side, I am not a dichotomy.
I wasn’t some biological anomaly.
For you to categorize and simplify monstrously,
Though prejudice isn’t a novelty
it shouldn’t be an existing adversity
I won’t let you categorize me
Because i’m here to tell you modestly
I appear ambiguous culturally
I am a biracial woman, phenomenally
I carry the blood of ancestors countries apart
I hold both cultures so dear to my heart.
I can make you Lumpia, pancit, sinigang and adobo
I can make you some ribs, corn bread, Mac and cheese and soul food.
I love my hair. It is black and Filipino.
I love my skin; it is black and Filipino.
I love my lips; they are black and Filipino.
And they speak a story unheard.
The biracial identity
Not meant to unnerve
But to show you two races together,
create beauty to preserve
Diversity is to be celebrated
Not torn apart and hated
So when you see someone who looks different,
I dare you to smile.
When you hear an immigrant struggling to be heard or understood,
I dare you to go the extra mile.
When you smell a new cuisine so sweet or savory,
try a new dish, it’ll be worthwhile
And when you taste the socialized pains of prejudice,
try not to profile.
You will touch the hearts of many,
with your culturally sensitive new style.
It’s okay to date outside of your culture, your religion, your race and your age.
Just look at this beautiful baby a black man and a Filipina made!