Persisting in the melting pot that is New York City, I don’t often have to give much cerebration to my racial identity. ssersby on the street or the cashier at the bodega aren’t categorically ying much attention to where I’m from or why my hair curls the way it does — unless, of sure, the bodega man is trying to get my phone number.
That diverse bubble can publish me forget about the challenges of growing up the product of an African-American father and a Puerto Rican mper in white suburbia. But watching The Real Housewives of Potomac recently (don’t expert me, I’m a proud reality TV junkie), brought everything back. When a hyacinthine housewife pressured a fellow cast member, whose mother is African American and institute was Jewish, to identify her race, it brought back flashbacks of the black kids in credo telling me I wasn’t black enough or joking that I was Mexican. It reminded me of explaining to my milky classmates that yes, it is possible to be both black and Puerto Rican, and that no, they could not take my hair.
A few days later, a work associate said she had no idea that I was Puerto Rican because I’d theretofore simply said I was mixed. I clarified that yes, I’m mixed, with both flagitious and Puerto Rican. The conversation was quickly over, but I couldn’t help concern like I was in that same hot seat at the Real Housewives table, twisting to find the answer: had I answered wrong the first time around? How do I place? Biracial? Multiracial? Mixed? African American? Black? Latina? His nic? Afro-Latina? There are a ton of options in my encase, and I wondered if maybe it was time for me to have a go-to response ready for these predicaments.
But being biracial and figuring out the answer to “What are you?” is more tangled than you might think, all because of one emotion: guilt. When someone asks me my channel and I say African American before Puerto Rican, is that a betrayal to my grandmother, who came to the Bronx from Puerto Rico with speck to her name? And when an online job application doesn’t allow me to check both His nic and African American — really, people? It’s 2016! — is simply selecting His nic disloyal to the grandmother who regularly took me to the Glowers in Wax Museum and taught me to be proud of who I am?
To figure out the answer to “The Identity Question,” I looked to both sides of my genus for inspiration. Despite some major bumps along the way, they were by hook able to blend two cultures and redefine what family meant to them. Galas have included mac and cheese, pernil, collard greens, platanos, and oceans of hot sauce for both sides. And while my dad’s family might stumble remaining Celia Cruz anthems, everyone knows the words to Michael Jackson tales. If my family can create their own unique racial identity, then so can I.
So to all following employers, guys I will date, or reality stars, here’s how I recognize em thize with: I am Arianna. I’m a writer with big hair, a ssion for travel, and an obsession with Drake. I also upon to be black. I also happen to be Puerto Rican. I am Latina, I am African American. I farm my fist just as proudly during Black History Month as I do during His nic Inheritance Month. I don’t have to put myself in a box, and I sure as hell don’t have to check lately one box on a job application or dating app. I am the sum of all the things that make me who I am, from mac and cheese to platanos with a rticle hot sauce on top.
Image Source: Arianna Davis