Entry 17: Getting Technical with your Ethnicity

 

I hate it when people go into the ‘nth percentage when it comes to the question of What’s your ethnic background?  Honestly, when I ask the question, I’m looking for a list that consists of maybe 4 things, max. So when people start getting all technical like…

Well, I’m like a 1/4 Irish, a 1/4 German, 1/3 French, and then my Great -Great Great-Great Grandfather was like a Shah of Sunset  or something, and also, I’m like… 1/16 Chinese  because one of my ancestors is from the Ming Dynasty, OH I’m like 1/32 Native American – I’m pretty sure my Grandmother from like 20 generations ago was like an Indian Princess. 

It is then that my eyes sort of glaze over and I’m like holy shit, that’s a lot of things. Then I begin to wonder why I even asked the question and while vow to never ask it again,  I always find myself asking that question again to make conversation.

But if you take me for example, I’m Filipino, (I know, surprise!) but I’m not even that great of a Filipino.  Sometimes, people will be like,  what is this dish called? or how do you say such and such in Filipino.. and I’m like… uhmm. I don’t know? In the midst of the Filipino, there is a mix Chinese and Spanish blood hidden, as is the case lot of other Filipinos.

So when someone asks, Are you Vietnamese? ” (because apparently, I look Vietnamese), my answer is usually, ” no – Filipino.” I don’t even go into the Chinese or the Spanish part of me because – a. I don’t even speak Chinese or Spanish and b.  I can’t even relate to the cultures.

Then the question I get when it is revealed that I was born in Hawaii: Are you Hawaiian? Can you speak Hawaiian?”

Which brings up another thing: How is it that if something has pineapple in it, it automatically becomes classified as a  “Hawaiian” dish? Put a pineapple with chicken, it’s Hawaiian chicken. Put strawberries, grapes, and melons on a kabob and it’s a regular fruit kabob, but put pineapple in it, then it becomes a Hawaiian kabob. Put a pineapple with Canadian bacon on pizza, and it’s a Hawaiian pizza, but if you just had the Canadian bacon, is it then just a Canadian pizza? I don’t know. I’ve never heard of anyone just wanting Canadian bacon on their pizza.

Anyways, I digress.

Maybe I would feel differently with people getting all technical about their background if I myself couldn’t identify with one culture or ethnicity.  The US is such a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities that have married together that’s something to be proud of. But  perhaps for some there exists this need to stand out or hold on to that the 1/64th of something in the midst of that fusion.

And that’s fine. I’m just saying, if it was me – I would keep to 4 things, because when you get into the 1/64 of something, it’s like honestly …do you really relate to the 1/64th of you that is a Chinese princess?  or the even lesser fraction of you that is a Neanderthal?

More than likely, no.

 

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Entry 17: Getting Technical with your Ethnicity

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