November is Puerto Rican Heritage Month, a time to acknowledge the past, act in the present and hope for the future. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, we have been wrestling with feelings of guilt, despair and anger.
“That baby is so white,” a stranger said aloud at the grocery store, alarmed at the sight of a dark Southeast Asian man carrying a pale baby girl. It was 1998, potentially 1999. I wish I had my own recollection of that day, but the “white baby” was me.
When people learn that I am half-Chinese the reaction is like watching someone figure out that math problem they had been stuck on: some mixture of a new revelation and old knowledge that they finally combined. It’s as if my race is some ambiguous thing to be discovered.
Last week, I was in an argument. Although no punches were thrown, I felt like I got slapped in the face a few times, but I thought I did the best I could. Even though I was ducking and weaving through the racist rhetoric, it still felt like I got my ass beat.