Recently, there have been many pieces published reflecting the struggles of different minority groups on campus, and the response has been amazing. But, I’d like to argue that despite all this talk about race, we’ve forgotten one minority — my minority. Being bi-racial.
I am white. I was born in the suburbs of Detroit and have spent my whole life there. English is my first language and I can attempt to speak Spanish only because I’m in my fourth semester requirement. I share the same cultural views about the world as many other Americans, and I do have German, Irish, and English heritage, which I’m very proud of.
I am Asian — half Filipina, specifically — but I don’t share the same cultural views and experiences as my mom. While I love traditional Filipino foods and learning about my mom’s lifestyle in her village, I’ve never been to the Philippines. I talk to distant relatives in the Philippines who have known much more pain than I ever will. I can’t speak Tagalog, but I can tell you that “mahal kita” means “I love you,” and I know a couple of swear words as well.
I am two races, two ethnicities — a combination of two different worlds. Those two worlds have conflicted on many occasions and forced me to pick and choose my beliefs, but ultimately made me who I am. I am proud of my heritage, just as any other American would boast about their heritage, whether that’s Irish, Chinese, Nigerian or Mexican. But when it comes to race, I’m stuck in racial limbo. I’m both, but neither at the same time.
In conversations about race, bi-racial identities are forgotten. We are the true minority. Only 2.4 percent of Americans are bi-racial. But we’re clumped into other minority identities, which doesn’t allow us to fully express the experiences we’ve had. Half white, half Black. Half white, half Asian. Half Asian, half Black. Whatever combination, we’re left as outcasts, never fully fitting within either group and only grouped by what others perceive us as.
The bi-racial struggle is trying to fit in. We can label ourselves as Asian, Black, Latino, etc., but at the end of the day, those groups always recognize our white heritage. The same goes for trying to identify as white — it’s impossible because we can’t be fully accepted due to our minority background. But I can’t simply leave one to adopt the other. My dad had an impact on my life, as did my mom. Would I be doing an injustice to my upbringing by rejecting my white identity, or even worse, seem as if I didn’t value my dad? And as for my mom, with all her love and tenderness, would I inadvertently reject her and her culture by abandoning my Filipino background?
I refuse to subscribe to just one race. Being bi-racial is a part of me and a part of my story. In a society where we’ve divided ourselves upon race, bi-racial people like me are the ones who know what it means to be a minority and feel rejection. However, we’re pioneers in the sense because we see both sides for all its beauty and its flaws, and create the bridge between the two.
Megan McDonald is an LSA sophomore and assistant editorial page editor.