Reassessment with a dash of uncertainty

“Siempre supe que es mejor cuando hay que hablar de dos empezar por uno mismo” S. Isabel Mebarak Ripoll

"I always knew that when speaking about two it is better to start with oneself” A lot has been lost in that translation but you get the gist. 

Ed and Steph (my siblings) keep telling me to move to Los Angeles - their reasons are different from mine but convenient to my cause. See, here in Seattle the general lack of ethnic, gender, sexual identity, religious and ideological diversity and parity at times is a bit too much for me. If I need a fix I can always spend a day down in Rainier Valley and reset. Some people will say that diversity in Seattle is better seen by neighborhood in what they like to call “block groups”, but this is another way of showing that some sort of segregation is still in place. This can either be self-imposed or the result of class/racial lines that to this day different groups are not allowed or willing to cross. Local Caucasians may say that they are very progressive and pro-diversification but at the end of the day there’s only so much they can tolerate from those that come from different cultures, and vice versa. (Going back home to Magnolia after a hard day of slacktivism or pretentivism is very comforting.)

US vs THEM

Is the music they play too loud because it isn’t Bach? Is the food they cook lacking soul? But their food is so smelly! Why are they so loud when talking? They use big words to be condescending, Ugh! they move too sexual when dancing, well they don’t know how to dance because they can’t give it their all! 

Keep it coming.

Point is, if I am truly serious about my research then I cannot do all of it here. I have to go where the melting already started. Seattle just started dancing and L.A, most ethnically diverse city in the United States, has dancer’s feet – broken down and bruised, with black nails but ready for the show. 

How I am perceived when in LA vs. Seattle: When I've said "I am from Brooklyn" to an Angelino, 95% of the time they take that as my final answer. In Seattle, the answer apparently begs another question 99% of the time, “but where are you really from?” – I cannot possibly be American with my looks, see. To save myself more questions I just spill out everything as fast as I can. 

Anyone who knows me will say I am proud of every ethnicity that makes up my DNA – I am mulatta, mestiza, Semitic and I don’t apologize. My sister joked the other day that we are the result of an ethnic orgy (some Hispanics think she’s half Japanese/half white because of the way she looks… sleeping genes, go figure). We get used to this most of the time but it can cause identity issues that at worst become insecurities. In Colombia we are gringos judíos, nevermind we were raised in a very Catholic country, within a family that is mostly Catholic, and went to Catholic school. {I want to note that American Jews have the privilege of disavowing their Jewishness and still be as American as apple pie. Jews in Latin America are never trusted to be part of their country because their Jewishness is not about religion - it is about ethnicity. We are never allowed to forget that and therefore have a different take on what being “Jewish” means.} In the USA, we present ourselves as Colombian because it is the easiest answer and the identity with which, at the end of the day, we feel most comfortable. And still… we are sometimes not believed when we talk about our origins (you can’t be that mixed!). We just become too much for the boxes where others want to put us in and we end up being too round to fit in that square.

What do ethnocultural hybrids look like?

Image courtesy of National Geographic

There are days when me and my siblings look more ambiguous than others and get mixed results – people who are fascinated, people who fetishize our mixed background to the point of exoticization, and people who seem offended we exist. Whatever! Humans have been mixing since we broke things off with Neanderthals and  have been working our way up to being 50 shades of beige. 

I am just one of the many mixed people living out there and so happy to know that artists and others, more creative and talented than me, have a beautiful outlet to expose the complexities of our kind. I just have to go wherever they are.

A. Iaroc