I’m standing over a line, with my left foot on one side, and my right foot on the other side.
I’m “half-way in, half-way out”.
That’s how it feels when you are biracial.
My dad is White. People always ask me “what kind of White?” But the truth is I really don’t know where his ancestors are all from. You know those people who can break down their heritage into percentages? (Oh I’m 25% Mexican, 12% Spanish, 10% Portuguese…) I’m not one of them. The one vague piece of information I have is that his people are originally from Ireland. I have no idea when this immigration occurred, who they were… nada.
My mom is Filipino. And her culture has a huge effect on me. Whenever I mention my family, I’m referring to her side of the family. They’re the only family who lives in the same State as us, so we aren’t so close to my dad’s side.
Although I’ve been raised with this Filipino culture: eating a majority of their food, listening to their language, watching TFC, on the outside I look anything but Filipino.
People are always surprised when I tell them that I’m half Filipino. They tell me “I never would have guessed!”
And growing up, I was always painfully aware of my height. I’m 5 ft 8 in, for a white girl that’s pretty standard. But for a Filipino, that’s huge. Ginormous even. At family parties, family friends would always exclaim about how tall I was, and a grandma even said one time “This one is going to be a 6-footer!”.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m very thankful for my heritage and for the different views it has given me about the world. I also feel like with my experiences: being White, raised in America, and having non-Filipino friends helps me explain different points of view to my family.
But other times I feel very lost. My Filipino family wants me to be very proud of my heritage, and I am. But I can’t just fit in with the mainstream Filipino crowd. People really do judge you on looks. Because I don’t fit in physically, people will often question who I am and why I am there. And because I understand basic Tagalog, I always know when they are talking about me. It’s embarrassing. They always describe me as “puti” or “mataas”. (White or tall).
When I explain to different people that I’m half Filipino, half White, these are the general reactions I will get.
When I tell White people that I’m half Filipino, they often categorize me as “Asian” or “you must be really smart”.
On the other side, Filipino people say “Wow I never would’ve guessed! You’re so white and tall! Americanized! Meztisa!”
There are a lot of benefits to being biracial. I feel lucky to experience two different cultures at the same time, while others may only experience one. I get a different perspective of the world, being shaped by my family and my individual experiences in America. I get to grow and challenge thoughts of my elders. (ex: My aunt ignored me for two years because I had a boyfriend. I know that not all Filipinos are this way, she’s just kind of weird, but it’s a big cultural difference between most Americans. Most Filipinos I know are more conservative than most Americans).
But I also think it’s a big deal that people will judge you based on physical appearances or racial heritage. In order to fit into a “certain group”, you have to meet their physical criteria. Or knowledge of culture.
Regardless of what people say, at the end of the day, I’m still half Filipino, half White. It’s in my DNA, and it’s not something that’s verified by my physical attributes or whether I can speak a foreign language. It’s also not verified by my GPA or whether I take off shoes when I visit someone’s house.
I don’t need to cross the line and enter one category or the other. I am both, and I am proud. Standing in between is just fine for me.