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Being Mixed in a World Divided by Race

I see race and ethnicity as an important aspect of who we are as people, however, notably, not our end-all-be-all. Nonetheless, I do see it as an essential part of our society. Absolutely not for drawing distinctions; simply a part of who we are. Another sense of identity for those lost in the world.

I was born to a father of Scottish descent and a mother born in South Korea. My mother was adopted from Seoul at a young age, less than two weeks old. Her adoptive parents are Irish and have a close connection to our culture there. My mother’s younger sister was adopted in Germany. The two of them and their parents, my grandparents, spent time in a number of European countries as my grandfather’s stationing in the Army changed, every year or so. To name a few, they stayed in Helsinki, Moscow (in the Soviet Union, interesting tidbit), and Budapest.

Plainly, my family is white. European, if we’re being technical. But my mother is not. The last time she was in Korea, she was nine. Nor does she speak a single word of the language. As I am my mother’s daughter, I am Korean as well. Are my mother and I still able to call ourselves Korean, then, by any sense of the word? I certainly identify as Scottish and Irish, but would I be able to identify as Korean if I so wanted to? If not only one, then both?

“You’re basically white.”

I’m given a lot of pressure from my peers (at a majority white school, I may add) to choose. More often than not, I’m pressured to choose to be white.

“You look more white, though.”

It doesn’t take a fool to realize that assuming that my default identity is white is extremely ignorant and borderline racist. To assume that my European genes take precedence over my Asian genes is to say that Europe and white take precedence over other races and ethnicities. This is something mixed-race people experience on the daily, unfortunately.

In my opinion, we shouldn’t be forced to choose. Because I am both. It is genetically impossible for me to be more white than Asian.

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