Mixed-race teens talk about identity

Mixed-race teens talk about identity

The Mash: For teens, by teens

Kaylah Sosa
Homewood-Flossmoor High School, Flossmoor, Illinois

Chris Pieper
Whitney Young Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois

Megan Fu
Buffalo Grove, Buffalo Grove, Illinois

Rosemary Anguiano
Whitney Young Magnet High School, Chicago, Illinois

The Mash is a weekly newspaper and Web site that is here to serve you, the Chicago-area teenager.

The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students. Our student contributors influence most of the paper’s coverage, so it’s a publication and Web site created for you, about you and, most important, by you.

Mixed-race teens share their personal perspectives on how they view themselves—and how others view their mixed-race heritage. These essays were part of the cover story, “Outside the box,” about how mixed-race teens identify themselves on college applications in the Nov. 15, 2012 issue of The Mash.

I get two common questions in my life. One: “Are you related to Sammy Sosa?” And two: “You’re mixed, right?” The former is annoying, and I would like to make a public plea for people to stop asking.  The latter is a bit more complicated. Yes, I’m –mixed. I know I don’t look it. You don’t need to point it out.

My dad’s Mexican and my mom is black. The color of my skin could fool you, but the defined curls of my shiny, long hair might give it away. My dad calls me a chameleon. I went to a mostly Hispanic elementary school, and when I was around his side of the family, I looked Mexican. But when I was over with my mom’s family, or in a mostly black school like I am now, I look black. It’s kind of fun being able to play both fields.

When someone asks the oddly worded question, “What are you?” I reply with “Black and Mexican.” That ruffles a few people’s feathers. “You look black,” people sometimes tell me. “If you look black, you are. None of that mixed garbage.”

But by embracing my Latina heritage, I’m not shirking my African American heritage. I grew up with a Mexican father in a Mexican neighborhood. As far as I know, that qualifies me to be on the Latina team. Apart from the ignorance of everyday encounters, I’ve found my ethnicities coming heavily into play while filling out college apps. Race? Black/African American. Hispanic or not? Hispanic. I could put “mixed” and go through the whole song and dance, but I’d rather not. If they ask about Hispanic heritage, I just say I have it…

Read the entire article here.

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