Ethnic Background

Topics: Race, Family, Ethnic group Pages: 2 (667 words) Published: October 30, 2007
I was born into a mixed family much like Tiger's. My mother's father was Chinese-American, orphaned by his birth-family and raised in the South. My mother's mother was African-American and, following the family legacy, she received a degree from Fisk University in Nashville, TN. My relatives were instrumental in the foundation of the Avery Normal Institute in Charleston, SC, an educational institute for African-Americans founded in 1865 (now associated with the College of Charleston). My mother grew up in a segregated society where choices were rarely available. She received her Master's degree in Library Science from HBC University. My father's family is of German/Scottish/Irish/Danish decent. When faced with racial classification forms, I often check every box that is representative of my family history and the home in which I was raised - Black/African-American, Asian-American and Caucasian. Selecting only one box would be denying my family's ethnic mix.

Often I have wished I had more predominantly "ethnic" physical characteristics such as darker skin or traditional Chinese folds in my eyelids, easily definable physical characteristics instead of my mixed features. In high school I traveled to Israel where many people would immediately speak to me in Hebrew assuming that I was Israeli. When I was living abroad in Finland, many Finns would assume I was Sami (Eskimo) and without hesitation, speak to me in Finnish. And traveling in South Korea, people would come up to me asking about my Asian heritage saying "You are Asian. Who is Asian in your family?" I was surprised to learn that it isn't only an American desire to classify ethnic identity, but a universal desire to categorize people by their race or ethnic background. I have been raised in a very happy family, a household complete with a mother, father and one sister, Rebecca. Our ethnic identity is best identified as an American melting pot.

I am always fascinated to meet people who are primarily one...
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