America was not always what it is today; a free country and a country proud of its many cultural differences. Like many are aware, it used to be a country founded on protestant and puritan beliefs that put the white man on a pedi stool. Not that I believe America is perfect at this point in time, for racism still lingers, and is actually very prominent in certain areas of the country today. But we have come tremendously far from our beginnings.
While watching a film in one of my cultural classes earlier this week, we as a class were able to take a first hand look into the lives of a few citizens living multiracial identities. We were introduced to the term Hapa, referring to someone who is half Asian and half Caucasian, and able to take a peak into the trials and tribulations of being a hapa in today’s society. We saw people who struggled to identify to a particular piece of their heritage and completely abandon the other. For in this search of self-identification it seemed far easier to associate with one race rather than two.
We met a few young people who struggled with their identity and attempted to be someone they were not. With stereotypes and false beliefs about certain cultures, many young adults felt pressured to disguise certain physical traits they had that affiliated them with a particular race. We met Hapas that made themselves look completely Caucasian, and others that made themselves appear entirely Asian. Whether it was with make-up, or with the style of clothes they wore, no particular individual wanted to be both races, but rather a hundred percent of one race. This was due to the fact that they would not receive full respect from either race because they did not share all physical aspects with either particular race. Even though these people were entirely individual and beautifully rare, it was not what they desired. They did not want to be unique, they wanted to fit the mold and blend into a race, as to not draw too much attention to themselves, and for it was normally negative attention. As these biracial children and young adults grew up, they also grew into their skin and began to appreciate their unique beauty for what it was. For it is beautiful, but hard to recognize at an age when everyone is judgmental and insecure. As a child we are in our most vulnerable state, and anything that differentiates us from the majority is a curse at the time.
In 2000 the census began including multiracial as an option when claiming ethnicity. This was a pivotal point in American history, for now we were more educated on the ethnic build of our country, and citizens could now claim their ethnicity more accurately, giving a better sense of belonging to those who may have felt left out for so long. In that year 2.4% claimed multiracial, going to show that the multiracial population was large, and ever growing.
We have come a long way from our original days as pilgrims to this great land; we have traveled long and winding roads both physically and socially. We have seen the legalization of interracial marriages, the inclusion of multiracial as an option on the census, and fewer attempts to pigeon hole Americans into certain races and associated stereotypes. For we are individuals, uniquely beautiful ones at that, so cheers to our differences, and cheers to acceptance in the coming days.
I believe all of this highlights how we are all beautiful parts of a divers whole, and how we are all individual pieces of earth’s multiracial scrapbook.