I am Caucasian, of Irish, English, German, Dutch, Scottish and Welsh descent. I have traced my genealogy, tracking where my ancestors immigrated from when they entered the US, and though I have had ancestors who came over during the 1500s, the countries above come up in their countries of origin with surprising regularity. And I’ve not even found any First American ancestry in my family tree to make things more interesting (and a genetic test that my dad took confirmed that he at least is overwhelmingly Anglo-Saxon with no trace of American Indian, though we do have some Neanderthal and Denisovan, so perhaps my ancestors weren’t as stodgy stick to your own kind as they seem!). My husband, Andy’s, parents immigrated from the Philippines, which is its own mixing ground of ethnicities. Andy has ancestors from Spain, China, Saudi Arabia, and, naturally, the Philippines.
I appear white, with pale skin that burns under this hot Texas sun, and dark blonde hair with red highlights and brown eyes. Andy appears racially ambiguous, and when not subjected to the rather insensitive question of “what are you?” people tend assume he is Mexican. His eyes are brown, his hair is black and wavy, and his skin tan. Overall the video below is a rather accurate depiction of what he runs into when he meets people.
Given the area we are in, we don’t turn too many heads by being a mixed couple. While mixed marriages are not the norm, they are also not uncommon. Occasionally we experience someone who is shocked to learn we are together or an outburst of racism, but for the most part people take us in stride.
Unlike a lot of Asian countries that place value of ethnic purity, the Philippines is already very mixed, so my dating Andy didn’t cause any waves among his family because of my race. Many of his cousins are half Caucasian, and his sister had already married her white husband and had two children with him when I came into the picture.
For my progressive parents it wasn’t an issue. My maternal grandfather was leery at first, but won over by how nice Andy is. My dad’s parents had some connections to the Philippines. My grandmother’s father had opened a university there and my grandfather was stationed there when he was in the army, so neither or them were bothered by it.
Having mixed race children in many ways has exemplified how flimsy our conceptions of race are to me. While I was expecting my children with Andy to have black hair, for instance, like Andy’s half-white relatives, we were pleasantly surprised by the fact that while Buddy was born with black hair, he inherited my red highlights, and even has three cheese blonde hairs on his head. In fact when the light hits his hair at the right angle, he appears to be a redhead. Like Buddy, Sissy also has black hair, but with brown and blonde highlights, and often appears as a brunette because of them.
Buddy looks like the perfect facial mesh of Andy and me. Sissy looks like a lot of people on my mom’s side of the family and Andy’s Spanish grandmother. We somehow managed to hit the mark where, if I’m out alone with them, people assume they’re Caucasian, but if Andy is out alone with them, people assume that they are whatever they assume Andy is. With the exception of one time where someone told me with a confused look on their face that my children look Chinese, I’ve never gotten the rude “where did you adopt them from?” questions and Andy has never been accused of kidnapping his own children.
And, while I put on both of their birth certificates that they are biracial, Buddy’s pediatrician marked him as Caucasian in his notes, even though he had met Andy. One time when Buddy was about a year old my doctor asked a question about race for genetic information and was stunned to learn that Buddy is multiracial. This stuck with him, though, and when Sissy was born he put her down as Hawaiian/Pacific Islander in his notes. So on Buddy’s medical records he’s Caucasian, on Sissy’s she’s Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, same two parents, same pediatrician.
2015 marked the first time that babies of color outnumbered white babies in the United States since Europeans started invading this continent, a landmark that demographers have been expecting. Between the time that Buddy and Sissy were born, my dad was talking to his father, who was gravely concerned about people of color outnumbering white people one day. While my grandfather accepted Andy and I, he still has some racist views. My father swiftly pointed out that his great-grandson is one of those people of color, which stunned my grandfather silent and into reconsidering his position.
And this is one of those things that gives me hope. It’s easier to hate people of other races when they aren’t your family and friends. It’s easier to demonize groups of people when you know nothing about them. I grew up in a diverse area and was encouraged to form friendships with people of other races. I am often baffled and angered by white people who see themselves as in competition with people from other races as a result of this. There seems to be this notion that when a person of color gets a job it was because affirmative action gave them the cutting edge over more qualified white people, yet when I see my husband reading books on computer programming in his spare time after watching him complete a bachelor’s degree at one of the toughest universities in the state and following it with a graduate degree in addition to all of the certifications he keeps on top of, it’s easy to see what ridiculousness this is. White people aren’t up against people of color who have an unfair advantage because of affirmative action, they’re up against other qualified candidates who also worked hard for their accomplishments.
And this is something that people in more diverse areas realize, and it’s also something that millennials, who are more likely to grow up knowing people of color, also realize. As distraught as I am by where we are politically right now, I have to remember that if only millennials had voted, Clinton would have won by a landslide.
I feel strongly that the growing diversity of America is a good thing, and I see that diversity embodied in my children. I hope they will grow up to embrace and love the many different cultures they can claim a heritage to, and that they receive acceptance from society at large. And I hope that their experience helps them to show and demonstrate tolerance and acceptance to people who are different.