Cream in Coffee or Coffee in Cream?

You know my most favorite part about applying for new jobs? Getting to the Affirmative Action section. Most of it is pretty easy and self explanatory.

Do you have a disability? Check the ‘no’ box.

Are you a veteran? ‘no’ Box

What is your race?

*blank stare*

Ay yo La, wtf is your race!?! Pick a box! But you can only pick one.

White. A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as “White” or report entries such as Irish, German, Italian, Near Easterner, Arab, or Polish. (how many white people do you know that would shit themselves in this Post 9/11 political climate to be lumped in with Arabs?)

Black or African American (not Hispanic) A person having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa. It includes people who indicate their race as Black, African American, or Negro, or provide written entries such as African American, Afro American, Kenyan, Nigerian, or Haitian.” (If you think the fact that ‘negro is included on this form is offensive, try the fact that the term wasn’t officially done away with by the OMB until 2000)

American Indian and Alaska Native A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North and South America (including Central America) and who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment (so I’m only considered American Indian if I maintain tribal affiliation? Screw the ancestry?)

Asian A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam. It includes Asian Indian, Chinese, Filipino, Korean, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Other Asian. (So if I’m Asian Indian but don’t maintain tribal affiliation does that mean I just drop the Indian? And is Other a country in Asia I am unaware of?)

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. It includes people who indicate their race as Native Hawaiian, Guamanian or Chamorro, Samoan, and Other Pacific Islander. (So does this mean Obama has to check this box? Or no? Because he’s black? And White?)

Some other race Includes all other responses not included in the White, Black or African American, American Indian and Alaska Native, Asian and Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander race categories described above. Respondents providing write-in entries such as multiracial, mixed, interracial, Wesort, or a Hispanic/Latino group (for example, Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban)

Ok. I mean, I can read. But here’s what throws me…

Black or African American (not Hispanic or Latino) But…

“…who maintain tribal affiliation or community attachment…” Oh…

And sometimes they get fancy…

Two or more races (not Hispanic or Latino) Um…

Or they get very specific…

What is your ethnicity, regardless of race?

Hispanic or Latino
Not Hispanic of Latino

(These are the only divisions of ethnicity?)

So, what ARE you, La?

Melungeon. Redbone. Quintroon. Mestee. Mulatto. We-Sorts. Zambo. Moreno. Quadroon. Octoroon. Afro-Latin American. Baster. Cholo. Creole. Pardo. Colored. Marabou. Blatino. Brass Ankles. Half Breed. Blaxican. Castizo. Multiethnic. Griqua. Amerindian. Taino. Biracial. Multiracial. Blaxica. Caucindiblack. Boriqua. Hexadecaroon.

It is any wonder I dunno what the fuck to check on these little boxes?

Of course if you’re not multiracial, or biracial, or whatever the hell it’s called this minute, you don’t really understand my pain. Or the guilt I feel when I can only check one box. Or the mini-identity crisis that ensues every time I read the ifs ands buts and what ifs that are supposed to quantify my racial and ethnic identity (which can apparently only be Hispanic or Latino or not Hispanic and Latino). I certainly don’t propose a laundry list of race friendly terminology on every self identification form or any foolishness thereof. But here’s what I DO recommend…

Stop telling me I have good hair.
My hair is a constant struggle. Sure, it looks fantastic when I leave the house, but I more than likely spent 2 hours wrangling it into some form of presentable. Maybe it’s curly. Maybe it’s pressed straight and hanging down my back. Either way, it’s a pain in my racially confused ass. It wouldn’t hurt for you to acknowledge that.

Don’t look at me like a race traitor because I don’t use Fashion Fair makeup.
Or any “ethnic” product du jour. It breaks me out. And I guarantee you that 99% of makeup of minorities don’t have not no parts of foundation that matches my skin. Nowhere. I put $100 on that.

Don’t ask me how I “got my skin so light” or any variation of the theme.
You haven’t lived until someone has wandered up to you and asked you what bleaching cream you used.

Don’t give me the confused head tilt and ask me, “What ARE you?”
The answer will always be, “I are about to kick your ass.”

Don’t call me “high yellow”, “Redbone“, “Creole”, “Mutt”, “Hybrid” or any of that other shit.
I’m La. It’s nice to meet you. My mother gave me 2 names. You may feel free to use either one. I won’t answer to any of those above.

Assume that I think I am better/smarter/prettier/likely to be more successful than my darker counterparts.
I didn’t even realize people still bought into this bullshit until someone assumed that my life goal was to be a video ho… because “isn’t that what your type like to do?”

It goes all ways though. White people could…

Stop trying to sell me Estee Lauder.
And most other typical “white” makeup product. It dries my skin out. And without fail makes my skin so pale I look like I am preparing for my funeral.

Not see me and my daddy together and rudely assume I’m not his.
This is my daddy:

I realize it would be foolish of me to believe that all people would automatically assume I’m his kid. Just please also recognize that it is foolish of you to pull him over, Office Dumb Ass, because you think he has kidnapped me.

Stop assuming you can guess my ethnicity… and start telling racist jokes.
That goes for you, former employer who got a little too comfortable and started telling racist jokes about Black people… and for you Ivy League guy who was trying to impress me with talk of your travels to Latin America and the Caribbean and found great humor in telling me that Puerto Ricans and Dominicans are “dumpster races and cultural bastards” and then being shocked when I curse you out.

And Hispanic/Latino (so sayeth the Census Bureau) people could…

Stop sneering at me because I don’t speak fluent Spanish.
Or because I don’t understand Cuban Spanish. Or because sometimes I call them chickpeas. Or because despite my penchant for paella, I try not to fuck with starches (i.e. tortillas and potatoes.)

Not assume I am ashamed of my heritage.

Condemn me to the fires of hell because I am not Catholic.
I’m not Catholic for many reasons outside of the fact that my mother is black(ish).

With the inevitable (despite what Hillary says) nomination of Barack Obama as the democratic nominee for president of this country, the issues of mixed raced citizens are becoming a popular point of interest for various pundits and social critics. (By the way, don’t you love how Obama is always the ‘first African American nominee’? No one ever says, “If Obama wins he will be the youngest Caucasian to ever hold office.” I guess if you have to leave out something, it would logically his mother’s whole side of the family, even though that’s really the only one he’s ever known. Go ahead and tell me the one drop rule is dead.) It isn’t a new issue, it isn’t even an issue wildly unique to America. (I have a Dominican friend who will NOT admit to her friends that her mother is a Spaniard.) There are support groups and articles and essays and new awareness about the fact that, while a small group, multiracial/ethnic people are a substantial one. And one with unique perspectives on what it means to try and delicately straddle the definitive fences between cultures and races without damaging your most delicate parts. It’s probably not quite as hard for me as it was for my mom, won’t be as hard for my kids as it was for me. But the fact that so many people still feel the urge to quantify some parts of me and disregard others, lends itself to a certain kind of unique identity crisis that you can’t know unless you’ve lived it. Yes, I know you’ve heard it all, blahblahblah not black enough or white enough, yadda. But what about the gray areas? And what about a world, and a country more specifically, where who you are is so tied up in your color? Imagine if the very ancestral strand that you prided yourself on and built your identity around was questioned because you are somehow less than. I remember having a woman tell me that I couldn’t really be outraged about slavery because I “woulda been a house nigga anyway.”
About 2 months ago.

For most people of any race, they check a box and deal with the apprehension of whether or not they will be discarded because they aren’t the particular entity that company needs to fill a quota: white men wonder if they’ll be passed over for a Hispanic woman. Black and Hispanic people wonder if they’ll be discarded just because they are Black and Brown. Women wonder if they won’t get the high paying executive job dealing with finance because “women aren’t good with numbers.” It’s a crap shoot really. You could be helping yourself or shooting yourself in your affirmative action foot. Some people always wonder if they got the job because they deserved it or because there weren’t enough Asian people or women or Hispanic people working in that particular company or department.

But what if you, like I, constantly wonder if you are discounted because they, like the rest of the world, have no idea what to do with you?

23 thoughts on “Cream in Coffee or Coffee in Cream?

  1. Wow..loved this post! My first visit to your spot..I could write a post in my own sense related to this…but not here LoL.I feel for you. I just loooove massing with folks who ask “what ARE you?” Um, Canadian thanks!.. *walkin away*Too many folks still staying ignorant..what a crime.


  2. Interesting, how the races were broken down like that. I never knew! LOL. Well…I guess I better go get affiliated with my tribe.


  3. “I keep saying I am gonna try to trace my family geneaology to get some clarity about things, but its just so convoluted and my fam aint the type for talkin and sharing family history.”Yeah I’ve been wanting to do this too but like your family, mine aint one for givin details about family history. Why is that?! I had a talk about this with my father but i think i need to hear his theory on why this is again to refresh my memory.As for the little Salvadorean lady, I feel bad that you probably gave her wrong directions LOL but I’m sure she found her way…all those spanish speakers up there and if i can find my way she can lol@MonieI’m so glad you said that about the 1 drop rule! Probably only about .5 percent of people in this world are 100% anything…


  4. A dude told me “I like them your color. You a fine redbone”. That’s a sure fire way to NOT get my number. I get the “what are you”. I’m surprised everytime I get it because as far as I know I’m black. Both sets of grandparentes are black.


  5. La, please write a couple 20 books. I love these long posts!That one drop rule is crazy, ain’t it? You know what kills me is those Aryan Nation assholes. The ones that think that their bloodline is 100% White.Yeah right, dude!


  6. @X hahaha you’re a mess@Jam I think I’m gonna try and write in Melungeon. That’s my fav of all of them. I think I look like my daddy too… but no one else does. Prob because I look alot like my mom too. Aww she’s so cute with “her little brown baby”@Wife awww honey that was SO relevant! I’m proud. But I can’t be whatever I think I am? So I’m NOT a koala?@Chris you know the funny part is… white folks ain’t the ones I have had most issue with over it.@Mia. hahahahahahaha! I LOVE that your birth certificate says Negro. The ironic thing about this whole thing is that I am pretty sure mine is blank for the race section, if I am remembering correctly, lol. I keep saying I am gonna try to trace my family geneaology to get some clarity about things, but its just so convoluted and my fam aint the type for talkin and sharing family history. My “good hair” has been in a curly ponytail for MONTHS, lol. The good news is, it’s growing really fast. The bad news is, I hate it, lol. Oh honey, Catholic? One day I will write about my early years as a Catholic school girl… before I realized that Catholocism was in like with NOTHING I believe in, lol. I am all about the Catholic, chocolate brother that speaks Spanish. But not a Panamanian. They’re crazy. A Dominican maybe. They’re at least functionally crazy, lolI prob shoulda emailed you all that, huh? lol@Jonzee wtf IS that?!?!? There is something about my head that makes random strangers wanna dig their hands into it. You are much nicer than me cuz I am ALWAYS trying to break their fingers. Hair is so intimate. Why are you touching me? lol I always get people coming up to me and talking to me in Spanish and I always feel bad that I can only make out part of what they’re saying. There is a poor El Salvadorian woman still stuck somewhere on the 9 in nyc because I am pretty sure I gave her wrong directions, lol@Duck “In that case, Mr./Miss Expert Race Identifier, please, kindly, go fuck yourself” And that is why you’re fantastic. I stopped trying long time ago to just go with the “I’m just black” defense a long time ago. That brought on even more foolishness and mayhem than trying to name it all, lol@Desy hahaha! You know every once in awhile you gotta real talk it, lol@Christina EXACTLY! Mine was a combo of the 2; my fam chastised me for not being black enough, but then criticized me for acknowledging my Latina roots. I couldn’t win, lol@V hahaha patience of Job kid.@Diamonds hahaha I do what I can@Joy we all love Thurm… but he is a moron, lol. My racial background is “cute” now? Jesus. See? More issues from black folks than anyone else. Doesn’t he look all happy in that picture? It’s one of my favs.@Eb Japanase, White, Black, AND Rican? Poor kid, lol. Give him my email in a few years so he can have someone to commiserate with, lol@RJ the sad part is that most of these people aren’t people I know. They’re just people who feel like saying foolishness to the random Blaricanindian girl on the street. Wait. I think I might like that more than melungeon, lol


  7. I’m gonna ask you the same question you asked me: Where do you meet these people?They seem to say the stupidest thing possible to you all the time. So much I was laughing at during this post, that I wont even point it all out, but I still got the point. Why don’t you check all that apply and see what happens?


  8. Dang… you just made me feel bad for making fun of my lil sis. She is japanese, black, and white and has a son by a guy who is puerto rican. So I make fun of how my nephew is going to have to grow up and check all the boxes. I guess I will stop that now.


  9. First of all lemme say, yes. Yes. I agree. Also, did I ever tell you that in high school, thurm called me an octoroon because I told him my ancestors were Spanish Inquisition Jews. And “that explains your exotic look.” if he were anyone else, he’d’ve caught one. Also, I watched a doc a few years ago where a black man said “we can’t afford to set back affirmative action cuz some people wanna get cute on some forms.” as a person whose grandmother’s birth cert checks “white” and who is proudly multi racial (even if most of them are African) if its “cute” to want to acknowledge my COMPLETE heritage, than consider my ass a supermodel. Hi daddy! That picture has all his personality in it.


  10. I always wondered when I get to that section, why there isn’t a more clear option for people with multiple racial/ethnic backgrounds, but the homie La laid out a dissertation for that ass lol


  11. I can’t say I understand all this, but I’m surprised you not blogging from prison after that damn “house nigga” comment.Please tell me you accidently on purpose kicked her?


  12. OMG I can relate to EVERYTHING you said in this post. To keep things simple when fillin out forms i just put hispanic cuz they can be anything LOL. But, I have hard time identifying myself especially when my grandmother considers me black but growing up i wasn’t black enough…


  13. wow- tell me how you really feel… well, if i didn’t know… i now know… (but from reading your throwbacks… i already knew)


  14. *sigh*The worst part is, with the exception of the questions about your Latina heritage, I’ve heard every comment/question that you have listed here.And I simply identify myself as a black girl. With two black parents.The BEST part though? When I actually tap into my patient side and answer the “What ARE you?” question (“I’m black, actually”), I inevitably, INEVITABLY get the response…“No you’re not. You gotta have something else in you.”*sigh* In that case, Mr./Miss Expert Race Identifier, please, kindly, go fuck yourself.Thanks, bye.


  15. Um…yeah. Especially feeling you on the hair issue. When it was the weirdly half curly half straight red fro’–‘erbody and they mama was sticking their hand in it–like ‘wow, its soft and thick and curly and straight.’ My response (in my head, cause I’m a lady and stuff)was, ‘ Uh, huh, now get your hand the hell out my fro before I cut it off.’And I don’t speak spanish either…though I often wish I did. Especially, when my caribbean-latin folks start harassing me.


  16. Sis. I know you don’t like when someone tells a story and the recipient turns it around to pertain to themselves, but…I. HEAR. YOU.When I tell you I am triracial… and none of that great-great-great-great grandparents mess either.My mother was born here (in the States – as was <>her<> father) but my maternal grandmother was born in Mexico. And my father was born <>in Japan<> to a Japanese woman and a Black American soldier – with the exception of the Black American soldier, my family tree can be traced with ease and aplomb.And my birth certificate? It says <>Negro<>.Ironically, in the post that I am currently writing, I am lamenting my <>good<> hair – which by the way has been sentenced to a tightly pulled pony tail lest it aggravate me further and get chopped off.I’ve been called yellow, red, too dark, too light – white people didn’t think I was smart enough, (older) Black people have favored me because of my color… Well, if nothing else: I’m Catholic.Now all I need is a Catholic, chocolate brother who speaks Spanish. Maybe Panamanian?


  17. yeah, I tried to wrap my brain around this one, and what I got is that white folks for the most part are still crazy. As long as you are aware of everything your heritage encompasses, you shouldn’t be forced to reduce that to a check on a piece of paper, but like I said, white folks are still crazy.


  18. Lol, you just look like a light-skinned black girl to me, wife. And I don’t say that to deny your racial multitudes, but black American women often encompass many things (I identify as black, but I’m also Irish, English, Native American, and other things *shrug*). Blackness is kind of a catchall, especially since so many groups have been tainted by it, lol.Anyway, don’t let other peoples’ ignorance get ya down. You are what you think you are. (Unless you think you’re white. In which case, you’ll be reminded swiftly that you’re not! One drop rule, baby!)Was that somewhat relevant and thoughtful?


  19. good gracious. lmao @ Blaxica and Hexadecaroon. Next time they say other please insert one of those. you do know you’re going to hell for not being catholic, tho right? b/c that’s something you absolutely got right. quite true. you look like your daddy so… yeah. my mom gets sooo mad abt the good hair, yellow and redbone stuff too. she cheered when i was born and celebrated her “little brown baby.” so adorable that one.


  20. Umm… I have a headache. That I have had for about three minutes. Jesus, La! So much to address here- I’ll have to come back.


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