I Am Biracial (¡Guau! ¡No Me Digas!)

I am biracial.
Two races.
Two groups of people claim me as their own, or maybe they actually reject me.
I try to squeeze into the boxes you’ve placed in front of me, but somehow I can’t fit in.

Maybe it’s my hair that coils and springs freely.
My hair that moves wildly like an ocean wave crashing upon a Puerto Rican beach.
“Oh, girl you’re such a fiery Latina!”

Or perhaps it’s my skin color,
That mezcla of brown, yellow, and white.
“Your skin is so light, if you straighten your hair, you could pass.”
For white.
So you’re a Nazi.

I’m sorry, but I didn’t know this was a test. And what’s a passing score? White?

If so, I guess I’ve failed, because I got 50%.

And if this is a test, I was doomed to fail from the start.

Starting to think about my ethnicity the more you play games with it.

“What are you?”

What am I? A beloved daughter of the King.

You toy with my identity like we’re on the playground but half of me is on the wall waiting to be picked.

Which half? Depends on who YOU are.

People of color love to reaffirm my Puerto Rican “sassy” flavor.

And Caucasians are thrilled when they hear me speak. You see, I’ve been told I “speak well.” Speak well for what?

What do you think this is? Is my identity something malleable that you can stretch and stretch to fit your preconceived notions of what you think I should be?

Because I want to know when my ethnic identity became in any way related to our dependent upon you.

You need to know that I decide how I express my cultures. I choose which to identify with.

But you know, maybe I identify with both! That’s something we both know is unsettling to the idea of me in your head.

But, thankfully, even if I claim both cultures equally, shocking I know, you can still choose how you see me.

Because I am biracial.
Two races.
Two groups of people claim me as their own, or maybe they actually reject me.
I try to squeeze into the boxes you’ve placed in front of me
But somehow I can’t fit in.

And I don’t want to anymore.

Who Is Kajol?

She was smokey; that’s how she felt to me. A young teen she was, but she reflected something mysterious and unspoken when we met. A nose ring glittered against her cinnamon skin, which contrasted beautifully against her yellow salwar kameez. In the children’s park, she led me by the hand to her favorite spots: the statue of the elephant, the bushes of white flowers, and the clusters of dandelions. An hour passed like mere moments as we made wishes, watching the fluffy white stuff fly freely off the dandelion stems. Like children we swung from the swings, daring each other to go higher and higher. Fuchka was our afternoon snack and we laughed while popping those puris in our mouths.

While walking her back to her home in a local slum, still holding my hand, she suddenly looked up into my eyes and declared, “My name is Kajol.”

Knowing that her mother tongue was Hindi, I responded with, “Tera naam Kajol hai?”

She smiled and nodded.

I continued, “Oh! Well, mera naam Gabby hai!”

She laughed and introduced me to Barsha, the four-year old princess who claimed ownership of my other hand. Barsha had that adorable and common young Indian girl look: short, mushroom-like hair and a beautiful little dress. When I dropped these two princesses at home, knowing that the peaceful time we had just spent was rare for them, I left knowing that my life had just become altered in a way I never could have foreseen.

 

 

 

This is a snippet of this young lady who has taught me more about joy and resilience than anyone else I’ve known.

 

Gabrielle G.

Let Freedom Ring?

This is my first “Independence Day” in the US in about two years. In 2015 and 2016, I was blissfully traveling in India, where the 4th of July was just another day to everyone around me. I wasn’t asked about it and I liked it that way.

I suppose that it’s important to mention that lately I’ve found my patriotism to be difficult to maintain considering how our country is rapidly burning. Well, it was always on fire but most of us weren’t aware just how hot the fire could be until the 2016 election showed us the hateful face of America.

America has given me incredible privileges. The fact that I’m free to start a blog, that I am literate, and that I even have the free time to engage in this form of expression is a privilege. I’m aware that my Cum Laude BA, my middle class parents, mid-tone skin color, and citizenship are massive privileges.

But, my anger with this country is not because I lack comforts or rights in any way. It’s not about me; it’s about my brother and sister. It’s difficult for me to trust the police when I see my black brothers and sisters shot like animals on the street. It’s difficult for me to embrace my Caucasian brother- or sister-in-Christ when I see many professing Christians ripping off women’s hijabs or chanting “Build the wall!”

It’s easy for me to look at the state of the American Church now and shake my head, beat my chest, and tear my clothes in distress. However, what I’m coming to realize and understand is that our church history was always this way. We Christians have owned slaves and justified it; it’s being justified in churches today as well. We have decided that women should have no voice in the church and it’s still difficult for women to stand behind a pulpit and speak about what God has done in them and through them. We have told people that their language is not fit for church, their dancing is too charismatic, and their Bible must be the KJV. We’ve made idols of abortion and homosexuality, forgetting that if we’re pro-life, we’re pro-every life, not just unborn. And when homosexuality is mentioned in the New Testament, it’s typically in a group of other sins, which tells us that neither Jesus nor Paul overly emphasized homosexuality (in fact, Jesus never mentioned it).

How do we not see that these racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and xenophobic traditions permeate our church buildings and manifest in the hatred we read about in the news?

Today in my Georgian church (state, not country), the theme for the service was “God Bless America.” “Oh boy. Here we go”, I thought, as I walked past hundreds of people donning American flag-themed clothing and hats. Huge American flags decorated every part of the sanctuary. “Oh no.” I sat through most of the strong patriotic expressions with mild discomfort, but when it came time to worship The Lord, I found the music choices a little pale.

The worship minister quoted several “founding fathers” of our faith (in the US, at least), and brushed aside those aforementioned fathers’ affinity for slavery and misogyny. The hymns chosen were beautiful and they deeply touched my heart, but after the service I was left with uncomfortable feelings. Why was only white Christianity celebrated and revered? Were not the African slaves actually masters of painful, glorious, heart-wrenching spirituals that praised the Everlasting God? Where were those in the service? Was their Christianity inferior? Or maybe no one wanted to talk about that part of the Church’s past.

The pastor spoke of returning to the way things were in the Church, but I don’t want to do that! Jesus doesn’t want us to, either, if I may be so bold. We have our “founding fathers” before us as examples of men who pursued God, but let color, gender, culture and economics/politics keep them from truly living out the Gospel. Thanks, guys. But, now, we know better. Well, we’re supposed to know better. We must desire to do a better job of representing Christ and His Church (Us) on this earth.

As Christians, we must:

  1. Make God our ultimate authority
  2. Rely on Scripture and NOT Church tradition (traditions are fine, but not when they hinder growth or reconciliation)
  3. Pursue racial, linguistic, cultural, etc. reconciliation with all people
  4. Include others in our worship services.

Remember, the Church began in the Middle East, not the USA.

 

Here’s a great video where Michelle Higgins, a Christian social justice activist, explores this topic in depth:

 

Happy Independence Day.

 

 

Gabrielle G.