Manika-Nia’s Mixed Girl Tag| I Was Slapped for Looking Like a “Chinamen”
Today we are totally going to mix it up, stepping away from natural hair and beauty and jumping into the popular Mixed Girl Tag with my personal in-depth answers to each question.
Loads of multicultural men and women have answered these questions, and I love reading and listening to their responses.
This type of tag is a wonderful way to gain insight into what it’s like for those who come from more than one background, and I believe that these types of questions are necessary to gain an understanding of the world that we live in.
Growing up mixed has definitely helped me organize the world around me and has taught me some important lessons about who I am.
1. What are you mixed with?
(Sigh). This is such a loaded question! Let my dad tell it and the listener will find that his father is African American and his mother is of Filipino, Chinese and Spanish descent.
My Lola (grandmother in Tagalog) was born in the Phillipines and lived there until she met my grandfather and moved to the states. Cut and dry it would seem that my father is Black, Filipino, Chinese and Spanish.
Yet my Filipina friend– whose name is literally Stephanie Africa (cool, right?!)– once let me know a little bit of Pinoy history. I was telling someone what I was mixed with when she said that the same could be said of most Filipinos. It’s the colonial history that makes most modern Filipinos a mixture of Indigenous Filipino, Chinese, and Spanish (among others).
I did a brief search and found that my little buddy sure wasn’t lying! This is why I have historically had a little trouble answering that question.
Most mixed people have this extraneous list of how many ethnicities they are made up of, and sometimes you wonder: really?! Are you really mixed with thirty things! How much do you need to have in you for it to count? I mean, in that sense aren’t we all a little bit of everything?!
So, I never wanted to be one of those “I’m this this this this this this this” (you get the point) type of people. I’d rather give the main tings! The things my parents and grandparents are.
I cut out the Spanish and Chinese bits of my rap after what Steffy told me and would only say that I was Black and Filipino on my dads side. I stuck to my guns on that until I actually had a conversation with my Tatay (dad in Tagalog).
He let me know that his mother actually spoke Chinese and was the daughter of a half-Filipino half-Chinese descendant, Kim-Ing. My Lola’s father was Sebastian Henorosa Sebastian Lopez and my Lola told my dad that her father was half-Spanish– I surmise that the other half was Filipino based on his country of birth.
So in the end, my dad wasn’t lying either! On his side we are African American, Filipino, Chinese and Spanish. Woah!
My mother’s mother was Creole which is another one of those almost-ambiguous things. Creole normally means mixed with European and African and is mostly seen numerously in the Carribbean.
Similarly to the Carribbean, the early days of the US saw a surplus in territories established by the Europeans that errr commandeered the land.
The French once “owned” Louisiana (named after King Louis XIV) before selling it to Thomas Jefferson– you know to get out of that Madame deficit and King Louis type of debt. When the French owned the land many of the settlers intermixed with the African slaves and African settlers and thus a specific brand of French and Black Creoles were aplenty.
My maternal grandmother was actually from Louisiana and her father was African American while her mother was a Creole woman. My mom’s dad was thought to be African American and Choctaw which, if you didn’t know, is American Indian. Yet check the photo to see what ancestry tells my mom she is… sigh… I wonder if all the people who call me Pocahontas now feel duped…
Put it all together and we find that I’m a blend. Period.
2. What ethnicity have you often been mistaken for?
I almost always get taken for some kind of islander: with Hawaiian or Samoan winning out. However, I also get called Pocahontas quite a lot which makes me super super happy ?.
3. Is your hair curly or straight
As all my readers know I am a curly girl through and through! 3b to be precise though I didn’t start to embrace my natural hair until May 2016.
4. Was coming from different backgrounds challenging growing up?
Yes! My mom is black, she identifies as black– not mixed– and I grew up predominantly with my mumma. She’s black, I’m black. But I was always aware that I wasn’t perceived as black or in fact black enough by others, and it made my situation feel complex. Sometimes I don’t even believe I was perceived as mixed but just straight up Asian.
In fact, when I was 6 years old I got into my first fist fight due to my inconclusive appearance.
My two sisters and I are playing outside at our Tatay’s complex when these two young girls approach us from the side. They look like they are the same age as my sisters and I watch them shoot daggers at us with their eyes whispering in one another’s ears in between the shots.
My sisters whisper to one another too. This is kid kingdom. If someone does something to you, you do it back to annoy them! The girls continue walking, ferociously staring at us as they round the corner out of sight.
I’m 6 and the encounter means very little to me. I am preoccupied with the cloud that looks so much like Ariel’s hair when the girls return followed by a fleece of not only young girls, but adults too!
Their cousins, aunts and even mother begin to scream at us girls aged 6, 8 and 9. Necks are snapping as the mob is rounding on us. Outnumbered and only young, we run to our father’s apartment with the battalion close at our heels.
My father doesn’t want us running away from bullies. He’s prepared to teach us to stand up to these kids when he opens the door and sees women his age circling below like scavengers waiting to consume his youngest offspring’s.
My father tries to diffuse the situation, like any rational adult would. “Alright look, can’t we just talk about this?” He proposes, only to hear the grown women say “nah we wanna fight, we wanna fight them chinamens!”
We have a rumble, my very first rumble. I probably have a dumb look on my face; I’m not sure what’s going on. A small girl who is much bigger than I am says, “I’ll slap any one ‘a y’all” and I feel a sharp sting as her hand lands perfectly across my left cheek.
For the first time I feel the tender flesh of another human being as my feral fists land repeatedly on the offenders face.
I suppose this is the first recognizable instance of the challenges of growing up mixed race.
But things weren’t always as dark. In middle school my mumma, two sisters and I moved away from the Oakland area and on to Union City– the land of true diversity. I fit in fine with all my schoolmates and neighbors with no problem.
I did, however, try and prove my blackness on more than one occasion and then and there that meant embodying toughness and being associated with a ghetto life or claiming Oakland as ones hometown. I obviously had identity challenges from very early on and felt that I had something to prove.
The challenge was that I felt like I was my mumma and my aunts and cousins but many in the black community didn’t feel the same. I remember sometimes feeling spiritless in a room full of young black women for fear that my presence was an issue.
On the very first day of high school two near-6 foot tall girls corner me after African American studies. “You tryna act black!” they say as they take turns holding one another back.
Funnily enough, one became my friend thereafter. She faced her own challenges of being half-Black half-White, lesbian and wanting to establish herself in the black community of our high school. One Black girl didn’t like my “false blackness,” and to reaffirm her “true blackness” my future friend followed suit. Challenges!
Throughout highschool a great many of my girls were Filipino or mixed with Filipino, and I developed a bit of a complex of not being perceived as black enough from those in the African American community because of it. Even some of my own kin would give me stick for not being Black enough. In my family if its not Black then its white and this furthered my identity challenges.
It would happen the other way as well. Just not feeling fully accepted by Blacks nor Filipinos and certainly not among whites. It was weird because my friends all considered me black but many Blacks considered me other.
I guess the biggest challenge was understanding where I fit in in the world. I found my place in the end though ;).
Watch Me Explain the Entire Story Here
5. Which backgrounds do you embrace the most?
I feel a strong sense of community with my African American background, its like home. I understand Blackness the most because that is how I grew up!
Still, even though I don’t know as much as some, I also feel a connection with my Filipino roots and love.. like love.. travelling around the world and running into someone who gives me a familiar look and asks “are you Filipina?”
My great grandmother on my mumma’s side was said to be a full Choctaw woman and though that only makes me a tiny percent, I feel so happy to have that blood in my veins.
Those three I embrace most, though the French is cool because I love the language and the Spanish is cool because I lived in Spain for sometime and dabble in the language. I also love Chinese food so hey.. haha I’ll embrace them all!
All-in-all I’m a mixed woman!
6. Have you ever been teased for being different?
In middle school and high school most people around me were mixed up. You’d get the odd idiots wanting to fight because they thought I was Rachel Dolezal’ing it but for the most part I was never teased for being a mixed lady.
I do, however, find that I have a different experience living in Europe than I did back home. Most people find mixed people to be interesting and unique but I have heard some racially-insensitive talk from people who weren’t aware that I was mixed with one of the ethnicities they were talking about.
7. Have you ever been ashamed of being multi-racial?
I have never been ashamed of being mixed. I love it! I feel very proud and very lucky to be a person that can connect with more than one ethnicity.
8. Do you feel that being mixed has its benefits?
Connectivity. I would say that I feel a sense of home in America, the Phillipines and Mama Africa. I also feel that God makes us all different walks of life for reasons that have everything to do with lessons. The benefits of being mixed is to see certain connections and understand cultures in a multifaceted way.
9. What makes being multiracial a beautiful thing?
Many mixed people are quite interesting to look at. I love when I can’t decipher what someone is because their mix just can’t give it away. So, what makes being mixed a beautiful thing is the way it gets the mind working. I think that it also raises awareness and bridges cultures which is in the interest of progressing the human race. We are all one anyway though that fact is often lost on us. Some mixed people remind us that cultural barriers need not exist.
10. Any advice to someone who struggles with their multiracial identity?
Learn to embrace it. You are what you are and the creator made you this way for a reason. Being mixed doesn’t define you either, its just one part of your physical existence. You are who you are and once you come to terms with that, and start to love that, all the obstacles become insignificant. Also find your community– whatever that may be– and you will always fit right in ;).