One of the great poets of our generation, “Lil Wayne” Carter, so aptly stated “what’s the world without enigma?” and in today’s globalized society, no one takes this more seriously than those of us that work so hard to be racially ambiguous. Because why would you want to be just one simple, uncomplicated race when you can make yourself more interesting at parties with your heightened sense of worldliness and traumatic multi-racial identity? Le sigh.
Take heed, it’s not easy. There is an art to creating your questionable and seemingly colorful family tree. When someone asks you where you’re from, take a deep breath and roll your eyes. They may as well have asked you to translate the Bible into one of the three languages you don’t speak fluently. Don’t start with yourself, you’ll give away that you are, in fact, a born and bred American citizen. Your dad is from an obscure but mildly buzzed about country. You know the type, we probably got involved in their government in the early 1980s with little to no success. Your mom was born in Tennessee, but again, leave that out and push the fact that her parents came in exile. So the racial tension was palpable throughout her childhood because your grandma didn’t know what Brownies were and thus didn’t let her join—making your mom a social outcast in the suburban South.
While your captive audience is oohing and aahing over your family’s plight in coming to the good ol’ US of A, make sure to throw in that you moved around a lot for your dad’s job since all his bosses were probably racist. “But you keep it so real!” they’ll say. Yea, because you were raised in the mean streets of like, LA or Miami. No need to mention that you were born and raised in suburbia and went to private school.
Speaking of audience, this performance is only as good as your dem. Growing up, make sure to be the opposite of what your friends are. Compensate for the fact that you’re a teensy bit jealous of their full-breed status by really pushing the opposing angle. Half-Cambodian, half Viet? Make sure your Vietnamese friends know your WAY closer to your Cambodian family, and drop small bombs about how much harder they had it.
When you get to college and are reinventing yourself anyway, join a fraternity or sorority. Because nothing says “I’m proud of my heritage but can still hang” like homogeneous, predominantly white groups of people that wear lots of matching t-shirts and need to meet quota. Do not by any means join the organizations “historically” designated for your race. Your ancestors didn’t bust their ass to make it in this country for you to be anything less than American, God dammit! (Pay no attention to the fact that your grandparents all went to college and/or were very wealthy in their country of origin. Oh, and don’t care what frat you join.).
Make sure everyone knows you’re not like everyone else, as demonstrated by the naturally bronzed color of your skin and loud phone conversations in your native tongue over 2-for-1 margaritas and chicken fingers at Applebee’s. Yes, it’s an urgent call, and no you can’t switch to English. It’s your grandmother and she gets PISSED if you don’t answer. Even if it is to ask about whether or not you have a boyfriend, job, or baby yet. When your friends comment on how it’s so weird that you can switch between languages, answer in vague blanket statements. “IDK, it’s just a part of me, I guess.”
Judge other “colorful” people HARD. Say things like “Right but her dad is British. Not exactly a tough transition.” When you’re with these people, though, swap war stories about how hard it can be to be so different. After they leave, tell your friends “Um, they’re so intense.”
Make it clear that your wide spectrum of interests is because of your dynamic background. You work out to mixtapes of no-name artists that use a lot of African drums and marimbas because it just keeps you grounded, you know? That doesn’t mean you aren’t blasting T. Swift with your girlfriends in the ride your dad bought you when you were 16.
Going out tonight? Tell your white friends you really want to hear “really ignorant rap” or go to that “new Brazilian joint” since you’re into that, being ethnic and all. Be texting your more racially diverse friends and say you kind of want to hit that bluegrass dive bar for some Bud heavys and shots of Bourbon.
Be super protective and proud of your native land(s) when they come up in the news. Even if you don’t really know what the hell is going on, you can formulate an opinion no one will question in five seconds flat just based on the stories drilled into your head as a kid. Tweet it, and post a link to the NYT article you read that was no doubt written by someone who just “doesn’t understand.” Then go back to researching the top ten restaurants in your city that serve your native cuisine du jour. You have a date with a white boy tonight.