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Ambiguity of Race

June 30th, 2016 | Posted by pftq in Blabberbox | #
     This is a funny thing that's dogged me since I was a child, but for whatever reason, people often seem to have a really hard time identifying my ethnicity by my appearance.  I've had people who were the same ethnicity as me literally tick off every race they could think of except their own race, of which I was the same, despite having known me for years.  I guess it doesn't help that my last name is one of the rarest in the world, and it is all the more ironic that it actually translates to "nobody" in the original language.*

     Just the other day though, someone completely off the streets of NYC just bumped into me and actually tried to speak Spanish to me first before switching to English (spoilers, I'm neither Spanish nor Mexican).  That was a surprise even to me (and perhaps to the other guy as well who kept talking for 5 min before realizing I didn't understand a word he was saying).  It's one thing for someone who's known me for years not to know we were the same ethnicity.  It's a whole new level for a complete stranger who is not the same ethnicity to mistake me as one of their own.

     It's not even like I'm mixed heritage or anything.  Both my parents are straight up full-blooded natives from their home country, the same country.  Maybe it comes from the way I grew up.  For one, I'm not religious nor do I have any cultural traditions.  It doesn't mean I just do whatever though or that I'm atheist, just that I'm agnostic about a lot of things and adopt what makes sense to me.  The irony is that people who are white or Americanized would frequently think I'm not Western enough, and people who are not would constantly accuse me of being white-washed.  I get criticized for being too conservative in the way I live my life, yet those same people then say I'm way too crazy and risk-taking in my endeavors.  Maybe I'm just the only normal person left (note: sarcasm - apparently it's too much to assume people have context clues now - also sarcasm).

     The funniest part is people often think I have an accent, but I grew up with and can only speak English.  I mean, it'd make sense if I had another primary language that I was more proficient at, but if you take away my one and only language, then uhm... I mean, what else can I say?


* I get always get people who are skeptical on this point, but I've had complete strangers who are actually native to my family's home country, meet me for the first time, both read and pronounce my last name, and then ask me what kind of last name is "nobody." If someone (and many people over the years in this case) from the original language thinks it means nobody, then there really is no "technically it is this or it just sounds like that."
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