I have immense pride in identifying my ethnicity to people. It’s the first trait I boast when others want to know what makes me unique. My maternal grandmother (Nana) is full-blooded Agundan (Native-Canadian tribe) and my paternal Grandmother (Grandma) is half Cherokee. My various roots are intertwined with my culture, morals, traditions, and have helped evolve me into who I am today. Thus, you can imagine how annoyed I get when people give me blank stares and skeptic glares when I describe how I am more than just African-American. I’ve had people say, “But, you’re not light-skinned,” and “You don’t look Native American,” as if that suddenly changes my genetic make-up. People who are enlightened on the details of the tribes my family originate from can detect certain traits, like my high cheek bones and soft long hair, which indicate my diverse ethnicity, but the average Joe –who probably thinks Native Americans only look like Sacajawea and Pocahontas- doesn’t notice these qualities.
As a society we sometimes misinterpret the unknown. We see someone who may be Indian but don’t consider they might be Guyanese; we see an oriental and assume they are Chinese or Japanese when their homeland could be Vietnam or South Korea. We see Nigerians, Ethiopians, and Kenyans and consider them the same because they all came from Africa, or see someone who looks Hispanic and automatically call them Mexican.
Because I have personal connections with this issue, I’ve learned to liberate myself from the tunnel vision that others unconsciously adopt as a result of not having experience with diversity. I’ve developed a panoramic perspective of the world and have become more self-aware of where I belong in it.
I’m positive my diverse nature has also evolved my creative thinking skills. Not only am I able to view issues from a perspective that others cannot, but recognizing these diverse vantage points will help me consider multiple options when running into new types of...