It’s Like This

GRACE Council member finds opportunity in her differences

Sophia Taylor, GRACE Contributor

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The first time I actually realized I was “mixed” was when someone asked me to repeat my last name, thinking it was my first. The question came from a tiny Hispanic lady in the lunch line, her hand hovering over the computer mid-pause. I was 14.

I’ve been asked if minorities at [PCA] have a different experience. The answer is yes, inevitably. So what’s it like?

Stepping into the school for the first time as a Freshman, I noticed the lack of similar-looking students. I understood peers would not all be one and the same, but I wanted to be able to identify with at least one other person. There seemed only to be a sea of people with unfamiliar cultures and lifestyles.

There were questioning glances exchanged when I revealed my “white” last name, and friends made jokes when they found out I was the product of a bi-racial marriage. Of course, most of them were not out of malice, but out of ignorance. I finally realized that a bi-racial student was not normal for those around me.

I was different from the rest of my friends, and I began struggling with my racial identity.

I wasn’t “white” because of my outward appearance and my fluency in Spanish; I wasn’t “Mexican” because of my upbringing in a predominantly “American” culture and lack of accent in my speech.

It surprised people that I could be a minority and be on the honor roll, as if these events were mutually exclusive. Is being educated equivalent to being Caucasian?

My American upbringing and economic status was different from a number of my Hispanic friends. They would often call me “uppity” or say I dressed “like a white girl.” Is being poor equivalent to being Hispanic?

All this leads to another question. Is the experience minorities at this school have good or bad? It can be both, and for me personally, it is.

I think we have these different experiences because of our altered view of the world around us. It is colored with the mannerisms, ideas and experiences that are often brushed upon us due to our race. This grants us a broader viewpoint, and perhaps a more aware and analytic perspective of the things that happen around us and to us.

This allows us to have richer experiences, bringing understanding to our peers of the joys of our culture and raising awareness of the misconceptions that they may have about it.

If I were just Caucasian, I probably would not have blinked twice at the comment a peer made during Homecoming dress-week: “For career day, you should totally bring cleaning supplies.”

But because of my culture, this was offensive and only furthered the misconstrued stereotypes that people possess. I pointed this out and, by doing so, unintentionally initiated a discussion among my peers about stereotypes, perhaps educating them on a topic they had never even considered.

I think it’s important to see these different experiences, good and bad, as opportunities to both learn and educate that would not have otherwise happened if I were not a minority. I thank God every day for adding that colorful facet to my life and for its ability to remind me daily that my true identity is in Christ.

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