A lot of the time while coming up we spent adapting to several different cultures from very dissimilar places. Even though Dad was Mestizo (Half Filipino, Half White) he was a 100% Filipino in lifestyle and custom. Mom always had this kind of Hawaiian-Chinese connection in her past that was ever present, and I can recall as a kid eating Hawaiian Chicken Long Rice before ever having Filipino Pancit.
One of my earliest memories of when we first moved to Downey Street was sometime shortly after all the dust settled and we were playing outside the house. I donít know if any of the other guys remember this, but it was the first time I ever heard the term Chink.
Someone yelled it at us and it was like; ďHey, you Chinks!Ē or something to that effect.
Later I asked Mom what Chink was and she said never mind.
Some time afterwards I learned that Chink was a derogatory term, and at the time it didnít really didnít register. Not only were we not black to those kids, I guess we didnít seem white either and perhaps we were something new to them. But like all kids, once a basic familiarity sets in and time subsides, differences of that nature donít seem to really matter anymore and ultimately relationships take root and grow.
Outside of the house the vibe of the street was black, even though the whole street was not black folk. All the kids that befriended us were from the black families that lived in many of the homes there, all up and down the street as well as across from us. That was just the way it was for us back then and we didnít give it any extra thought at the time, and we just blended in and became a part of the scene.
And after a time we got to know all the kids well, race was no longer an issue, and if you were accepted or not, it wasnít due to what color or what nationality you were. Perhaps the initial apprehension to us could have been alluded to the fear of the unknown and the reaction to anything different that prompts a tepid response to other types of folks due to the racial barriers that divided many.
Since then, weíve long had the ability to assimilate into any culture, and we were always somewhat lucky to find acceptance in whatever situations we found ourselves. I still find often that even nowadays many people just donít know what to make of us, or so at least racially, and truthfully at times itís amusing to see the way strangers look at us. Iím sure that we all feel kind of blessed to have come up under these circumstances.
With all this I donít feel we ever suffered from any type of identity crisis, rather that we have embraced and relished it. Anyone can see it in our family; the colorful blend, the many hues of all the faces, and it all started generations ago- our own United Nations. There are many families like ours too, and itís good to know that these types of multi cultural and multi racial family units also exist in harmony and love.
So what are we? We are like the many jeweled kaleidoscope of many colors; a little bit of this, and a little bit of that, yet with a whole lot of everything else sprinkled in for good measure. We are Filipino but donít speak it, we have white blood in us but donít act like it, we grew up with black folks but our skin isnít, and the Hawaiian-Chinese connection was always in the mix.
As far as race relations go, who else could say that?