No Longer Half.
“What are you?”
If you’ve heard this countless times, you understand.
Constantly being forced to define yourself. As if you can’t be understood until you’re “figured out”. Racial ambiguity.
My reply to this question has notoriously been, “I’m CanIndian.” The amusing imaginary word masks the shame of feeling compelled to explain why I’m not white nor Indian enough. “I’m half-Canadian, half-Indian.”
And the response, regardless of who is asking, is always some sound of realization. An “oooooh”, or “yeaaaaah, I see that.”
Well, why can’t you just see….me?
Recently, however, I’ve decided to stop declaring that I’m half of anything. Saying that I’m ‘half’ of either of my ethnicities makes me feel like I’m not whole, just as I am.
Yet I am whole. More than enough. A beautiful, intertwined combo, fortunate enough to have experienced both cultures growing up.
My mixed friends, I propose we stop feeling the need to prove our identity to others or (most importantly) ourselves. Stop feeling like we’re not [insert your ethnicity here] enough to claim that origin. We are no less of one of our cultures just because we’re made up of two or more.
My new response to this tiresome question?
“I’m Saleema. What are you?”