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[personal profile] dreamingfifi
My late American literature class has been enjoyable thus far. On the most part, all of the lit classes I've taken were focused on what old Christian white guys thought. The professor is Vietemese-American, and has us reading from a lot of female authors and a lot of non-white authors. It's really refreshing to get a break from the standarized narative about old Christian white guys. It's also made me wonder about what I'm classified as, or what I should classify myself as, or if I should at all.

Much of my life, I was in a Northern-European immigrant community, 3 or 4 generations old. They were Dutch, German, English, and French. Compared to them, I wasn't white. I have olive-toned skin that darkens quickly under the sun, brown eyes, and dark brown hair. They were largely blonds, with pallid skin that roasted in the sunlight. My last-name was Italian, and the principle of the middle school never learned how to say it. (My last name was Albini. As far as Italian surnames go, that's an easy one. No idea what gave him so much trouble.)

In my grandparent's generations, only one of them was considered white. My nonna is Italian, and in the 50's and 60's, Italians were still facing a lot of descrimination. One of my nonna's friends showed her their lease for their apartment. It said that the landlords wouldn't rent any apartments to Italians. My grandfather, from whom I got my Italian last-name, was part Italian, Irish, and Cherokee. My grandmother (my mother's mother) was classified as a German-Jew fled Germany as a small child because of the Nazis.

The definition of "white" seems to be expanding. My grandparents, who faced descrimination in their youth, now are classified as white... to some. That racist guy who ranted on my doorstep for an hour clearly didn't think so, but most these days seem to think of me as white. To my Asian friends, definitely, I'm white. To anyone else - I don't know, because it's never come up. It's a taboo subject.

But after 9/11, my father got searched every time he flew on an airplane anywhere. I went to France with the French Club, and on the way back, I was the only one who got searched. In southern France, my peers joked that I was the only one who looked like I could be from there, because I was tall, tanned, and dark haired.

But all of this is about how others have defined me. Up until now, I've resisted defining myself. I cheekily write in "American Mutt" when asked for my race or ethnicity, because I'm not actually certain what I'm expected to write. My ancestry isn't purely anything. So, I guess, "American Mutt" is as good a label as any.
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