ESCHLEMAN: Stop invalidating Métis children
I remember sitting in my Spanish class in high school and my classmates asked me, “Why are you taking Spanish if you are Hispanic?” You should be fluent. And yes, I am Hispanic. My mother is an immigrant from Colombia and is bilingual. I didn’t grow up speaking Spanish.
My father, born in the United States, is not bilingual and my mother did not want to exclude my father if we could speak Spanish without him. When I told people I wasn’t bilingual, I had that puzzled look, like I wasn’t really Hispanic, like I wasn’t meeting their expectations of what a Hispanic person should be.
In class, I would be afraid of appearing white or of making a mistake. Because if I did, then I wouldn’t really be a Hispanic person, would I? I felt invalidated, and that’s a problem.
The company perpetuates what Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls “the unique story. “Adichie defines” one story “as when society” shows a people as one thing, as one thing, over and over again, and that is what it becomes. ”
Adichie provides multiple examples of Western culture presenting minorities as a single attribute, presenting Africans as powerless or Mexicans as dangerous immigrants. And, Adichie’s definition of a single story also applies to the invalidation of mixed identities.
I interviewed Peristera (Peri) Vikatos, a junior at Rutgers, who is half Korean and half Greek. Peri grew up going to Greek school and said that she “was always the only child in the class, which was something different”, which led to exclusion and “terrible insults and insults “for not being entirely Greek.
Peri describes how this insensitivity is rooted in the fact that âpeople have such a hard time dealing with any sort of nuance, whether it’s gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity. Like, people always want to put you in a box, they always want something from you. When there is no room for the gray area, there is no room for you to say that “I am not just one thing, I can be several things, or identify with several cultures. .
And Peri describes how this phenomenon “occurs everywhere and occurs on both sides”, those outside of his culture and those who are part of it, although it can be assumed that those inside “know your past “and” accept you “.
I also interviewed Peri’s friend Anastasia (Ana) Matano, a second year student at Baruch College, who is half Japanese and half Serbian. Ana describes how on the white side of her family she is âwhite firstâ¦ then Asianâ, but if she ever goes to Japan, it’s like people say to her, âoh, you’re not really Japanese. As if she is “pretending or scrolling like someone who is Japanese” when she is really Japanese.
Ana also recounted how she went to a very white private college, and people would ask her, âAre you good at math? You are Japanese.
This made her question her identity throughout high school and ask herself, “Why am I not good at these things, as I should be?” Even though being Asian has nothing to do with one’s math skills. But society makes a person believe that they must fit the stereotypes applied to their cultural group, or that they do not belong.
A novel that dismantles stereotypes is Tommy Orange’s “There There”. “There There” tells the stories of several native figures who live in Oakland, California. These characters do not live on reserves and many of them are mixed, with an Aboriginal parent and a non-Aboriginal parent.
The novel explores how each character connects to their Indigenous background and how the discrimination and violence imposed on the Indigenous community inevitably follows each generation.
âOut Thereâ is important because it illustrates how mixed people often have to connect to their culture in ways that society does not highlight and how they are still affected by generational discrimination.
Peri and Ana both spoke about how they feared for themselves and their families when hate crimes against Asians increased during the height of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Even though they identify themselves as bleachers, their families do not. A parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle could easily have been threatened.
It reminded me of my family members who were laughed at for their accents. It reminded me of a boy who told me in sixth grade that my house must collapse because I’m so poor and my family must be stupid since I’m Colombian.
The reason it’s important to validate instead of questioning people’s identities is that people have enough self-doubt. Invalidation comes from those who are not in one’s own group or family and those who are, but we must strive to make people feel accepted. Why the instinct to invalidate instead of inviting?
Generation Z is the most racially and ethnically diverse generation to date. Knowing how to interact with diverse people is important, especially as our society becomes more and more mixed. Empathize with stereotypes perpetuated by society and the media. And if you have a mixed identity, you are valid. You belong.
Sara Eschleman is a first year of Rutgers Business School with a specialization in Marketing and a minor in English. His column, “Shower Thoughts”, airs every Thursday.
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