The issue of race has become a hot button topic in the current political climate. People are being forced to be aware of their own racial identity and be conscious of race while interacting with other people. Chapter 9 of ‘Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?’ Tatum (2017) relates closely to my life. I was born in Switzerland, but we moved to the United States when I was seven years old.
My dad is Swiss-German, and my mother is Puerto Rican but had moved to Switzerland, where she met my father. I believe that being in America has made me more conscious of the issue of race than I would have anywhere else in the world. In reference to ‘Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?’ Tatum (2017), I will discuss my racial identity, mixed race, and how it has developed over time.
Swiss culture has greatly influenced me having spent the first seven years of my life in Switzerland. However, I identify as a White Hispanic to keep in touch with my parents’ racial identities. Keeping such an identity has been quite hard, especially due to the role of the One-Drop Rule. This is a criterion commonly used in Asian and European culture to maintain the purity of their race.
In my case, to maintain the purity and superiority of the Swiss culture, the rule would have me identified as Puerto Rican. According to ‘Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?’ Tatum (2017), the rule causes much suffering among mixed-race children by making them give up one of their parent’s racial identities. For my parents to protect me from such a predicament, they tried to make me blend into American culture and let go of both cultures.
I began developing my racial awareness when I was about five years when we still lived in Switzerland. My friends would often make fun of my mother’s appearance and the way she speaks. They may not have had and understanding of race at the time, but they understood that she was different from their parents. This made me conscious of the uniqueness of my family.
Things did not change when we moved to American. My dad, due to his heavy Swiss-German accent, was called a Nazi. The two incidents played a vital role in shaping my racial identity. I thought that if my parents could be judged because of the way they look and speak, then I would never feel accepted anywhere in the world. This, though, was the basis of my identity confusion.
As I have grown up and socialized with diverse background people, I have come to appreciate my racial identity. The pressure of identifying with either of my parents’ heritages has subsided over the years. I can now comfortably interact with my Caucasian, Hispanic, and even my African American peers, in addition to sharing my experiences and encounters concerning race with any of them. I have come to accept and love myself. ‘Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?’ Tatum (2017) has made me understand that race is nothing but a social contract.
Our racial differences do not exist in objective reality. We look different because our ancestry evolved to survive in diverse climatic conditions. I will continue educating myself and others on racial discrimination unwarranted in society right now. I will also continue learning about the various aspects of my parents’ and other cultures in the world. As a White Hispanic parent in the future, I will apply my experiences with race in guiding my children on how to live in a world that is often filled with discrimination and prejudice.
Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria Reference
Tatum, B. D. (2017). Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria?: And other conversations about race. Basic Books.