What I've Learned About Identity as a Mutliethnic American

Living as a multi-ethnic American in the 21st century, it is difficult to answer the question, "who am I?" There’s no right or wrong answer. Who you are is who you think you are. However, the opinions of others may influence your declaration of who you are, as was the case for me.

My dad comes from a large Americanized Irish Catholic family while my mom comes from Mexico. While religion doesn’t play a large factor in my life, these cultural differences have made me who I am, but as to the description, for the longest time, I had no idea.

When plagued with the question of “who are you” I would always hesitate. I never knew what to say because this individual or institution would see me differently from what I declared myself to be.


Growing up, I learned English and Spanish, mainly because my grandmother was always around speaking with my mom in their native tongue. But as I grew older and went to school, English became my more dominant language and Spanish became second-tier.

Now I am among many of Spanish heritage speakers who learned Spanish in fragments and can not fluently read or write but still have a cultural and/or linguistic connection with ride ranges of proficiency in the language, according to the Center for Applied Linguistics.

While I have no real connection to my Irish side - except on St. Patrick’s Day - my Mexican-American side is very prevalent. When evaluating my values and priorities, I can’t say they align completely with American ones nor Mexican ones. I am a hybrid and I shouldn’t be asked to chose one or the other. A recent DNA test even highlighted the fact that I am many things and I shouldn’t be ashamed to give a long list.

The truth is that the question “who are you?” should not be based on the judgments of others but on what you feel that you truly align with culturally, ethnically or linguistically.


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