Being Biracial: The Best of Both Worlds

In 1998, my White Jewish father tied the knot with my Guatemalan Christian mother (I know, that’s a bit to take in). A couple of years later, I was born! Growing up, I didn’t see any complications with being biracial. It wasn’t even discussed until elementary school, when my classmates started to point out the differences between me and my parents. My mother has dark brown (almost black) hair, dark brown eyes and an olive skin tone. On the other hand, my father has green eyes and pale skin. However, I have plain brown hair, brown eyes and pale skin with a touch of yellow. Now, as elementary school kids, I can understand their confusion. Once I began to explain to them how I was mixed, they would ask me questions such as “Are you sure you aren’t adopted?” or “Can you speak Spanish?” to which I continued to explain how I was simply biracial and that I wasn’t adopted. 

As I continued to grow, I noticed that there was a distance between myself and both sides of my family. My father’s side of the family had extremely light brown hair with green or hazel eyes. My mother’s side was extremely tan with black hair and dark brown eyes. On my mother’s side, everyone spoke Spanish, including my cousins that were my age. My brother and I were the only ones on that side of the family who only had one Spanish-speaking parent. Unlike my household, everyone else spoke Spanish to each other in their homes. Everyone in my mother’s family would have conversations in Spanish, leaving my brother and me out of the loop.  

When I was seven years old, I officially moved from California to Florida. I moved in with my Spanish-speaking grandparents, or abuelos, that I still live with to this day. While my parents were at work, I would stay at home with my abuelos. During this time, I encountered a language barrier. At the time, my brother and I only spoke English. On the other hand, my abuelos only spoke Spanish. Throughout the years, my brother and I learned to speak Spanish through them, and now, I would say we are fluent.  

Staying with my abuelos allowed me to access the Guatemalan culture that I had known very little about while living in California. Since my abuelos only knew how to make Guatemalan food, I learned about the different dishes connected to my culture, such as Hilachas (Guatemalan shredded beef in a tomato sauce). I was able to learn about my ancestry and where I come from.   From then on, instead of feeling lost in my identity, I accepted it. I realized that even though I am 50% of two completely different cultures, I am 100% grateful to belong to both. 

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