Photo of myself and friend Sophia

Growing Up Mixed: I Asked Multiple Multiracial Students About Their Upbringings

In being half Egyptian and half Filipino, growing up I always had this understanding that no one would ever truly know where I was coming from. My friend group mostly consisted of people that were Caucasian descent and along with this, being half Egyptian and half Filipino was and still is a rare breed. Thankfully, I had my brother and knew I was not fully alone. However, coming to UCLA, I have met some of the most diverse backgrounds, and luckily they happen to be some of my friends. Being multiracial, it is comforting to know that though there may not be a large population of "Egypinos," there are a lot of multiracial people now in my circle who have similar life experiences as me. I embrace who I am and love being mixed with two beautiful cultures that have made both my unique family and have made me, me. I seriously love it. I hope this article serves as a reminder to accept, respect and also ask one another where we each come from. That way we can all grow a deeper understanding of each other and possibly find similarities you might not even know you had.

Alec Anderson

Picture of Alec Anderson given by him

Her Campus at UCLA: What’s your mix?

Alec Anderson: I'm 25% black and 75% white. The Irish and German make up the 75%.

HC: What are you often mistaken for?

AA: I'm mostly mistaken for only being white.

HC: What was your biggest challenge growing up with a different background from most?

AA: Not being accepted from the black community.

HC: What ethnicity do you feel you embrace most? Why?

AA: From where I grew up and the schools I went to, majority were Black and Latinos. So I would more identify with the black community. Also, playing football had a big impact on that since the minority on the high school team was white.

HC: Were you ever teased or ashamed for being multiracial?

AA: I was never teased or ashamed.

HC: What makes you most proud about being mixed?

AA: Being able to connect with both races. I'm happy and proud to say that I am able to have a more diverse friend group because of my background.

HC: What do you love (or dislike) most about your mixed background?

AA: I love being able to know how both races are with traditions and history. In my family, it was very important to know and be educated about our historical background. My dad (who is half black) has taught me and my siblings how to be respectful of other races and beliefs. He grew up during the Civil Rights era and was actually sent to Vietnam because he asked a white woman on a date. So he really taught us to never judge a person.

HC: Any advice to someone who struggles with multiracial identity?

AA: Accept your race even though some people don't accept you. Because mixed kids are also a minority and I don't think that people notice them as a minority.

Sophia Lahmidi

Photo of Sophia Lahmidi given be her to use for interview with her.

HC: What’s your mix?

Sophia Lahmidi: 50% Moroccan from my dad's side and 50% white from my mom's side.

HC: What are you often mistaken for?

SL: A lot of people think I’m Latina/Hispanic.

HC: What was your biggest challenge growing up with a different background from most?

SL: One significant challenge that I had to face was the fact that my dad is Muslim. There were not a lot of people that I knew growing up who were exposed to the Muslim religion and when I met people who were it was almost comforting to know that they would not judge me, my sisters, or my dad. From a young age, I was able to notice people and how they reacted when I told them that my dad was Muslim and it was almost as if they disapproved. I felt like I had to hide that part of my life from certain people which was hard. It was pretty upsetting finding out that there were people out there who looked down upon my dad's beliefs and values especially because my dad is the most kindhearted and selfless person that I know.

HC: What ethnicity do you feel you embrace most? Why?

SL: I would say I really embrace my Moroccan ethnicity because it has had such a big impact on my life and the way I was raised. Moroccan culture holds great importance in selflessness, surrounding yourself with people you care about and love and really celebrating the positive things in life. I feel like this culture has made me the person I am today and instilled so many important values in myself. I know it makes me unique and it keeps my roots grounded, close to home and close to my dad.

HC: Were you ever teased or ashamed for being multiracial?

SL: I don’t think I have ever been teased but I have definitely felt ashamed when I was a lot younger. I hate to say it because I have grown so much and just know so much more now but when I was younger I sometimes felt like I had to hide it. I felt like I did not fit into a category of being one full ethnicity. I am not fully white and I am not necessarily African American, so it just made me feel like I didn’t belong in any category. Also with my dad being Muslim I sometimes felt that people were scared of him. With things on the news and events that took place throughout history it caused the Muslim religion to developed a negative connotation. I always wore a necklace of a hamsa (which is believed to give good luck and protection) but I used to hide it under my shirt because I was scared that people would see it and ask questions or judge me. It was important to me and something that I cherished and now I still wear it because it reminds me of my culture.

HC: What makes you most proud about being mixed?

SL: That I am lucky enough to be surrounded by two beautiful cultures that make me unique. The Moroccan culture has allowed me to have such an open mind and heart toward other people and other cultures. It has brought so much diversity into my life and has taught me to always be accepting and open to learning about other people’s ethnicities and what makes them who they are.

HC: What do you love (or dislike) most about your mixed background?

SL:  I love what my mixed background stands for. I am mixed because my parents were able to accept each other for their differences and instead focus on who they are as people and the values that they hold close. My family embraces accepting everyone for who they are regardless of their backgrounds or beliefs. I have learned through being mixed to always treat people with kindness and understanding in a world that can be filled with so much hate.

HC: Any advice to someone who struggles with multiracial identity?

SL: Really dig deep into what makes your ethnicity and your culture so important to you and your family. Remember the values that you cherish and how your ethnicity has shaped you into the person that you are today. Being different is beautiful and it adds so much depth to the world. Find the uniqueness in yourself and what you bring to the table. No one can be you and that is what makes you so special.

AJ Vasquez

Photo of AJ Vasquez

HC: What’s your mix?

AJ Vasquez: I'm 50% Mexican, 25% German and 25% Swiss. 

HC: What are you often mistaken for?

AJ: I would say people usually say I look Mexican, I sometimes rarely get a Hawaiian look though haha.

HC: What was your biggest challenge growing up with a different background from most?

AJ: Well, I grew up in a very Hispanic neighborhood, so the biggest challenge was probably not speaking Spanish. I looked the part but I didn't communicate like the rest of the people.

HC: What ethnicity do you feel you embrace most? Why?

AJ: Oh, Mexican for sure. Because I've been with my dad's family my entire life, and I've just been around the Mexican community, so those are the people I tend to gravitate to more.

HC: Were you ever teased or ashamed for being multiracial?

AJ: Maybe teased but never in a bad way. People would refer me to being a "fake Mexican."

HC: What makes you most proud about being mixed?

AJ: I get to experience two cultures. I get to be a part of the Mexican community with the different food and traditions, while also experiencing my mom's traditions and family gatherings.

HC: What do you love (or dislike) most about your mixed background?

AJ: I love that I am accepted in no matter what community I am in and not necessarily judged.  Also, I think that being successful in soccer has positively influenced both sides of my background. Because I'm doing something positive in my life I'm more accepted and respected.

HC: Any advice to someone who struggles with multiracial identity?

AJ: I would say to just be who you are most comfortable being. You don't need to change who you are to fit in. All you have to do is be yourself and your people will always gravitate to you.

Courtney FortiePhoto of Courtney Fortier given and provided by her to use

HC: What’s your mix?

Courtney Fortier: I am half Vietnamese a quarter Mexican and a quarter French.

HC: What are you often mistaken for?

CF: Sometimes people think I’m just Caucasian. Usually, people can tell I’m some kind of Asian mix but they can’t really place what kind.

HC: What was your biggest challenge growing up with a different background from most?

CF: I think the biggest challenge was feeling like I never really fit in anywhere. It seemed like even though I hung out around a lot of them, the Vietnamese kids saw me as not Asian enough to be fully part of their group. It’s the same thing with the other kids as well. I feel like it even happens with my own family sometimes. I went back to Vietnam over winter break and before I left my aunts and uncles were telling me that we would have an easier time at customs because my dad and I looked more like stereotypical white Americans. It also didn’t help that I didn’t really see any characters that had anything close to my particular mix in TV or movies. I remember being really excited watching Young Justice when I learned that one of the characters, Artemis, is half Caucasian and half Vietnamese. I didn’t even realize how much I wanted to see that until I noticed how excited I was about it.

HC: What ethnicity do you feel you embrace most? Why?

CF: I feel like I definitely embrace my Vietnamese side the most because most of that side of my family lives here in California. Because of that, I see them more often and end up participating in more of the holidays and traditions.

HC: Were you ever teased or ashamed for being multiracial?

CF:  I was never outright teased but I have had people gossip about me being my father‘s child from another marriage because I look more like him than my mother. That can be a little uncomfortable.

HC: What makes you most proud about being mixed?

CF: I think being mixed actually gives me a lot of appreciation for my parents. I know their backgrounds are pretty different because my dad was raised in Arizona and my mom grew up in Saigon. How they overcame cultural barriers and put in a little more work than some other couples may have to in order to understand each other is something that I find very admirable.

HC: What do you love (or dislike) most about your mixed background?

CF: I just love being able to participate in so many different cultures. Who doesn’t love extra holidays right? Being in a unique position to compare the Tết festival and the Dia de los Muertos festival is a lot of fun. I also remember really enjoying watching my dad’s hockey games when I was younger, which is a very French Canadian thing. Finally, eating all kinds of different good food is definitely a bonus.

HC: Any advice to someone who struggles with multiracial identity?

CF: I would definitely find other people who share the same experience to talk about it with. I think having my little sister there to laugh with me about all the weird experiences we have because we’re mixed really helps.

Mixed or full we can all respect one another's backgrounds. Asking questions about one's background allows us to learn, yet also better understand where each of us is coming from. Let's embrace what a diverse world we all get to live in and be a part of.