I feel like a book that’s hard to recommend because you’d have to attach the disclaimer “I know it looks boring, but trust me it’s interesting.” I am tri-cultural. My genetics are a mutt-mixture of Hawaiian, Mexican,and Japanese. But more importantly, my culture and history is a smorgasbord of various attributes that I was lucky to inherit. However, with my olive skin tone and red freckles, I look caucasian. I’ve always been doubted and I understand why. It’s an odd mixture, I look nothing like my parents, and my last name is Foster.
Recently, I’ve been looking into financial aid for college and I realized I can apply for minority scholarships. The first response I got from a peer was “You’re not a minority because you look white.” “That doesn’t make any sense” I replied, “It’s in my blood.” They went on to say that it isn’t fair for me to gain the benefits of being multicultural without having had faced any prejudice. My initial reaction was understanding because — to be completely honest with myself — I don’t practice deep cultural traditions. I’ve been to Hawaii once and never to Mexico or Japan which is okay with me because I’d be lost there anyways, since I only speak English.
My second reaction was anger. Society has always treated me as if I don’t have a substantial claim to my ethnicities and for a while I allowed myself to believe them. I’m aware that I’m white-washed but my heritage is still mine.
The way I see it, minority scholarships are a very public way for the government to mend any wrong-doings that created setbacks for an entire race economically or opportunistically. Hence, the immense publicity for Native-American scholarships and African-American scholarships. From this point of view, minority scholarships are more dependent upon the struggle of the predecessor than the immediate scholarship recipient.
Not only for minority scholarship qualifications, but for my own feeling of worth I have to think this way. I have to justify to myself that my genetics are true. Every time someone flashes one of those questioning glances towards me I have to remember the rich history of my family that brought me any opportunity I’ve ever had. My maternal Mexican grandmother’s childhood of fleeing from the turmoil and destruction of religious persecution. My paternal Japanese grandmother’s separation from her family and removal from her Japanese school because she was on Lānaʻi during World War II.
I haven’t struggled against the racism that afflicts many people who are singled out by their appearance but society has done it’s best to give me a unique dose of prejudice.