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Report from the Bahamas Essay

KatarinaKF's picture

I am half Mexican and my other half consists of Greek, Russian, and Hungarian. I stick with saying “Half-Mexican and Greek”. I identify as Mexican because I am more involved with my maternal Mexican side. I am Greek but I am not as integrated in the culture as much as my Mexican side. 

 Two years ago during a friendly neighborhood Halloween party, I was struck speechless after someone commented about my ethnicity. A neighbor and I were talking and began discussing about our ethnicities. He was curious about mine because I have curly hair but light olive skin. I told him I was half Mexican and half Greek and he suddenly became more intrigued. He was also Greek and started questioning about how involved I was with the culture. 

“Have you ever been to the Greek Orthodox church? Do you speak Greek at home?” he questioned. 

I replied, “No I am not religious therefore I do not go to church. And my father is not fluent in Greek so I was never taught Greek”.  

“Oh so you have never been to any Greek festivals?” 

“No I have not!” 

“Well, then you’re not Greek.” 

I was speechless. How do you answer such a statement? NOT GREEK? Who is he to question my heritage? My biological paternal grandfather was born and raised in Greece and his primary language is Greek. Therefore, I am Greek. Who is he to define my ethnic identity?  

Yet after this encounter, I began to question who I really was. My name is Katarina Karris-Flores and I am half Mexican and half Greek. But am I really Mexican and Greek? I have never been to either country. I visit California every year to spend time with my Mexican side of the family. Although I have never met my Greek side of the family. Should I truly consider myself Greek if I was not integrated within the culture?  

At first, the White and Jewish male student wanted to connect with June on the basis of language. He believed in the survival of the Yiddish language, as did June about the survival of Black English. Then during a conversation, their relationship had “moved away from each other, even while we continued to talk” (Jordan pg. 44). The disconnect occurred because “I had learned that this student does not care one way or the other about currently jeopardized Federal Student Loan Programs because, as he explained to me, they do not affect him. He does not need financial help outside his family. My son, however, is Black. And I am the only family help available to him and that means if Reagan succeeds in eliminating Federal programs to aid minority students, he will have to forget about furthering his students, or he or I or both will have to hit the numbers pretty big” (Jordan pg. 43).

Similarly to June’s encounter with her Jewish student, my neighbor and I did connect at first because we both had a similar heritage. But thereafter disconnected because he found a difference on how we both defined ethnic identity. To a similar extent, I was offended by his remarks just like June was offended by Olive’s assumption that she was married to a man.

Society has ingrained humans to wear colored lenses. When we are wearing our colored lenses, you differentiate all of the various colors of people’s skin. But once you make a conscious effort to remove your colored lenses, you learn to appreciate and respect people's diversity.  Also, you begin to look forward to expanding your perspective on humanity by not dismissing the uniqueness of other people.

Why is it that society places human beings in different cultural groups? Yes, different regions around the world have different languages spoken and traditions celebrated. Everyone has the same color blood. We are all human beings. Therefore, aren’t we all more similar than different?