Monday, June 15, 2009

What the frig am I!!? ~ Just a rant!

I used to ask this question quite a bit as a child! My father is 100% Puerto Rican, his family is from Arroyo..... My mother is 100% Sicilian, her family hails from Calabria!

When filling out the census forms in elementary school, I was always stumped!!! What the frig am I!? My mother would INSIST Caucasian...... My father would INSIST Hispanic!! Needless to say they were never a help and I always felt confused and conflicted! I am proud of both of my heritages...... so why isn't there a mixed category!!?? Come on people, we have a half black / half white president!!!! IT'S FRIGGEN TIME!!!!!

This week in school my daughter was presented with the same dilemma.... Upon filling out the census form, Emma checked HISPANIC~! The obviously not too informed teacher (for lack of a better term) approached Miss Em and said......"Sweetie..... you're white.... See this box CAUCASIAN....... That means white!! You should check that!" Now not being there but knowing Miss Em..... I can imagine her face....... "I'm not WHITE!!!! I'm Hispanic..... I'm brown!!!!"

Miss Em has a diagnosis of SPLD ~ Semantic Pragmatic Language Disorder ~ Which sometimes makes it hard for her to understand what the frig you're talking about, but allows her to let you have it!! This obviously not too informed teacher (for lack of a better term) must have assumed Emily was not understanding her! "No, honey, your name is Prince ~ See the vowel at the end!? That makes you Italian!!"
Now who the frig has a processing disorder!!!??? WTF!!! Hello..... a vowel at the end..... not that the word PRINCE wouldn't be an immediate indicator of it's ENGLISH heritage, but the vowel is silent!!!!!! Miss Em stood her ground...... "I am not white, I am Puerto Rican...... I'm brown, Hispanic!!!" One child stood up and said...... "Puerto Rican is not Hispanic!!" Emma still stood her ground...... "I AM PUERTO RICAN!!" "I AM HISPANIC"

Of course in the end, Miss Em won...... She always does! But WTF!!!??? Parents teach your children who they are!!!! Let them be proud of their heritage...... Emily knows shes part English, Part Sicilian, AND Part Hispanic........ she has chosen to be all and to CHOOSE her Hispanic culture as her CHECKED BOX!!

Teachers...... learn your vowels and don't talk down or condescendingly to your student...... They're going to be wiping your ass and giving you meds someday...... Trust me, you should have seen my 11Th grade English teacher's face when he realized I was his Medical Assistant after his surgery........PRICELESS!!!!


Diana said...

Woooow - Prince = Italian???? I hate that stupid question on the census form anyway! It should be multiple choice!

RonanJames said...

You forgot that she's part FABULOUS too!! I love me some Miss Em!!!!

HanamiGallery said...

i wish i could check boxes. i always feel a bit sad when i just check caucasian. and i wish there were percent boxes next to those too...i would have half the list checked off! hahahahah

alamodestuff said...

I couldn't agree more! When I was small and adults asked me what I was, my response was "I'm human. What are you?" Out of the mouths of babes (I'm 1/2 Vietnamese and 1/2 mutt, I mean American).

I'm always jolted back into reality when I hear stories like this in this day and age. At least we do have a multiracial president now, which in my mind is the truest representation of America!

Good for Em for standing her ground.

Oh, and my 7 year old's 2nd grade teacher assumed I was Korean recently (when another mother came to class to discuss her adopted Korean daughter's heritage. This after I came to class around the holidays to talk about Vietnamese new year. Argh!!

Kristin said...

I had dinner Saturday night with David (half Vietnamese and half white) and an out of town guest (half Thai and half white) and we had a huge discussion on this.

Interesting to hear that people have said to both of them that they're considered "just white" as if that's a compliment! "Oh well, you're not like them." Huh? Someone should be flattered by that?

I hope your daughter's teacher is a blog reader!

Tanner Glass said...

Go Miss Em, Go!!!!! Good for her. And I'm pretty certain that Prince is not Italian.