An Essay on Three IDs

Ten minutes had passed and I was stuck on the same question. Which of the three bubbles am I supposed to fill? It was one of the most complicated questions I faced in my life: the question of race. “Which choice best describes you?“

Chinese? True, I have the physical traits of my parents who are both Chinese. 

However, I was born in Washington. So technically I should fill in Chinese-American. It was there when my feelings arose. “Felipe, there is barely anything you know about your legal hometown, Taxco. You have never been back there after your birth,” I told myself. I reassessed my choice.

I began recalling the community where I grew up, Zacatecas. Most of my friends speak Spanish; I eat enchiladas and I listen to banda; the fiery lyrics of the Mexican Anthem echoes my pride. It turns out that my heart does indeed belong to Mexico. However, when I would first encounter other Mexican-Americans, they would jolt in curiosity or gaze with suspicion. 

It was impossible to extinguish the burning enigma that is my identity.

Fortunately, everything became clearer in high school when I moved to the US. I was classified as the “Asian Felipe” amongst my peers; I still embraced and honored my Mexican culture, since my mind works in Spanish. At home, I attempt to recount my day to my grandparents in Taishan, my family’s native language, and I practice Buddhism while living in my birthland, America. 

Sometimes, I do not resonate with any of these worlds. Differentiated by my physical appearance in Mexico, and ostracized by my lack of fluency in Chinese here, I define myself as a Third Culture Kid, yet here I stand converging across the various cultures that makes me more than a “math genius” or a “lazy machista”.

 While I could blend three entities of mine and become part of the melting pot, I instead choose to keep each unique trait of my multiethnicity to become a salad bowl, with all of its ingredients mixed together, yet separated enough to taste the individual flavor of each one.