Say what? Yep – you read that right. NativeAfrITalPuertoLankin. Let me break that down. Native. Afr. Ital. Puerto. Lankin.
When people ask me “what” my daughter is I tell them a human being, female. When they then blush from embarrassment and clarify by asking her nationality I tell them NativeAfrItalPuertoLankin. No further questions.
We are quite the multicultural family in so many ways. First, there is our nationality. I am ½ Puerto Rican and ½ Italian. There is a little splash of something on my Italian side but we’ll call it ½ for simplicity’s sake. My husband is ½ Sri Lankin (aka Ceylonese), 3/8 African, and 1/8 Native American. That makes my daughter ¼ Italian, ¼ Puerto Rican, ¼ Sri Lankin, 6/16 African, and 1/16 Native American. She is an exotic multiracial mutt. But I think it sounds better to call her a NativeAfrItalPuertoLankin.
My mother and father grew up in the United States. My mother- in-law grew up in Sri Lanka. (She came to the United States as an adult). My father-in-law is from the United States but goes to Africa a lot.
My parents were both raised Catholic and so was I. My paternal grandma grew up with some witch doctor stuff mixed in with Catholicism. Sweet. My mother-in-law is Buddist (which I closely relate to) by culture only. My father- in-law is Muslim and my husband was raised Muslim but not longer is practicing. How crazy of a religious/spiritual mix is that? My daughter is not being raised with a specific religious identity. That would start a holy war in our collective family. But that is a whole other post. (For those of you ready to save us, don’t worry. We believe in God but choose to practice our faith in our own home and without identifying with a specific house of worship. I also like to incorporate Buddism, Taoism and the more philosophical religions as well. They have a lot to offer.)
My skin color and facial features are that of a Northern Italian. AKA – I’m white. My husband has some of the darkest skin I have personally seen but that is where the African ends. His build and facial features are that of a Sri Lankin. My daughter is gorgeous. For real. I’m not even going to be modest here. NativeAfrItalPuertoLankin in the perfect mix. She has creamy light cocoa skin and is a wonderful cross between Puerto Rican and Sri Lankin in her facial features. Her brown hair is soft and curly with hints of auburn. She really got the best of all of us.
If my daughter didn’t hang from my neck constantly, no one would believe I was her mother. And that bothers me. A lot of people ask me if I am her mother. That is rude to me. Don’t worry about who I am.
People look at us funny when we are all together. It’s as if they are trying to figure out who belongs to who. I like to tell them that my husband is my brother and we are raising his sister’s cousin’s daughter. Again, no further questions.
It has never bothered me that people give us sideways glances, try to figure out how we fit together, wonder what drove us together as a family, etc. I can ignore the perplexed looks. What does bother me is that people still have a problem with this beautiful, natural blending of cultures. Who cares? Get over it! Newsflash…there are very few people who are 100% of anything living in the United States these days. We have cross pollinated out of the sheer need to continue our species. Well that’s not entirely true. There is the whole “you can’t help who you fall in love with” argument. There is also the “guys can’t keep it in the pants and girls fail to insist upon a condom” argument. Again, another post.
I did not go out searching for a “black man” to marry and have children with. My husband had never dated a “white girl” before he met me. But we clicked, we fell in love, and we are a family. Some people don’t like that. Some family didn’t like that. Some people didn’t like it at first but have come to accept it. Some never will. I can deal with all of that. However, I DO NOT want my daughter to have to deal with that. She should not have to. I want her to live in a world where no one cares about skin color and that it is never mentioned in conversation. I have a dream…
We have struggles as a multicultural family. I admit, I have no clue how my husband feels living in a town where most of our immediate neighbors are (and I say this will all do respect) rednecks. They have all come to love him but boy was there some door locking going on when we first moved in. He is still hesitant to go certain places without me. That makes me sad and disappointed in humanity.
Unlike my husband, I do not have
a chip on my shoulder any reservations about going places or hanging out with people who look different than me. Everyone looks different than me. I do not have an identical twin therefore, there is no one identical to me. So see, skin color does not matter and it should never come into play. Skin is just an outer layer to protect the rest of us. As long as it is doing its job it should not matter what color or tone it is.
But the world we live in…not everyone sees it that way. That is sad. Beyond sad.
I want my daughter to grow up celebrating all of the different aspects of the cultures that have come together to create her. I want her to swim in the splendor of being such a diverse and worldly child who has such a rich background to draw from. I want her to understand the traditions, the values, the holidays, the religions, the history, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful of everything that makes her the person she is. My little NativeAfrItalPuertoLankin is an inspiration to me to be a mother who engages her in all of the traditions that her ancestors were a part of. I want her to sink deeply into her cultures. I want her to meet “her people” and celebrate their shared country and everything that makes it what it is. I want her to taste the native foods, smell the native flowers, behold the beauty of the landscapes, connect to the native animals, and see that no matter what, the sky is the same shade of blue and the rain that falls upon the earth is wet no matter where it lands. I want her to see that being a multicultural child is a blessing but completely normal and ho hum at the same time.
I have a dream…
Yours in diversity and the celebration of it,