Born and raised in the Bay Area, this environment is all I really know. I’ve never experienced somewhere outside of California consciously; I was only a child when I went to visit Honduras to see family. My father is an Oakland native, second generation, and my mother makes our (my siblings and I) generation the first. I was always aware that there were differences between people, but it wasn’t until I was around 11 years old that I realized people judge me based on how I look rather than how I present myself. I lived in blissful ignorance.
I’d ask my parents what I am and they give me one word: American. Yet I don’t feel like an American sometimes. I know I legally am one, and oftentimes I’m proud of myself for not being British, but in my bones I feel as though I don’t necessarily fit the stereotype.
The other day, someone asked me where I was from. I was sitting at a bar with my aunt and sister, drinking some of the smoothest hot chocolate I could have ever imagined. It was raining outside and we initially entered with the intent of fleeing from the wetness of San Francisco, as well as to get some of their famous Carrot Cake. The question was innocent enough, and oddly enough he was also the owner of the bar. I answered “Here, San Francisco!” An awkward pause ensued for about 5 seconds before he asked where I’m from “culturally.” Being mixed, I answered in a series of percentages, I said something along the lines of, “I’m half Honduran and half Filipino” and the night continued. The thing that left a mark on me was the way he asked. He was a sweet older gentleman, and towards the end of the evening he gave us free t-shirts.
Something I always keep is a checklist of is how people ask me my ethnicity. Most of the time people ask me if I’m Mexican, and I simply respond with a “No, I’m Honduran,” and the following question or statement is something in the fashion of “Where is that?” or “Oh okay yeah!” I know that in reality they don’t really care enough to actually want to see it be pointed out on a map, they just wanted to see if their guess of my ethnicity is in the ballpark of what I actually am.
I’m also Filipino, but I don’t think I’ve ever been recognized as one. I don’t have any defining features that would make me stand out as a Filipina. I, as my cousins and sister put it, am “the most mixed” because I guess I don’t have any striking Honduran features either. I don’t have the nose bridge on my mom’s side, and I don’t have the non-existent nose bridge that my dad’s side has, I have a mixed nose. The only way I know I wasn’t switched at birth is because of my mom’s eyebrows that I’ve inherited. But having amazing food at every family event comes at a price, and this is the price I would pay to have the blood that I do.