If you thought this post was going to be all about my undying love and passion for the Harry Potter series, sadly, you were wrong. I’ll save that one for another day This one is about being a real life “mudblood,” a person of mixed background, in today’s world. I originally wrote out this post including every single thing I think/feel about being mixed and all of my complex experiences and it came out to 6 pages long! It really is such a complex and, sometimes contradicting, world and there’s just so much to it. I decided to just wipe the whole thing and start from scratch and keep things simple, because ain’t nobody got time for all that.
My dad was born and raised in the U.S. His background is European. My mother was born and raised in Brazil. Her background includes African, Native Amazonian, and also European. This means my brothers and I are all mixed. Being mixed can be a lonely road to travel, especially during adolescence when most of us are struggling to find out who we really are. That was probably the toughest time for me in dealing with this. Many people who are mixed, including myself, often profess feeling like they don’t really belong anywhere. I often get treated like I am less of an American because I’m brown, and I also get treated like I am less of a Brazilian because my ability to speak Portuguese is very limited/spotty.
As of now, the ideal “all-American” is a white blonde-haired, blue-eyed person. Almost everything in the media tells us that if we aren’t white, thin, blonde, and blue-eyed, we are less beautiful and are somehow less of an American. Think of the term “all-American girl.” What immediately came to your mind? It was probably a pretty blonde white girl. I have been made to feel like a foreigner often in my life, by people who honestly had no idea the things they were calling me marginalized me and made me feel like they were separating me from themselves; being called things like “exotic” and “Spanish girl” and constantly being asked where I’m “from.” When someone who looks like the ideal American is asked where they are from, people usually mean what part of the U.S. were they born in or grew up in. When people ask me, and a lot of other mixed people like me, they usually actually want to know where our “people” are from (yes, I’ve actually been asked where my “people” are from before). When I tell people I was born in Idaho or grew up in Florida they often keep pressing me for more, “but what about before that? But, like, before that? Like, you know, your people. Your parents. What country are they from?” And I can’t even count the number of times people have asked me to start speaking Spanish or have just walked right up to me speaking Spanish to me because of the way I look (in case you aren’t yet aware, in Brazil they don’t speak Spanish. They speak Portuguese) without even knowing me. I get so many incredibly invasive questions from strangers. People seem to be really put off by the fact that they can’t “place me” or “categorize me” immediately by looking at me. For some reason, people in this country are so obsessed with race that it makes people crazy to not be able to pinpoint someone else’s background. I get complete strangers constantly bombarding me with questions and wanting every detail of my entire ethnic background, like somehow satisfying their curiosity is more important than my privacy and comfort. It’s awkward to be put on the spot, but I’ve kind of gotten used to it in this regard. Sometimes however, I still get caught off guard.
It’s complicated to be a mixed person because you find that in different points in your life, you identify in different ways. People who are mixed often come up with their own terms to describe themselves, like “blaxican,” and this is totally fine. People also will find that in one point in their life they choose to identify as only one race or ethnicity, and later on they decide to identify with all parts of who they are as equally important in regards to their identity. The one thing people who are not mixed themselves need to understand, is that it is completely up to the individual to decide how they identify. You can’t really tell someone who they are or aren’t based on your own ideas of what you think they are, when you haven’t walked in their shoes and known their experiences. It is really unfair to think that way.
Here’s a tip for those of you who know and love someone from a mixed background: get to know their other culture(s) and how they identify because it is important to them and a huge part of who they are as a person. Ask about their experiences. They will love that you are making the effort to know them better and would love to teach you more about the things they love that are very important to them.
I love my American side and my Brazilian side as equals. I am a very patriotic American and love this beautiful and wonderful country we live in. I am so incredibly proud to be an American and am so grateful to have grown up here. I am also incredibly proud of my Brazilian side. Brazil is also an amazing and beautiful country. Sometimes, when I think about Brazil, I love it so much and so hard if it were a person I probably would squeeze it to death. I love the country of Brazil so much it reminds me of the moments I just want to hug my children to death because I am so in love with everything about them. For real. I always get all teary-eyed when I watch the openings to games in the World Cup when they sing the Brazilian national anthem. When I visit Brazil or listen to Brazilian music, I feel like I can feel the country inside of me, beating and pulsing through my veins. It is so much a part of who I am and so important to me. It absolutely kills me that I can’t just transport all my friends and family to Brazil so they can know what I know, see what I see, and love what I love so deeply.
So, for fun, here are some fun facts and things I love about Brazil, my other “half”:
-Brazil is actually about the same size as the continental U.S. The U.S. is bigger in size only with the additions of Hawaii and Alaska. A lot of people don’t realize this.
-Sao Paulo, Brazil is the third largest city in the world. It is ginormous and is sometimes called the city without end because as you fly over it in an airplane it really seems like the city goes on forever and ever (I’ve seen this for myself, it is awe-inspiring).
-Brazil’s two largest rival cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are often said to be similar to L.A. and N.Y.C., respectively, in their nature.
-The area where my mom is from in Brazil is considered the country, and people from there speak with a thick, and sometimes hard to understand, country accent, similar to people from the south here. Sometimes even other Brazilians don’t understand some of the phrases and pronunciations spoken in the northeastern part of Brazil. Fortaleza (where she is from) is still a pretty big and well-known (in Brazil, at least) city though.
This is one of my favorite Brazilian songs and I found a version of the music video with English translation. It is not my favorite translation though. I’ve seen one that translates the sentiments better, but the video itself is not very good. So this is what we’ll make do with. It is such a sweet sweet song.
I also love this one because the video very well represents my love for Brazil and the people in Brazil: