"Soda Bread & Platanos" (The Pauw Wow)

The Pauw Wow (Saint Peter's University Student Newspaper); Published Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

The Pauw Wow (Saint Peter's University Student Newspaper); Published Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

As with many stories, a man and a woman walk into a room and start the strange and joyous yet difficult journey of love. The woman, white and of Irish descent, in this story makes the first move by placing a warm, gentle hand upon the unsuspecting man’s leg. She is enticed by his Dominican looks and caramel-skin complexion, which she finds “exotic.” The man, while taken aback by this bold move from a stranger, is both surprised and intrigued. Soon they will date, then get engaged, marry, and finally start a family.

This is the story of my parents, a story of lovers who were able to look past the clashing colors of skin to find the harmonious pair of hearts within. Their love persevered for over 30 years, despite the usual hurdles of love coupled with an environment of racial tension and strife. And out of this love came my sister and I. Being an interracial couple has brought my parents plenty of troubles: looks of confusion from people, condescending whispers from their relatives, and hateful words from strangers. There was even a rumor once that spread through my Dad’s side of the family, much like a virus, claiming that my sister and I were not from my Dad.

My white complexion and freckles only represent one of the two worlds that exist within me. In fact, it is hard to convince that people half of my heritage comes from that island in the Caribbean. Most people usually suspect that it is some ploy or act of deception that would somehow make me cooler or more likeable. Only when I finally pull out the family photo (which I keep on my phone for just such purposes) and they see the see the Ice-T looking figure (my Dad) do they begin to believe me.

Biracial people, people who consider themselves as part of 2 races, are still a small minority of the population, only 2.8% according to the United States Census Bureau, and being biracial has brought with it both advantages and disadvantages. Many surveys only allow me to mark off only one choice when asking about my ethnicity, causing me to deny half of my heritage. Many people on my Dad’s side of my family are also hard for me to relate or get to know since many of them speak Spanish exclusively or a broken form of English at best. But it has offered a wealth of cultural opportunities. I eat traditional soda bread on Saint Patrick’s Day and rice and beans on Christmas. I have learned Hispanic forms of dance at family parties and have heard the soothing, brash sounds of bagpipes.

Being biracial has put within me two worlds, two cultures, and two perspectives. And it makes me glad to see that the population of biracial people is growing as more and more couples decide to ignore the pigments in the skin and focus on the actual hearts of the person. (Link)