My Multicultural Life

January 9, 2017

The most common question I get from people who meet me for the first time is, “ Where are you from?” My first thought is to wonder if I should  give them the  abbreviated answer or the full version knowing full well either response will result in another question accompanied by a puzzled look. My usual answer is: I am from America.  It is usually followed by “what is your race?”  I am Black.  My long answer is I am an American who was born in England to a Nigerian father who is very much Black as far as I know and to a Jamaican mother whose father was half white and looked Indian. I lived in Nigeria until I was 16 before moving to New York City.

Some of the funniest questions I get often come from older southern Black people who say, “ You don’t look Black” or “You don’t sound Black” and “Are you sure you are not Indian?”  My definitive answer has always been,  “Yes I am sure I am not Indian. I am Black.”

I take these questions and comments with humor knowing there is nothing wrong with curiosity and it is human nature to want to put everyone in an easily recognizable “box”. I will be honest though, it can get annoying when the question is asked by the same person over and over again. I get it. I don’t look or sound  the way as expected by some people. I may not eat the same foods as you do or attend the same church or listen to the same music, s what difference does it make? You know who or what I am – Multicultural and I love it! I love being able to move easily from one culture to another, comfortably blending in with all kinds of people.  It makes me feel like a chameleon in the best kind of way.

I have been influenced by African women who taught me how respect my elders, to cook, sew, braid, and  craft things out of nothing. I appreciate colorful fabrics, large head wraps & bold jewelry and the African entrepreneurial spirit in starting small businesses.  I was also influenced by my mother’s Caribbean family and their love for great comfort food. There is nothing like a Jamaican patty, rice & peas, curried chicken, Jamaican Chicken Soup, Jamaican Black Cake,  Reggae & Ska music and the adventurous spirit of the West Indian people.

I have also been greatly influenced by my husband’s Vietnamese American culture. I love all the healthy vegetable rich meals, rice noodle dishes & savory dipping sauces. I hope some day my children and I can visit Vietnam for the first time.

As an adult who has lived in the USA for over twenty years my values are American and I love that there isn’t one way to be an American. I was raised around more than one culture and I respect and embrace the cultural diversity around me. I love meeting people from all over the world, learning about different cultures and exploring new foods from India to Korea. There is a big world out there and I can’t wait to experience it all one bite at a time!

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