I love to play the Guess My Ethnicity game. If you’re also mixed-race, I’m sure you’ve played it before. If you’re not, don’t worry: it’s simple. It’s all in the title, really. Maybe you’ve even played before and you didn’t even know. It goes like this: Someone walks up to me, often without saying hi or even having any knowledge of who I am, and asks me “Hey, so, what are you?” to which I enthusiastically respond, “Guess!” Usually. When I am feeling less patient, I’ll quip, “human,” haughtily. But most of the time, I choose to play the game.
I find it odd the number of people who ask me on first meeting. Don’t get me wrong: I’m fine detailing my ethnicity with my friends, or speaking about racial issues in general terms. I just find asking for personal information without offering any first is a bit demanding. I don’t go around asking people on the street their age or shoe size. I can make guesses by looking, but I never feel a need to confirm if I’m correct.
I sometimes long to say “why do you care? What bearing does it have on us, our meeting or our relationship? Why is it necessary to put me into a box, a box constructed of racial tropes and stereotypes, upon our first meeting?” I should ask, but I don’t. Instead I play the game.
With the game, at least I get some information of my own; if they are so bold to ask, the least they can do if share their stereotypical ideas with me. So far, my particular mix looks Spanish, Italian, Greek, Egyptian, First Nations and/or Ethiopian. And, if you’re still wondering what I look like, I look “exactly” like Beyoncé, Tyra Banks, Mila Kunis, Halle Berry, Leona Lewis, Amanda Marshall, and…Oprah. Or so I’ve been told. Never mind that none of these women look alike.
Personally, I prefer the term mulatto. I’ve always liked how it sounds. It reminds me of something sweet and creamy, like macaroon, or latte. Biscotte. Café au late. Mullato. And I guess I am kind of creamy; skin the color coffee with too much sugar and milk.