Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Alice at Sciencewomen opened up quite a can of worms. She invited others to blog about their ethnic stories. Where do I start? I'll try to do this systematically. Considering the terms, I prefer to use ancestry over ethnicity, but that is just my personal choice. I don't know the full story of my ancestry, but I know some, and can make educated guesses about other parts. People find it virtually impossible to place me. My first name is Indian, my middle name French, my last name German, I probably look a little Hispanic (I've been addressed in Spanish before), but my accent is none of the above.

Roughly, my recent ancestry (if you go back long enough, we're all out of Africa anyway), is likely about 1/3 African, 1/3 European, 1/3 Asian. It works out something like this.

From my mother's side: My mother's mother was half Indonesian (Asian) from her mother's side, her father was half Belgian, half Turkish. My mother's father was of mixed African descent and European descent, I don't know in what ratio. I might be wrong about his ancestry, but I'm probably not far off.

From my father's side: My father's mother was half Chinese from her father's side, while her mother was a mixture of African, European, and I seem to remember she once mentioned Jewish ancestry too. Like my mother's father, my father's father was a mixture of European and African ancestry, likely not 50/50, I think his parents were of recent mixed ancestry too.

I don't think I want my ancestry any more generations further back than that. It gets too complicated.

When I first came to the US, I never filled out the part of the forms that asked for my "race." Even if I had been so inclined, what the heck would I write? I was everything, yet nothing on the list. However, when I needed to fill out a W-2, I was required. I was told I could not get paid otherwise. I refused, the form came back, and I didn't get paid the first period. I studied the form. These were my options: White, Black, Hispanic, Pacific islander, Asian, and Other. But if I filled out "other" I had to mention what "other" was. Eventually, I checked "other" and filled out "human." The darn form never came back again, and I got paid the next period.


CAE said...

That's very complicated indeed. I'm just a bog standard English / Scottish / Irish mix, like most white Brits.

hypoglycemiagirl said...

That's an amazingly fascinating mix! I'm totally blown away (in a good way). I'm totally boringly Scandinavian white-ass.