Am I?

My mother is born Asian (Korean to be exact). She looks Korean. And she was brought up in a Korean family, in Korea. Pretty darn Korean!

My father, however, is born an American citizen brought up in Chicago. His heritage is European — he is equal parts Italian, French, Irish, German. He and his brothers (from my observations) identify more with the Italian heritage than the other heritages. I assume it is because of what my grandmother told me: that her mother — the full-blood Italian — was a pretty strong figure in the family.

As for me? Well, as I have established in the prior two paragraphs, I am half-Korean, and half white. I was born an American citizen. I was brought up mostly by white people (since I do not know my mother or any of her side of the family). I definitely look Asian.

So how do people see me? Well… a few weeks ago, I conducted some Twitter Polls.

Here are the results from the polls. (If the embedded Tweets don’t show up for you, you can click through to see the poll results).

Based on the polls, it seems many people don’t see me Italian, German, French, Irish, or even more broadly — European. However, when it comes to race, whether I am white or not seems to be split a little more evenly.

So let’s see about my other side:

So… this is interesting. People are more likely to see me as Korean, Asian, or a person of color.

Now of course, there are a number of factors that most likely skew this poll:

  • the time of day that people filled out the poll could determine who is filling it out (what time zone? what country?)
  • how open a culture is accepting of me — from my own personal experience, I have found that some cultures are more accepting of mixed children being “one of them” than others.
  • the order in which I asked the questions — the polls expire after 24 hours and I asked them across the span of three days. After answering 5–6 of these questions, your perception may change but your previous answers are locked.
  • and, of course, I look Asian.

So… Where do I think I personally fall on this spectrum? Well, it’s complicated. When I am asked to fill out my race in a form, I tend to chose other. However, that is not always an option. So when I have to choose one, I choose Asian. Why? Because I look that way. But is that how I feel? No… yes… well… sometimes. I have faced discrimination from it. I don’t know. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So what is the point of this? When I conducted these surveys, I got some criticism and skeptical tweets — why was I doing this? What was I trying to say? Why do I care? Why should I let others define me?

Well the fact is, I wasn’t setting out for anyone else to define me. Honestly, it was just pure curiosity. And I think these results are pretty darn interesting.

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