"What race would you want us to list your daughter under?" Wow, now that's a loaded question! I looked at my very pale, brown eyed, brown hair, tall two  year old and was speechless.
"Hm, white, I guess." and I added "But she's half Puerto Rican." "Although she looks white".
Come to think about it, I also look white. I'm probably one of the most pale Puerto Ricans you will ever meet. My cousin Edgar says I'm so pale, I look like I need a blood transfusion. But in this country of labels that tend to define you more often than not, I may look white, but I'm Hispanic. My race is well defined. Amelia's race---not so much.
I can't believe at her young age, I was in charge of giving Amelia her first label. From now on she will be a Caucasian female. But that definitely is not my daughter. Amelia is the wonderful combination of two races, two cultures, two religions. Two people who were born in two very different places but were raised with the same values and moral code. Yet, we have to classify her as something so society can handle it.
I admit, it's probably my issue to deal with. I hate labels and when I came to the U.S. for college, I realized we are all about labels here. I'm Puerto Rican, Hispanic, female, yet I refuse to let all those labels define me.
Also, I dread the day that Amelia says in her perfect, non accented English "Oh, yeah, my Mom is Puerto Rican". Like she has no connection to where I'm from, like she doesn't belong to that part of me at all. When I married Steve, more than the religion issue, my biggest deal was that my child was not going to be Puerto Rican, born and raised like me. I actually told him I would raise her Jewish as long as we could foster her Puerto Rican identity. At one point I thought about giving birth on the island. That is the reason Amelia has already been to PR six times  in her short life. I only speak Spanish to her and teach her the few kids songs I remember from my childhood.
So, when that woman asked about Amelia's race, I had to come to terms with the fact that she will also have labels and that Puerto Rican will not be one we share. I can only hope to raise her very proud of her Latin and American heritage. That she admires the fact that her father and I were able to look beyond our labels and create our own loving family. Ay Mama!


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  • Bravo Ana! Great entry! I too thought I was white all through my life, until we moved here to the States. My kids label: White Caribbean, according to their passports - LOL

  • I, too, also thought I was white, LOL! Now I get the "but you don't LOOK Puerto Rican!" everywhere I go (what are we supposed to look like, anyway????)

    I have the same problem with labeling Dylan. Believe it or not, he is half-Asian, although he looks totally Caucasian. I don't want to take that part of his history away from him, though, so I always mention him as such and hope he comes to embrace his birth culture with pride. And although it is not WRITTEN anywhere that he is [being raised] Puerto Rican/American, I hope that he grows up to be proud of those cultures too!

  • Loved today's entry!!

  • Me parece estar viendo tu cara cuando te preguntaron como quieres identificar a tu HIJA! LOL! Amelia estoy segura te vas a encargar de que diga. PUERTORRIQUENA de pura sepa. Un abrazo Lori

  • In reply to lorimont:

    Gracias a Dios q fue por telefono Lori porque ya sabes q si hubiese sido en persona, le diria "pero mirela". Love you and thanks for reading.

  • Loved this entry. Since my husband and I are both of European descent, we don't have the same labeling issue as you. My husband is part Polish, English and German. However, unlike my husband, I am 100% Latvian. And unlike my husband, I speak my parents' native tongue. Latvian is the only language my girls speak with me. They then turn around and speak English with Papa--no problem.

    The girls are involved in Latvian school, Latvian camps, Latvian girl scouts, and have many Latvian friends with whom we set play dates. Ana, don't worry about Amelia ever stating, "Oh, yeah, my Mom is Puerto Rican," with no connection herself. In you teaching Amelia Spanish and keeping her a part of the Puerto Rican community here and in Puerto Rico, her Puerto Rican identity will be a part of her as much as it is yours. My girls are testimony to that. Heck--I'm a testimony to that! I was born in the states and have maintained my mother tongue and my ties.

    My girls now tell people they are Latvian-American. They have ownership through language and through being involved in Latvian schools, camps, girl scouts. This is a great feeling for me.

    Aside from that, speaking two languages has been great in their language skills. They are much stronger because of speaking two languages fluently. Lilija is now taking Spanish, and because of knowing the two previously, Spanish has not been too difficult for her. It was the same for me when I took up French in college.

    Long entry, I know; however, I feel very confident about this issue. You'll see! It'll all work out! Just keep it up! Don't ever give it up. That's when ownership will be lost. :) Anita P.

  • In reply to anitarudite:

    Long but worth it Anita. Thanks for sharing.

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