Why can’t we all be pandas? They must be the most non-prejudicial animals on the planet. They are black, white, and Asian. Put a taco in their hand and suddenly they are Mexican. The only difference is that they do not really understand what they are, yet they just are. The 2010 census serves as the best example to represent the diversity of the US. Everyone who filled out the census was required to check off a box that indicated their race. For individuals who identify as biracial, what box do we check off? I am Korean Hispanic American and definitely proud. Why would I only be required to check off only one?
Whether you are full blooded Latina or mixed like me, we live with different traditions and customs. Oscar Wilde put it best: “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” From you to the beautiful Eva Mendez, we are each culturally shaped differently.
My entire life I have solely been surrounded by my family’s Hispanic heritage. From the lovely indulgence of food to the romantic ways of the Spanish language, I did not acknowledge my Asian heritage. Just one year ago South Korea became a reality to me. The idea that South Korea was in fact a third world country with absolutely no industrialism, let alone cities and a music industry, and came nowhere near to the standards of the United States was a reality check.
Ignorance is indeed a flaw and I feel heavily guilty because of it. All it took was one ‘K-Drama’, basically the equivalent to Spanish ‘Novelas’ or soap-operas to us Americans, to show me that South Korea was just like America: urban cities, technology, and a culture like none other.
Perhaps the reason to why we do not embrace our ethnic history is because we do not exactly know what it is. Another reason is, just like mine, not being introduced to it. My father did not know a grain of Korean since he was adopted as a new born. It was through my own efforts that I personally began to start learning parts of the language and researching about the culture. Make it fun! Learning a new culture like this does not have to involve boring textbook lessons or odd, outdated videos with awkward and obviously staged scenarios that keep you distracted from learning. If you keep yourself interested by watching their shows or listening to their music, you will be learning a few bits here and there. Without much effort, you begin to understand the ways of their culture.
At first, my family was not as accepting as I had hoped. I can’t blame them; they were just as close minded as me when I began embracing my Korean heritage. My mission from then on was to continue learning more about the Korean culture and introducing it to my family; therefore, they could figure out how important it is for me to integrate both of my heritages together. I introduced them to Kimchi (fermented, spicy cabbage) Quesadillas! Yes, it is not the best combinations of food yet not the worst either.
All in all, it is absolutely imperative that some parts of you do not go unnoticed. You don’t walk around not acknowledging your left foot, right? You need it to keep balance. The balance may not be easy at first, but it only takes awareness into entering a new world to keep you standing.
Are you a panda?