Multiracial people have a wide variety of ways in identifying. However, a common method that I’ve noticed is by way of fractions. Phrases such as “half Asian,” “quarter Black,” “50% Latino,” and others of a similar kind can more often than not be heard being tossed around.
Without a doubt, multiracial people have the right to identify however they want, as proclaimed in great detail in Maria P.P. Roots’ Bill of Rights for People of Mixed Heritage. What I do want to take the time to note is that it’s important to consider that not all multiracial people identify in fractions.
I happen to be one of them, and while that hasn’t always been the case, there are a few reasons for why I’m like this now:
- For me, dividing my different races and ethnicities into fractions make me feel more like a pie chart and less of a human being… and I’m not comfortable with that at all.
- This is just an observation, but it feels like breaking down my background into fractions is a way of accommodating monoracial people’s understanding of my identity. Not to say that it isn’t important for monoracial people to understand the identity politics of multiracial people, but I feel uneasy with doing so for the sake of accommodating one’s level of comprehension; especially when the reality of the matter is that it’s not about how the former feels about it.
I’ve avoided labeling myself in fractions for a few years now, and what originally ignited me on that path was by way of a particular conversation I had with my host family in Germany, when I traveled to Europe as a teenager.
Germany is the country my maternal grandmother is originally from, and so to stay with a family there for a few days made the experience really special. For the sake of bonding, during that first evening of my stay, I told my host family how I was “quarter German.” In turn, they weren’t sure just what I meant by that. However, when I instead explained how “my Oma is from Schweinfurt, Bavaria” (a town and region in Germany), that made a lot more sense to them. One may argue that their lack of understanding what I meant by “quarter German” may be a difference between cultures, but it still proves my point.
Nowadays, as a multiracial person, this is how I identify:
- Part Filipino/German/Portuguese/Irish (just to indicate that not all of my roots are from one place)
- Filipino and White (by way of coexistence)
Again, I emphasize how multiracial people have the right to identify however they want, so if you do identify in fractions, that’s okay if that’s what you are comfortable with. However, some monoracial people are quick to assume that that’s how all multiracial people identify, which is why the following is mainly for them:
Don’t be so quick to put a label on a multiracial person and assume that they identify in fractions. Instead, maybe say how someone is of a particular race or ethnicity through whichever parent they got it from. Perhaps say how someone is part [insert race or ethnicity here]. Consider the coexistence factor through it all, and just say that a particular human is this and this.
I don’t identify in fractions and not all multiracial people do, so don’t be quick to assume.