Demographics are funny to me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a way to see who your audience is and helps you keep them interested; my feelings have to do with me not falling into any particular category.
My dad (who always in my head sounds like Walter Cronkite) is Caucasian and my mom (Viola Davis will play her in the movie about my life) African-American. Okay in actuality it’s more that I’m German, Irish with a pit stop in Italy, Bajan and African descent with a splash of Choctaw. That never prevented anyone though from speaking to me in foreign languages like Spanish. This occurred so often with me that I had to learn the language – just so I could understand what was being said to me. Learning the language of course is never enough; you need to learn the customs of the people in that language. So there’s the confusion:
Some guy: Oye, ¿tú eres Dominicano?
Lightbulb: No sir.
Some guy: Pero, ¿tú hablas español?
Some other guy: Oye, ¿pero tocas merengue?
That same guy: ¿Y bachata?
Lightbulb: Sí again.
That same guy once more: ¿Y no eres Dominicano?
Lightbulb: That’s right.
(It took me a long time to decide on whether to translate above or not; I decided no in case you don’t speak Spanish so you can feel my pain growing up)
The best was when I was in a resort in the Dominican Republic and my wife Mujer (who is from El Salvador) and I went to eat at a hibachi restaurant:
Cook: (to first couple) Where are you from?
First Couple: We’re from New Jersey.
Cook: (to second couple) And you?
Second Couple: Somos del capital.
Cook: (to Mujer and I) ¿Cómo ‘tá mi pana? (to next couple) And you’re from?
Okay, he basically said: “Yo, my brother what’s crack-a-lackin?” So I never even had a chance to explain I don’t have an ounce of Latin blood in me. At times though, I even confuse myself:
(I admit to that video being horribly produced and I thank my wife for participating. I really had to keep the number of takes down to keep her interested. Credit to Lightbulb, Jr. as the cameraman)
In reality, it’s tough to identify myself racially. I could easily say, “I’m black”, but I always felt that was somewhat unfair to Walter, er, my dad. Should I completely ignore that side of the family, that part of my heritage? Of course, then it would be difficult to fill out the demographic part of all those standardized tests and forms (um, where’s the “Other” checkbox?). I’m fully comfortable however with my kids, Lightbulb, Jr., the Comedian, and that 1-year-old little girl to be named later fully accepting their Latin heritage and completely ignoring what I’ve given them; that is until there’s a checkbox for Salvadorian, German, Irish with a pit stop in Italy, Bajan and African, with a smidgen of Choctaw on all these forms and tests. Then they don’t have an excuse to ignore it, right? Creo que eso está bién.