My eyes flitted back and forth between the choices, pencil hovering centimeters off the paper. "Puerto Rican," "Mexican," "Japanese," "White," "you must choose only one." I was barely ten and yet acutely aware of the agony that this standardized test put me in. I thought to myself, "but these are all me, how I can choose one and not the others?" Hesitantly I filled in a single bubble as the form requested, the pencil strokes feeling as painful as if I were choosing one of my parents over the other, or cutting off one of my own limbs.
I do not recall the bubble I filled in that day, but I do remember shifting my answer every time the question was posed. While I hated the feeling of being marginalized as a multiracial individual, it did force my eyes open in ways that might not have happened otherwise. As a child I had not understood what it truly meant to be multiracial. My father was Japanese and Puerto Rican and many of my cousins were as mixed as I was; it felt normal to me. Entering the public school system I realized that it was anything but. Walking into M.E.Ch.A. Club or the Japanese Students Association drew stares and gazes. I was different and I looked it, but it fueled a desire to showcase the diversity inherent within myself. I wanted to prove that being Puerto Rican did not stop me from being white, or Japanese, and vice versa.
My upbringing has been a mix of cultures: the Puerto Rican dialect of Spanish my father spoke, the traditional cooking of my Japanese grandmother, the roots of my mother's family going back to the original American colonies, and tons upon tons of other layers that compose me as an individual. Those layers make me proud of the unique heritage I possess, proud that my grandparents were born on three separate landmasses separated by vast oceans, that my parents were born over six thousand miles apart; it is a distinct part of who I am. To this day I cherish the fact that my experiences are shaped by the attitudes and values of three very different cultures. I understand what that test helped show me: how rare my opportunity is and that I am richer for it.
Tear it up or tell me I should start from scratch. Thanks for the help/advice.
EDIT: I'm also willing to do trades if people want to PM me PS's/DS's. I probably won't be able to get to them for a week and a half as I still have finals to get through.