Tuesday, July 25, 2006


It’s quite an extraordinary thing to be identified wrongly.

In a few short moments, you can become adamantly certain of who you are, what you are, what you are not, and what you stand for when you are mistaken for something/one else.

Today I went to get a criminal background check. I filled out all my application information and placed my fingertips on the latest technology that can scan your lawful or unlawfulness.

As I surreptitiously peeked over the shoulder of the woman taking my prints, my eyes rapidly looked over my information, wondering if all my speeding tickets popped up. I joked with my Adonis how terrible it would be if a crime I never committed showed up on my record.

Luckily there was no false report, but there was a small detail that widened my eyes and paused my world. To the right of the word “race” with the scroll bar to choose from; after my name, birth date, and locating information, I saw three consonants and two vowels in all capital letters: WHITE.

I stopped short, my eyes piercing over her shoulder, as she happily typed away with the rest of my information and chatted away about the relentless summer humidity. There was no humidity in my now White world because hell just froze over. I continued to gaze at the funny little word, half marveling, half horrified at how that simple word changed my entire life. Without checking or confirmation, I knew there would be no Filipino-Spanish option in the scrollbar. And I began to wonder what my life would be like if I were White. Never in my life had I considered being White or wanted to be White. I knew in that precise moment, at 27 years of age, I knew who I was. I didn’t want to be anyone else other than myself. I didn’t want to be White. I didn’t want White features, White culture, or White blood. My complicated family, the rich language, my monstrous appetite that never suffers from indigestion, my thick black hair and wild brown eyes, my coffee colored skin and – I realized that they were no longer characteristics of me, they simply were me. No! No masquerades! WHITE just didn’t fit.

The FBI wouldn’t find me in the White world. And I internally rolled my eyes, imagining the uniformed and gunned Feds knocking on my door, grabbing me and possibly Adonis by the throat, demanding to know why I was trying to duck the radar of a criminal check, furthering the suspiciousness of my complicated identity.

Instead, I opted out for something much less dramatic. I leaned in, softly cleared my throat and slightly fumbled, “Uh, I might be under ‘asian.’”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hey there,
Before you leave a comment, just remember two things:
1. You are taking responsibility for a public comment
2. Anything that resembles racism, homophobia, classism, ableism, or anything based from religion, citizenship, or ethnic bias - don't bother commenting, you'll be deleted.