by Alexandria Tristen Martin—
50% Puerto Rican
100% Human [Unboxed]
I love being mixed.
The fact that I was born into two distinct and incredibly vibrant cultures is truly a great privilege. Not only have I been able to relate and connect to so many different people due to my ethnic combination, but I also feel I’ve gained a unique perspective on life.
Growing up, I’ve always had to check the “other” box when it came to defining my ethnicity. I used to find the fact that there was no realbox for me profoundly frustrating. No one wants to be defined as “other.”
As I’ve matured, I’ve realized that there’s something truly beautiful about not having a box. Without a box, I’m free to define myself as I choose. Since I don’t have one dominant culture, I’ve been able to truly create my own with the two different halves I am a part of. Being mixed has given me an ethnic fluidity that has allowed me the freedom to not only choose different parts of my culture to embrace but also to choose how I define myself as a whole.
Plenty of individuals have felt the need to tell me that I’m not really Filipino or Puerto Rican since I’m only half. I’ve also been called a “mutt” and been told that I’m “not enough” since I’m not full. I could have allowed these comments to define me (and consequently expressed here how I’ve been the victim of name-calling and segregation due to being mixed and not “pure”), but instead I chose a different perspective.
Recently, I feel like there’s been a lot of focus on labels. Everyone has to be politically correct, and it’s impossible to call anyone anything without offending someone. However, I’ve come to the realization that instead of focusing on what everyone around us is doing and saying, maybe we should stop listening to them and choose to define ourselves. Mixed, black, white, whatever—it doesn’t really matter because people are going to label regardless.
My ethnic diversity has helped me realize that, in the end, we are the only ones who have the power to define who we truly are—whether there is a box for us to check or not.
Alexandria Tristen Martin is a registered nurse at AdventHealth Orlando in Orlando, Florida.