Ghanaian | Filipino
I identify as half-Ghanaian & half-Filipino, also as an American as I was born and raised in the US. I am also straight. My mum is from the Philippines and my dad is from Ghana. They met in Washington D.C. I grew up in Northern Virginia, in Alexandria, 20 minutes outside of Washington D.C.
There was never a specific moment that I recognised I was mixed race, but when I was growing up I remember being out at the grocery store with my mum, for example and no one ever realising that she was my parent. I grew up alongside the Filipino side of my family as well, mostly, so I noticed I didn’t look exactly like them. From what I can remember there was never a ‘combination’ of cultures so to speak, but I grew up culturally with different pieces of Ghanaian art or Filipino jewellery, for example.
Personally, growing up as an American child it was difficult for me. I felt very American to begin with, but I also resented the fact that I would always be seen as ‘Black’ first. Even back then, filling in forms there was never an option to pick multiple races, the only other thing I could choose apart from ‘Black’ or ‘African American’ was ‘Other.’
Not so much now, but my social environment did play a part in how I chose my friends/partners growing up. I went to a private Catholic high school in a wealthy neighbourhood in Northern Virginia. My parents worked multiple jobs to be able to send me to a good school, while most of my friends were White and middle class.
Being mixed-race is such a big part of who I am, it definitely has given me so much to think about and affects how I move through the world and express myself. I think there are a lot of assumptions made about mixed-race people about their heritage, there are a lot of questions that people feel like mixed-race people have to answer about who they are. We’re exoticised so much as well, especially in the media and social media (thanks Kardashians!) that it can all be very overwhelming.
I’m not able to speak Tagalog or any of the dialects my dad can speak (Twi, Ga, Fante and so on) because both of my parents spoke in English to each other, they spoke in English to me. I think they both may have tried when I was a child, but I didn’t want to know back then! I wish they’d forced me more! Especially now, having cousins on both my Filipino side and my Ghanaian side who may even understand but not speak the language, it gives them a bit more connection. I just feel a bit lost not knowing.
Growing up, I had much more of a connection to my Filipino side - that was the majority of my childhood, I grew up with my Filipino family primarily. Now that I live in London and the Ghanaian side of my family is physically closer to me, I feel much more of that connection. I’m inherently American and I will ride hard for African Americans, especially in the current climate back home.
When asked where I’m from I purposely default to the fact that I’m from America and specifically from Virginia. Even though I know what they’re trying to get at.
A negative for me is the constant identity crisis and displacement, the positive is having such a diverse, multicultural familial background that I’m extremely proud of. I love having family that spans across the continent that I am able to point to.
I think there’s a real expectation for mixed-race people to almost be some kind of racial go-between. Much like the royal wedding between Meghan Markle and Prince Harry was viewed as this kind of point in history for a racial harmony, where it’s like, actually the fact that she is mixed-race, and he is White is the least interesting thing about them as a couple. Not only is it not unusual, but it’s not nuanced - all of our experiences are so different.
If I had the opportunity to be reborn I would be comfortable coming back the same way, that’s what I know and what I’ve grown to know and love over so many years. It would be different I think growing up knowing what I know now and have come to learn and be comfortable with in myself, but I wouldn’t change it. I’m proud of it.