“What are you?” is a pretty common question in the US, but maybe not very common other places. I’m pretty sure Germany is full of Germans and China is full of Chinese people. Maybe Germany has some Turks or China has some Koreans, but I’m guessing those people haven’t been there long enough to become an unrecognizable blend to prompt the question, “What are you?”
A black friend of mine once asked me why nobody asked what she is. I hadn’t thought about it up till then, but I’m guessing they don’t ask because they figure A. she’s black, and that’s pretty obvious, or B. maybe black people don’t know what they are since America had that whole slavery problem. She and I are actually very alike in our ancestry, so we had some fun. We’d introduce each other to new people with, “This is my sister” and watch people suffer internal cerebral crumbling. We’d relent a little and say, “We had different mothers.” Then laughed while whoever it was tried to accept that into their world view. We didn’t feel a need to fill those people in that we also had different fathers. There’s more than one way to tackle racism.
In a recent conversation with someone who immigrated to the US from the other side of the planet, he mentioned that he couldn’t trace his family any further back than his great grandfather. I found it curious he never asked his parents or grandparents about their younger lives and older relatives, but maybe it’s as simple as their lives were the same as the lives of everybody else who had occupied that corner of the world as long as people have lived there?
My family tree is a textbook study in American migration patterns. Pick a branch and you’ll find out how white people filled up everything east of the Mississippi. For those of you outside the US, that means the right half of the country, not counting Alaska and Hawaii. It’s conceivable I’m related to everybody in America in some way or another, including my black girlfriend. That feels nice, but it also makes me want to know who I’m more directly related to too.
All that moving around in the frontier meant that people picked up and left relatives behind. They couldn’t talk to someone on the phone back then, and often those branches of the family tree were pruned away and forgotten. The question of “what” I am becomes a certain longing to know where my people came from, and this is echoed throughout America no matter what color you are in the Crayon box. We have tv shows and websites and clubs and libraries to help in the search. It’s fun to find relatives you didn’t know you had. It’s fun when we find out we had famous relatives too. Everybody should have some royalty in them somewhere, but it’s also good to know we’re related to regular people too. It’s rather amazing how much stuff has been written down about them.
As for current news from Ohio, Election Day is over! No matter how anyone voted, I’m pretty sure all Ohioans are relieved we can answer the phone again without robocalls and can safely go to the mailbox without seeing half a forest of political ads. I feel like I’ve been under assault for months by politicians’ verbal abuse. It’s hard to express my pleasure in getting a grocery store ad again. Especially a Thanksgiving ad, which has got to be America’s best holiday, our national contemplation of gratitude… like being grateful pollsters will ignore Ohio for a while again!
BTW, I used to do work for Heinen’s. This isn’t my ad, but you can imagine some of the glory of working at that job. (That’s sarcasm in case you missed it.) Still, it’s a good store if you’ve got one. I hear they have turkeys.