Sitting in my kitchen with my bother the other day, we were discussing . . . just stuff. You know like when you're hanging out with friends and family and you're not really talking about anything in particular. Well, the conversation turned to how we identify ourselves on those stupid little boxes on almost every application you've ever filled out that ask you to say who (what) you are. Especially if you're Hispanic or Latino - that's not enough. Are you a white or black or asian or whatever of Latino orgin? It's crazy.
He said, he looks at his arm, it looks white so he always marks the Caucasian box and who gives a damn if he's from Latino orgin or not. He was born in America and he's American, period. Whereas, I always mark the Latino box. Always have. I identify myself first on my cultural background - not that I feel any less American, but culturally I bring with me all the Latino and specifically Argentine roots.
After he went home, I started thinking that it's interesting how having the same parents and practically the same upbringing, we have such different views of ourselves. Based on what? I'm not sure.
On the surface it doesn't really matter, but subtly, it does. It makes a big difference on how we view ourselves and our place in the world. What it did was sort of cement in my mind that WE decide who we want to be - not our government, not other people. So even though they have those annoying little boxes questioning who we are - it's basically you and I who decide who we are based on our beliefs.
Deep down, I'm pretty sure that is the message I've placed in most of my books. Decide who you are and be proud of your identity.