“What do you Identify with more, the Leban or the… exican?”

15 Nov
Salma, the other Lebanexican

Salma, the other Lebanexican

Yes, the above question was actually posed to me just a couple of day ago, by my boyfriend, who is aware that I am half Lebanese and half Mexican.  It’s a natural question to ask, and hey, if I met, say, Salma Hayek, I might ask her the same thing (mil gracias, Salmita, for being one of the other Lebanese Mexicans in existence.  You help people wrap their minds around my ethnic background)!

But in all seriousness, the question of how much a mixed person identifies with one side or other is not just a matter of public fascination, it’s the essence of being mixed.  A bit of background: one of my proudest accomplishments is having been one of the founders of M.E.S.H. (Mixed Ethnicities Student Headquarters) at my alma mater, UC Santa Cruz.  So I have been identifying as a mixed person for some time, and I am familiar with the issues that define us mixed folks. In the past (in the pre-M.E.S.H. days),  I admit that I often felt either not Lebanese enough or not Mexican enough.  And through meetings that M.E.S.H. would organize each trimester, which usually consisted of simple gatherings of curious students, we would discuss our cultural identity and our families.

So what did I tell the boyfriend when he asked me the question that gives this post its title? It’s the Exican, stupid.  No, really, although my last name and face are decidedly more Arabic than Mexican (and what does Mexican look like? That’s a subject for a future post!), having grown up with my Mexican grandmother and great-grandmother living at home with the family (my great-grandmother passed away at age 100 when I was 18), speaking Spanish in my home as a child, and being in closer proximity to my Mom’s family than my Dad’s (his family is spread along the East Coast; my Mom’s is all in California), all lead to my feeling just a little more Mexican.  More importantly, I think it is significant that while my Mom is from Mexico, and is therefore closer to her culture, my father’s family is much further removed from the Lebanese/Syrian culture, since our ancestors came to the U.S. in the 1880’s.  All of this leads to my identifying closer to my Mexican culture than my Lebanese side.

Of course, the whole story could go much longer, as cultural identity is a topic rife with material to be explored.  Since being mixed informs how I see the world, and I intend for this blog to be a source for exploring trends in politics, Web 2.0, and marketing (especially the kind that targets Hispanics), I may revisit this topic more in depth or from a different angle in the future.  For now, suffice it to say, I’m a little less Leb and a little more exican.

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6 Responses to ““What do you Identify with more, the Leban or the… exican?””

  1. Molly November 22, 2010 at 4:06 pm #

    I really like your post!

  2. bekaboo November 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    The wonderful thing about people from two ethnic backgrounds is that they get to have a taste of both worlds, at least in today’s increasingly multicultural world, as long as the xenophobia of German chancellor Angela Merkel and her ilk don’t continue to spread with the bad economy. My children are half Irish and half Mexican, but living in Southern California and with the Mexican half of the family a lot more active in our lives it is easier to identify with that half of their heritage. I do try to keep Irish fairy tales in the house and make corned beef and cabbage from time to time, but I can’t compete with homemade tamales for Christmas and menudo on New Year’s Day. Their cousin is Carmen Lomas Garza, a Chicana artist, and one memorable evening, after they had made papel picado all day we had a blackout and then she told them traditional Mexican folk tales by candlelight for hours. It was magical.

    • lebanexican November 24, 2010 at 2:42 am #

      Sounds wonderful! And yes, the holiday season to me means tamales on Christmas and menudo (plus more tamales) on New Year’s Day.

  3. travelingmuses November 23, 2010 at 5:52 pm #

    I found this blog yesterday through the social media post (which I liked–it reminded me a lot of what Buddhists work to achieve: mindfulness) and am perusing some other posts.

    I am also a mixed identity person, three main ones that are all Latino (Puerto Rican, Cuban, Mexican) and a bit French. Bloodwise, Mexican is the greatest but, ironically, I’ve always felt most unnatural calling myself that. My father, whose side its on, was rarely in the picture, while my mother regaled me with stories of Puerto Rico. So yes, I find it fascinating how much of our identities are really subjective, based on the stories, love, and attention we receive, more so than the blood.

    Or maybe this is only the case when you have many to choose from and need something to skew your perspective.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Yes, You can be Black and Latino « The Lebanexican - September 27, 2011

    […] country’s insistence on simplifying racial categories. I know from personal experience that being mixed can really make people’s heads explode (I’ve found the same is true for being […]

  2. Yes, You Can Be Black and Latino | The Citizen Culture - October 28, 2013

    […] this country’s insistence on simplifying racial categories. I know from personal experience that being mixed can really make people’s heads explode (I’ve found the same is true for being bilingual. […]

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