The Student News Site of Minnechaug Regional High School

The Smoke Signal

The Student News Site of Minnechaug Regional High School

The Smoke Signal

The Student News Site of Minnechaug Regional High School

The Smoke Signal

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The Tapestry of My Ethnicity

(Kindness Knows No Borders)

When the spotlight hits me with the question, who am I? There is no one specific answer that I can give. I don’t simply fall into one category. I am not the kind of person you could simply check off a box and know “That is Ava Connors.” I am one of many boxes. I am a person who is made up of many different things. That is me, Ava.

Many people don’t know that I am biracial, a woman of color. My mother is of Dominican descent and my father is of Irish descent. My ethnicity is a big part of who I am. I like examining my different features because they help tell the story of my identity. My eyes are dark brown like my mother’s. The shade of cocoa powder brown matches my eyebrows as well as my hair. The texture of my hair pin straight like my dads used to be. I get bright hazelnut splatter-painted freckles that appear most vibrantly in the summer, identical to my mom’s. My snow-white colored skin takes over in the winter much like my dad’s. I have my fair share of features from both sides of my family. I am equally as much Dominican as I am Irish. I know what I am. I know what I identify as. I look at myself and know that I am equal with both races that are flowing through my bloodstream. But others don’t, that leads to judgment.

It is an interesting feeling being a biracial student in a primarily white school. Although my skin tone blends in with the majority’s, many people can never quite put their finger on “what I am.” Sometimes people can never quite put their finger on “what my family is.” I recall when I had just moved school systems. I was sitting in my new middle school auditorium with both my parents for an over-the-summer welcome tour for new incoming students. Before the tour started, one of the school’s staff members went up to each family so she could greet and introduce herself. I was so excited to meet one of the people who had a big role in my new school. I was sitting in the middle, between both my parents on the old burgundy color chairs that looked like they had been collecting dust all summer long. When the staff member finally came to meet my family, she greeted my father and me and welcomed us to the school. She followed up her welcome with the question “Where is Mrs. Connors?” My mom was sitting next to me the entire time. Looking back I remember I had many thoughts, at this point, many of them are still racing around but they are blurry.

Much like my mind during that confused, cloudy-colored moment. I still sit and ask myself if I look that different from what I am truly made up of. What would it take for people to see who I am? To see what I am made up of. If I were to unfold my skin from the inside out, then would people understand? My family and I have gotten good at laughing those kinds of judgments off. We have adapted to shaking off the stares of confusion from others when walking out together. Although it is currently 2024 and we as a whole have become more accepting in our everyday lives, sometimes it feels as if I am living in a 1940s world.

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Being biracial automatically places you into more than one category. Have you ever had to answer those survey questions that ask about your race? The most recent place I have had to fill out a race-based question was on my FASFA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). I had three boxes to choose from when it came down to identifying my race. I was forced to pick from options that are not an accurate representation of who I am. I was torn about what to choose. Highlighting who I fully am was not an option. For most, you would read this question and be able to check off one box. What happens if who you are involves more than one box? What would you do if half of you had an option to check off but the other half didn’t? I can say I have never been able to answer a race-based question accurately due to the limited choices that are offered. I don’t think anyone should have to feel stuck in classifying themself as one category when it comes to saying who they are. We are all created unique and classic for a reason, everyone should have the option to showcase it.

This article has raised the question of “Who am I?” Throughout my life, I have struggled to supply a conclusive answer because society continuously pressures me to fit into one box, one identity, and one label. They are not satisfied until they can classify me as just “one thing.” I leave each reader with the knowledge that I am not one box, one category, one ethnicity, or race. Ava is the creation of multiple different characteristics, enriched by many cultures and authentic features. I am Ava. Ava is me.

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