A Different Kind of Multiracial

After reflecting on Kayla DeVault’s essay, “Native and European – How Do I Honor All Parts of Myself?”, I would consider my ethnic identity to be even more complex than hers.  My mom is Chinese (from the Canton Province of China), and my father is European, mixed with English, Scottish, and Mestizo (Spanish and Maya) cultures. Therefore, I am, technically, also a multiracial person.  Reading the introduction to DeVault’s essay, however, made me feel somewhat sad. She describes many of her relatives on her mom’s side cooking together based on a recipe from her grandma on her dad’s side. Although I am also mixed, engaging in various family traditions is not something I have done often.  My father is not the type of person who finds joy in keeping up with traditions/celebrations, and the only one I can remember is my paternal grandfather hosting Christmas lunch at his home. Therefore, I am very grateful for the few, yet meaningful, traditions I have experienced with my mom’s side of the family.

Hence, although I am multiracial, the family traditions that I know have mostly been with my mom’s family, who are Chinese (Cantonese).  However, instead of saying that my ethnic identity is solely Chinese, I would still say that it is a mix of many cultures. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Hong Kong (after having previously left their home in China) with my aunt and settled in Honduras, where my mom and uncle were born. Then, they migrated again and came to Belize.  As DeVault states in her essay, when people leave their country, they tend to let traditions fade away. My grandparents would never willingly drop their traditions; however, many of the original lavish foods of the Chinese culture cannot be gotten in Belize, and the number of Asians in Belize is not plentiful enough for them to hold celebrations of all their religious and cultural feasts.

Moreover, Belize, my homeland, is made up of many cultures, including the Hispanics, Creole, Garifuna, Chinese, Maya, and many more.  Therefore, we all tend to celebrate each other’s traditions. I feel, then, that our Chinese traditions are intertwined with the traditions of many other cultures.  Although it has been challenging, my grandparents have found ways to hold on to certain traditions. For instance, they used to own a restaurant, and my grandfather was an excellent cook.  Although he passed away when I was six, I still remember the Chinese desserts he used to make for me. We have also managed to celebrate annually the Moon Festival and Lunar New Year, and have often gotten food from other Chinese Belizeans who own restaurants and who have been in touch with my mom and all of my family on her side over the years.

In addition to the few Chinese traditions, we also always enjoy rice and beans with stewed chicken, which is part of the Belize Creole culture.  As Belizeans, we all celebrate Garifuna Settlement Day and La Ruta Maya, commemorating the journeys travelled by the Garifuna and the Maya. We experience Hispanic culture not only from their exquisite foods available in all districts of Belize, but also from our regular trips to go shopping in Chetumal (Mexico), which is also a huge part of Belizean culture.  Hence, my ethnic identities would consist of my Chinese culture and the many cultures that make up Belize. Although the latter is not part of my genetic make-up, celebrating their traditions has presented me with some truly amazing experiences and is indeed a huge part of who I am.