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Thursday, July 24, 2003

Enigmatic Physiognomy  
Last week while I was out shopping, a woman asked me if I was mixed. I didn't understand her question, so I responded with something witty like "Huh?" She clarified that she was inquiring after my heritage. Ohhhh, that. Yes, I am. My mother's Navajo and my father's English, Irish, and Swedish. She told me I had "amazing features". I said thank you and laughed a little because it was such an odd exchange.

People are often confused about my ethnicity. When they don't ask, and assume instead, they always get it wrong. In fact, earlier this year I was mistaken for white for the first time ever. That took me off guard and I think I responded a little strongly, "I'm not white!" Not with an angry tone, mind you, but more of an incredulous "where'd you get that idea" tone. Most often I'm assumed to be Asian, because of my Navajo bone structure and pale skin. One time, a Japanese girl walked up to me and started talking to me in Japanese, assuming I was the same. But this most recent instance was unusual in that I'd never been referred to as "mixed". I suppose I am, but to my ears it sounds like an old-fashioned term, like asking if someone's a mulatto.

I took it as a compliment, since I'm sure she meant it that way. Amazing features. Cool.