Friday, June 29, 2012

“I only heard about race when I came up here” Reflecting on Haakaam Pascal's Interview

“I didn’t grow up on race see, everyone was one color to me, red—or just human. You go two legs? you’re human enough for me, I don’t care about your color. You talk? Oh I Talk too! That’s all I cared about back in the Caribbean days; I only heard about race when I came up here”

Haakaam, aka Haak raises a very important issue regarding identity within a majority which may  be of the same skin color as one's self. Being of African descent from the Caribbean, Haak may have looked of the same ethnic background as other individuals living in Thurston Woods. Nevertheless, Haak had a hard time belonging to this larger group of African Americans because of his inability to speak English. He mentions that he only heard about race after coming to the U.S. 
Being an immigrant myself, I understood the idea of not being a part of a collective of people that may be considered part of your same race/ethnic group. Back in my ESL days it was hard to fit in with the Puerto Ricans, Mexicans and other individuals due to my Colombian accent and my height. Like Haak I did feel out of place since I did not feel a sense of belonging to the Latino population. At the same time, I was told constantly by surveys that race was a check-box away; and I was not "White" either, though Latinos are advised to mark "White" as our race and "Latino/Hispanic" as our ethnic group. I understand the need for these methods but perhaps, as we see with Haak, they may be more diving than we think.