On the first day of 5th grade, my teacher announced that we were going to do things a
little different this year. She said we were going to be in middle school next year so we
would have to have more responsibility this year. Plus, we had to show the younger kids
how things were done.
First up, our teacher said we would fill out our own registration cards. We didn’t have to
bring them home to have our parents fill them out anymore. It made sense – all of us
should know our address and phone number and parent’s work number.
There was a question for “Race.” It gave several choices and said to pick one. My 10
year-old brain thought my dad is white and my mom is from the Philippines and I love
them both. So I filled in the dot for “White” and the dot for “Asian” and turned my card in.
The teacher walked my card back to my desk. She said, “You accidentally filled in two
dots for this one.” I said I hadn’t because I meant to do that. She mildly scolded me for
“not following directions” and walked away. I was confused – I thought I gave an honest
I went home that afternoon and my parents saw that I was subdued. After some
coaxing, I said I got in trouble with the teacher. This surprised them – they knew I really
liked my teacher and tried to make her happy. I explained what happened and I saw
them look at each other.
“Listen, we need to talk,” my mom said to me. My parents explained to me that I was a
little different. I can remember very well that this is something that a 10 year-old kid
does not want to hear. “No, I am the same as the other kids!”, I shouted. “No, you are
not,” they said, “but let us explain.”
They told me that there just weren’t that many mixed-race kids running around. I was
really surprised since I thought every other kid was mixed-race like me. “Not quite,” they
said. “This is all still pretty new.”
My mom got a serious look on her face when she said, “You and your brother and your
sister are like little bridges between your dad’s people and my people. You have made it
easier for all of them to become family because they all love you guys so much.”