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What Are You? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By Aravis M., Elk Grove, CA



     “What are you?” someone asks, referring to my cultural heritage. I take a deep breath.

“African American, German, Cherokee, Osage, Chickasaw, Blackfoot and Creole,” I answer. And it’s true.

My mother’s grandfather was Creole from New Orleans; my mother’s grandmother was German. My father’s grandmother was Cherokee; my father’s grandfather was a black sharecropper whose father lived in slavery. My grandmother looks Italian, my uncle looks Filipino, my grandfather looks African American, and I just look very mixed up. The question of my ethnicity is often asked, especially when people see my older sister, who looks slightly Indian and my youngest sister, whose ringlets of black hair fall to her waist.

Sometimes I simply answer, “I’m everything,” but then I feel compelled to add that, to the best of my knowledge, I can’t claim any Asian heritage.

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