You’d be surprised how often I get asked this question!

Like they say in Puerto Rico, “¡Esa es la pregunta de los 64 mil chavitos!”  The literal translation is “That is the 64 thousand pennies question.”  The statement literally means that the person has asked a somewhat complicated question at least in my case. 🙂

“Where are you from?” {Big sigh!}   When I answer Puerto Rico I get puzzled looks followed by another question. “Where is that?” {Huge sigh with a smile!} Then I go on to explain that it’s a small island in the Caribbean.  Believe it or not, I get asked another question! “Was it hard to get your green card?” Ha!!! I literally laugh at this question! Especially when it was asked by a professional colleague of mine. I was like, “Wow! Did she just really ask me that question?”
I explain to my very professional, and educated colleague that Puerto Rico is part of the United States, and that we’re a commonwealth. Anyone born on the island is a U.S. citizen, and we do not require green cards or passports to come to the U.S.A.
I remember walking into a  book store one day. This lady is staring at me, and very bluntly asks,  “What tribe do you belong to?” I was like, “Excuse me?” I was totally clueless about what she was talking about! She asks again, “Yes, what Native American tribe do you belong to?”
Another day I was at the library speaking to my child in Spanish. A group of girls (teenagers) were watching us. One of them approaches me, and asks,  “Are you Mexican?”  Then on another occasion, an older man asks, “How long ago did you move here from India?”
These are just some instances that I recall being asked where I was from.  Most of the time, I get glances, double takes, and stares…especially when I’m with my husband and child. I literally “stand out” wherever I go. I’m a tall Latina woman that hails from New York, but has Puerto Rican and Ecuadorian parents. Married to an Afro American man, and we have a son.
We’re a biracial, bilingual, and very multicultural family!
I guess this comes as a result of living in a small predominantly Black/White southern town in the U.S.A. In all honesty, it doesn’t faze me at all being questioned where are from or what am I. They ask this question because of my looks, or because of my accent when speaking in English.

I can answer by telling them I’m from (town where we live), but I know my answer will not suffice their curiosity.  So I’m happy to oblige, and educate them!

However, being questioned where I’m from or what am I so frequently brings me to think of our beautifully mixed son.  He’s just 5 yrs. ago, and I’m teaching him to embrace his biracial, and multicultural identity with pride.  So when the question of “los 64 mil chavitos” arises he’ll be able to answer with pride!

This post has been written for inclusion in the Multicultural Carnival hosted by Stephen Greene from Head of the Herd.

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  1. How any educated adult would not know where Puerto Rico is or that it's part of the U.S. is beyond me. I mean even if they slept thru school I would think they'd heard of J-Lo, right? I can see where you confuse people a little, being so tall. I really have met very few Hispanic women of height 🙂 The thing that *concerns* me is that people have such a strong need to categorize each other by race, country or ethnicity. Why does a stranger have such a deep need to put you in a box? I know I do it too sometimes, so I'm not saying that as a judgement, but a real question.

  2. Girl, you have no idea how shocked I was!!! Mind you, she has a doctoral degree!!! Yes! I totally get where you're coming from with the "real question", as I too, have often asked myself of others. Perhaps it's just human nature to be inquisitive? LOL

  3. I didn't know you are Puerto Rican blogger :0) Happy to have found you. I was mentioning to another blogger in this blog carnival how the pop group Menudo has a special place in my heart :0) I admire your take on peoples questions. Personally, I think its the best approach sometimes its just ignorance and they do need to be educated.

    I can imagine how complicated and frustrated these experience can be. Add a child into

  4. My friend you are amazing and I have no doubt that your five year old would already answer the question of "los 64 mil chavitos" with grace and pride.

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