I am the son of a Filipino immigrant woman and an American man, and much of my life can be explained through the balancing act between these two distinct cultures and backgrounds. Being multiethnic has been challenging at times, but I am proud to be who I am and proud of how these parts of me have shaped my worldview. I profoundly believe in the ability to embrace and incorporate two seemingly incompatible sides into one complete whole.
I want to enter politics because I think our society, which is so focused on categorization, labels, and branding people as “white” or “black,” “gay” or “straight,” right as they’re born, could benefit from a person who takes full accountability for the person that they are, even if that person represents an intersection between two of these socially constructed categories. Dating back early in our country’s history, people were legally categorized as “quadroons” and “octoroons,” just based on whether some African heritage could supposedly be discovered in their ancestral lineage. There were times so recently in our country’s history where a black person could be punished for seeking medical attention at a “white” hospital, or for drinking from a “white” water fountain, or even to be buried in a “white” cemetery. Even though the issues of race and racism in this country may not take on such a public face in our time, race is built into the very fabric of our justice system and our government, even if people cannot see it or refuse to acknowledge it. I believe the time is now to break down such barriers, to allow people to coexist in a way that doesn’t insist on highlighting their differences, rather, focusing on their similarities.
I’ve been told in my life that I’m “not Asian enough” because my “eyes aren’t slitted,” or that I am “not white enough” because I “don’t look anything like [my] father.” People have asked me on many occasions if I was adopted, and people I meet often make a game out of guessing my race. I am tired of people’s incessant desire to separate men and women into categories that seem palatable to the mainstream, and I hope that a career in politics can help me spread the message that it is okay to be exactly the person you are, regardless of the way society insists on seeing you.