My name is Dr. Kimberly S. McAfee, and I am 35 years old.
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
I am half-Korean and half-Caucasian, however the Caucasian side includes Scottish, Irish, English, French, German, and - I have recently learned - Middle Eastern ancestries. My Father actually did one of those DNA ancestry tests, which said he has “Middle Eastern” ancestry; no specifics were given as to a particular country. I had no idea!
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
I currently live in the U.S., specifically in Georgia.
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?
It is! Actually, in Georgia in general, Korean is the third most used language after English and Spanish. Also, there have been several Korean manufacturers to move operations within the region, so as time goes on, there will be a stronger Korean influence - and more Amer-Asians - in the overall Southeast region.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I like to tell everyone that I’m from Ft. Everywhere, USA! Being from a military family, I moved around quite a bit when I was younger. I was born in Korea, lived in Mississippi, a couple places in Georgia, and in Germany (it was West Germany when I got there, and the unified Germany when I left). When I was very young, I was the only mixed kid around...and the only one of Asian descent. Unfortunately, I was bullied for my ethnicity a lot when I was younger. It was until I was 10 years old that I met another Amer-Asian (also half-Korean and half-white) that I wasn’t related to.
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
My Father was in the Army, and met my mother while stationed in South Korea.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Fortunately, no. There were a number of other American/Korean couples marrying at the time, so it wasn’t unusual by any means.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL?
Both sides of my family have been supportive, as there are other Amer-Asian children on both sides. I’ve been very fortunate in that regard.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
We didn’t celebrate Korean-specific holidays growing up (e.g. Chuseok), but did celebrate the American holidays, and those both of my parents celebrated, like Easter and Christmas.
WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?
We spoke English growing up, but my Mother did teach me some Korean. I know a few things, but I’m by no means fluent.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
Wow, that’s a tough one! From my Korean side, I love the food, K-Pop, traditional folk music, K-Dramas, the list goes on! I enjoy learning as much as I can about Korean culture, contemporary and historically. From my Caucasian side, I also enjoy learning about the traditions of the various cultures of my ancestry. I think it’s important for all of us to learn more about our heritage, as it fosters understanding of not only your family dynamic and the cultures that make-up your background, but also increases understanding/appreciation of different cultures in general.
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
My parents shared their backgrounds very openly; my Father shared his family’s traditions and known history, and my Mother shared the same from her family as well.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
We did as I got older. When I was little, I knew I was different (from my classmates and even my parents), but I didn’t really express it to my parents. As I grew to understand my differences and verbalize my concerns, we had open discussions about it.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
I identify as Mixed/Amer-Asian. It’s the most accurate to my ethnicity; if I were to identify as one or the other, I’d feel as if I was denying my parent of the corresponding race.
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
I’m open to dating other ethnicities, and have dated guys of varying ethnicities in the past. It’s really about who the person is versus surface-level differences.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
Ultimately, being mixed - and seeing others who are mixed - signifies progress to me: that people are choosing relationships not based on skin color, but per who the person is inwardly. As time goes on and acceptance/understanding grows, there will be more and more people of mixed ethnicity; being mixed signifies the future to me.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
I’ve had quite a few mixed friends, of various ethnicities, throughout the years. I have learned from each one of them, and they have all enriched my life. We shared an instant understanding and, even though from different backgrounds, shared some similar experiences.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
When I was younger, it used to bother me when people would ask “What are you?” and “Where are you from?” Now that I’m older, I can appreciate that these people are genuinely curious, and that I may be the only person of mixed ethnicity they’ve come upon. I don’t get these questions very often nowadays, but when I do, I’m happy to share. You never know the difference your information can make upon another person.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
That we move passed it! It seems that in American society, we focus on all that divides us, versus what we have in common...which there is infinitely more of. It is my sincere hope that we can collectively learn this, and come together as a more unified society.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?
I am also Christo-Pagan, which is a faith that combines both Christian and Pagan ideals. As far as how that manifests, it is up to the individual practitioner. The experience of being Christo-Pagan is actually very similar to that of being mixed ethnically.