Caralie Maris Wegeng; 21 years old
WHAT MIX ARE YOU?
White: German and Irish (as far as I know)
WHERE DO YOU CURRENTLY LIVE?
Westwood Village, Los Angeles, CA / Santa Clarita, CA
IS THE COMMUNITY YOU LIVE IN NOW DIVERSE?
Currently, I’m attending UCLA; both the students and faculty are racially and ethnically diverse, however Asian and White people seem to make up the majority. Santa Clarita while having some variety is predominantly White.
WHERE DID YOU GROW UP?
I grew up and lived in a few different places. My early childhood was spent in the San Fernando Valley which was diverse, although I was around mostly Latinos (more so Mexican) and Filipinos. Since this was so early on in my life, I cannot recall being around mixed kids. I’m sure there were mixed kids; I was just probably unaware.
I also lived in a suburb in St. Louis, MO which had very little racial and ethnic diversity. There were maybe a handful of mixed kids, but our mixed identities were never part of the conversation. After 5 years in St. Louis, I moved to Austin, TX which is predominantly White and Latino (Again, mostly Mexican. Side note: The Mexican culture between LA and Austin are very different in certain ways which I found to be interesting). Because Austin is such an eccentric and free-spirited city, living there was what first sparked deeper thoughts of my racial and ethnic identity. Sometimes, I was the token Asian girl in various groups at school which was a weird experience for me since I didn’t have a strong identification with being Asian.
Although I didn’t become the best of friends with most of the mixed people I knew, I definitely felt a sense of solace and community knowing they were there (especially mixed Asian people).
HOW DID YOUR PARENTS MEET?
They were introduced through mutual friends.
WERE THERE ANY SIGNIFICANT OBSTACLES IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP CORRELATED TO YOUR BACKGROUNDS?
Both sides were accepting of the ethnic differences. Although, one of my mother’s sisters was not very fond of my father in the beginning because he was in the Navy.
HAS YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY ALWAYS BEEN SUPPORTIVE OF YOU BEING MULTIRACIAL?
Yes. It has never been a negative experience in my family life.
DID YOU CELEBRATE TRADITIONS FROM BOTH SIDES OF YOUR FAMILY?
Somewhat. There isn’t really a specific culture we engage in on my father’s side. On my mother’s side, we will have family parties with my Filipino side since we live near them. Every once in awhile, we will see extended family on my Filipino side which means greeting a lot of our elders in the traditional Filipino way by taking the person’s hand (who we are greeting) and lightly touching it to our own forehead. I can’t recall anything else specific at the moment, but family gatherings are usually a medley of both sides.
WERE THERE MULTIPLE LANGUAGES SPOKEN IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD?
English and Tagalog. Only my mother speaks Tagalog; my siblings and I unfortunately cannot.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT YOUR CULTURAL BACKGROUND?
The food is wonderful and can win over anyone’s heart. I don’t eat much Filipino food these days since I am vegan. I have grown a special love for Filipino desserts as many of them are vegan friendly (Thank goodness for coconut and rice!).
The Philippines also has a lot of beautiful traditional clothing having influences from Spain and some from pre-Spanish colonization (more jewelry and accessories; minimal clothing -- very tribal looking). I also love the many traditional dances of the Philippines. They’re super entertaining! Especially Tinikling which is the Filipino bamboo dance. Watch some videos online if you’re unfamiliar. It’s great!
WHAT ACTIONS DID YOUR PARENTS TAKE TO TEACH YOU ABOUT YOUR DIFFERENT BACKGROUNDS?
Nothing really. Mostly just food and talking about our ethnic mixture to bring awareness to it, but nothing specific.
DID YOU TALK ABOUT RACE A LOT IN YOUR HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE GROWING UP?
Not very often. I think and talk about it much more often ever since I entered college.
DO YOU IDENTIFY AS MIXED OR SOMETHING ELSE?
Yes. Sometimes multiracial/multiethnic, Filipino and American, Asian and White. Depends on the situation or form I’m filling out.
DOES RACE WEIGH INTO WHO YOU CHOOSE TO DATE?
Not at all. I’ve dated people of various racial backgrounds - mixed and not mixed.
WHAT DOES BEING MIXED MEAN TO YOU?
To me being mixed means getting to enjoy and embrace multiple racial and ethnic identities that are so important to me. Although a big part of this does include the struggle of balancing these identities. Being mixed is a constant learning experience. For the entirety of my life, I feel like I will always keep learning about my mixed heritage, especially about my place in society as a mixed person and how I will keep adapting to that role as society changes.
DO YOU HAVE A LOT OF FRIENDS WHO ARE MIXED?
Ever since I joined UCLA’s Mixed Student Union, many mixed people have become my close friends. From them I’ve learned how varied the experiences of mixed people can be. At the same time, many of us share very similar experiences regarding our mixed identities even though most of us come from different ethnic backgrounds. Most importantly, they’ve given me reassurance that I don’t have to choose a side nor do I have to let others categorize me in such a way.
ARE THERE ANY COMMENTS YOU ARE REALLY TIRED OF HEARING FROM PEOPLE IN REGARDS TO RACE/CULTURE?
You don’t look Asian.
Filipino isn’t even Asian.
I thought you were White.
I thought you were Mexican.
Filipinos are like the Mexicans or Blacks of Asia.
Is your mom a nurse?
Your dad must’ve had yellow fever.
Oh, you’re only half though so you don’t really count.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA IN REGARDS TO RACE?
For people to not be judged (underestimated, overestimated), discriminated against, or be afforded certain privileges because of their race.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SHARE?
Facebook: Caralie Wegeng