A Letter to Rachel Dolezal From a Child of Adoption
Listen, Rachel Dolezal —
I don't know your life.
I don't know if you were born in a tepee or if you were actually abused as a child with baboon whips from South Africa. All I know is that your story made me second-guess the glossary used in my own as an adopted person unknowingly living in ethnic fluidity (if such a thing does exist).
I was born in Colombia. This makes me Colombian.
Then, I was imported into the United States and became an American citizen.
God Bless the Colombian-American!
For a final plot twist, my tabula rasa was wiped clean upon adoption by an Italian-American family only to be saturated in marinara sauce.
Who am I then?
Though my birth certificate spells out in ink that I am Hispanic, the identity that I've acquired sings something of a different tune.
Until this point, I've capitalized on the value of a hyphen, referring to myself as an "honorary Italian-American Colombian". I recognize that I do not have the right to claim a race that is not mine, but I've inevitably assimilated into the Italian-American culture as my biological ancestry remains yet a mystery.
Though I know of the significance of grapes in Colombia on New Year's Eve, I have tasted sympathy lasagna seasoned with tears while mourning the loss of my Italian-American grandparents. I inhale just as deeply as my adopted relatives when burdened to resolve the innocent inquiry, "But, isn't your last name French?"
(It is not. My grandfather ingeniously swapped an 'e' in for an 'i' because a Frenchman was more likely to be hired over an Italian named 'Gaetano Lardieri'.)
The garlic emulsified into my blood via osmosis is not qualification for the gratuitous assumption of a racial title.
I am not Italian, I may not even be fully Colombian,
and I am definitely not Caitlyn Jenner.
I'm still trying to figure out who I am, let alone who I was, or who I might have been under different circumstances. Until then, the hyphen will remain a loyal friend to celebrate that our many acquired 'selves' can happily coexist.