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I can always see an Iranian, a Chilean, an Argentine, or an American …. and think, I’m like you in some way…

I can always see an Iranian, a Chilean, an Argentine, or an American …. and think, I’m like you in some way…

My mother is Persian and my father is American; I was born in Argentina but lived in Chile most of my life. Confusing? Yes, a little. But luckyly in Latin America conceptions of race and identity are more flexible and embracing than in other regions of the world. Here, everyone is Latin American, Chilean or Argentinean, and the ethnic origin is a surname. This is why the Mexican philosopher, José Vasconcelos, said that Latin Americans are the “Cosmic Race” – a new race drawing from the best elements of all the peoples of the world.

But I remember when I was a teenager traveling to the US and feeling bad about myself when people called me half X half Y. It made me feel as not pertaining to any of my cultures of origin. And I did: I was all of them, fully.

As I grow older I come to value more and more the diversity of my origins. It’s good to be able to crash relatives in different places of the world, and it’s really convenient to have two passports. It’s also great to relate to diverse people. I can always see an Iranian, a Chilean, an Argentine, or an American (or more generally, a Middle Easterner or Latin American), and think, I’m like you in some way. With time I've come to see my identity as complex, rich and full of possibilities.

 

- Naim