Hey, my name is Noah Gallegos. As of now, I’m 14 and I live in the Bay Area. My dad is Chinese, Spanish, and French while my mom is mostly Hispanic, some Filipina, and little Native American.
My dad grew up in San Francisco and my mom grew up in San Jose. I only speak English sadly.
I have only recently found out what the term “Hapa” has come to mean. I discovered it when I found a portrait book titled “Part Asian, 100% Hapa” by Kip Fulbeck.
As a child, I didn’t really care what I was, and I didn’t have many difficulties at my school since I lived in a very diverse place. Since my parents have been divorced since I was a baby, my mom mostly had custody over my older sister and me. She insisted I was only Hispanic. She hardly ever mentioned my Chinese side since she doesn’t like bringing my dad into the picture, so I was very confused if I was really related to my Chinese grandmother or not. She looked so different than I did.
Whenever I was with her and my dad, we would visit Chinatown to see my great grandmother. The household was very Asian of course, and I would hear Cantonese being spoken in the halls. At the same time, I would also hear Spanish in the halls of my other great grandmother’s house on my mom’s side of my family.
Everything seemed so different between Hispanic and Chinese traditions. I was conflicted about whether my appearance matched that of a Chinese person, and whether I was Mexican enough. I began to neglect my ancestry. My dad was a little disappointed with me pointing out how unusual the Chinese culture was when it came to celebrating New Years. Chinese New Years is probably the holiday my family celebrates the most. It is rather ironic that my mother hardly pays attention to Hispanic traditions on the other hand.
For me, everyday experiences include: hearing my mom communicating with other parents in Spanish, seeing my dad cook up a Chinese-influenced dish, and listening to my grandmother talk about some Asian church service she went to. I also get people guessing what I am. Responses I typically get are, “You look Filipino,” or “You look like some weird Mexican mix or something.”
During middle school, I’ve made many friends with mixed ancestry like me. On the inside, I’ve become more secure with who I am. Being mixed now makes me proud, it makes me unique as a person, and it makes me part of California history. I’m fascinated by the fact the Hispanic and Chinese have their own stories to tell about events like the Gold Rush.
I wish for all of you guys to embrace who you are, and know that in the end, race is only a label. It is the inside that counts.