In this week’s issue of Time Out New York, there’s an interview with Sandra Oh about a new Off-Broadway play she’s in, Satellites. The director, Diana Son, has a really interesting quote in the article, thinking about her daughter in the context of the play (which is about a biracial family):
“What have I passed on? Is the only thing I’ve given you the reason to be called a name when you walk down the street? I can’t teach you the language or the culture or customs. What are you?”
What am I? I’m a suburban white girl. So if people are calling me names, it’s probably not because of my race. There are plenty of other reasons they can find, but that’s not usually one. Regardless of my inability to identify with that part of her quote, though, I find the other part really interesting, because I think cultural heritage is something that some ethnicities protect harder than others, which is a shame.
What am I? I’m Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, French and Italian. And unless it’s March 17, you don’t hear much about British-Isles-ethnicity-keeping. Nobody bothers much about it, I suppose.
I don’t speak Gaelic. I’ve never been to Wales. I can’t do any French or Italian cooking. I’ve never read James Joyce. And I can’t make a real cup of tea. It’s kind of shameful, really.
But I am trying. I can read French passably, I love Oscar Wilde, I hop a plane to England every chance I can find. And I’ve had whiskey for breakfast.
Truly, though, I think it would be nice to have something handed down – some custom or language or tradition. Other than my constant need for SPF 45.