Inculturation/My Culture/Race and ethnicity Category Not Found by Blanca Morales When I was a kid, I never realized I had an ethnicity. I was simply me — a girl who loved to be outside, read, paint, go camping. I wanted to be a fashion designer, an author, or maybe even an archeologist. When it was time to apply to universities, my eyes were opened and I got a taste of what it was like in the real world. According to our country’s census system, I’m a minority. That sounded preposterous. How was it possible that anyone would see me as a something rather than a someone?! But they did. My friends and I were all classified under different categories, as if we were produce at the grocery store. That didn’t sit well with me. Around that same time, I began to travel more and learn about different perspectives. In Latin America, I was told that I wasn’t really one of them — “you’re a gringa,” they would say. Canadians thought I was simply American. The locals of different states I visited saw me as “different,” as if I wasn’t part of the same team. Apparently, speaking more than one language or having a different type of name puts you in the minor league. “Your name… it doesn’t sound American. Where are you from?” “Florida.” “But where are you from?” “Just outside of Miami.” “But where are you really from?” “My mother’s womb.” I suddenly felt homeless. I was from neither here nor there, like a woman without a country. And I wasn’t the only one who felt as if they didn’t fit in anywhere. Straddling two countries, two cultures, or two languages is an exhausting balancing act many “minorities” grapple with. All of this began to rock my identity as I wondered, “What am I? Where do I belong?” Not What am I, but Who am I Many of my friends also struggled to check one of the many options for race on college applications: Non-Hispanic Black, Non-Hispanic White, Native American, Hispanic (that’s not a race but an ethnicity, by the way), or Other. Most people checked “other” because all of the options felt limiting, incomplete, and inaccurate. We were being put into a box, and we all instinctively felt we were so much more than that. We were on to something here. To lump people into one generic category is to disregard their personhood. As human beings, we were created in the image and likeness of God. Could God be put into a box? Definitely not. Could God be classified under a race or ethnicity? That would be ridiculous. Likewise, as persons, we are so much more than a category on a list. We are not a what but a who. We are each unique and unrepeatable, with gifts, personalities, thoughts, and interests that no one else has. We are human beings with an immortal soul, created to love and be loved. A Checklist That Actually Matters So who are we supposed to be? Here are some things to remind us of our true identity: We are sons and daughters of God. This is our true identity, and it is the one trait we will take with us into heaven. Our relationship status, legal status, or job title may change throughout the course of our lives, but we’ll always and forever be a son or daughter of the Father. We are His beloved. There is nothing in this world that can take away God’s love for us (see Romans 8:31-39). That is the rock-solid foundation upon which our identity rests, and no one’s huffing and puffing can ever knock that down. We are pure awesomeness. Take note of the things that make you “you” and celebrate them. Go head, do a victory dance and thank God for your individuality. We are designed by the greatest artist in the universe, making each of us a one-of-a-kind work of art created for God’s heavenly Kingdom. We are family. God is so good. He loves us so much that He wanted us to be a part of a big, beautiful family. We have Jesus as our brother, and He also gave us His mother to be our momma as well. We have big brothers and sisters in the saints, our role models and cheerleaders. We are all brothers and sisters playing on the same team. We are made for eternity. Guess what? Earth isn’t our final destination. Saint Paul reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20). We are part of a faith that transcends time, culture, and place. This universal faith, which is celebrated and lived out all over the world through the Catholic Church, is taking us to our true home where all are welcome. Praise God my sense of self doesn’t depend on what others think or say — because that wouldn’t get me very far. Being of a particular ethnicity or cultural background is one facet of many that makes up who I am. But, it is in Christ alone that I find my true self, even if I have to be reminded of this truth every day. I pray that you’ll also be able to see yourself in light of His truth, and that the truth of who you are is something you’ll come to know, love, and rejoice in.