While doing her Social Studies homework last night, Zoe was copying definitions from the glossary of the book onto index cards. After finishing the card for "ethnic group," she asked, "Mom, do you have an ethnic group?"
I had't seen the definition, so I asked her first to read it to me so I'd better understand what she was asking. It was something like "people whose ancestors came from the same place." OK, now I know what I'm dealing with (sort of!).
I answered, "Well, I'm half French and half I'm-not-sure, since we're not exactly sure where Grandpa's ancestors came from -- probably Scotts/Irish/English."
And then I returned the question -- "How about you -- do you have an ethnic group?"
Her answer, "Well, I'm half Chinese and I'm half you, so I guess I'm part French and 'I don't know,' too."
Hmmm. So we talked about whether ancestors in this context means biological relationships, in which case she is fully Chinese. Zoe was adamant that Mimi is her ancestor, and Mimi's mom is her ancestor, so clearly her ancestors are French.
And then, good Catholic school girl that she is, she decided that she and Jesus share an ethnic group since we call him the Father!
It's interesting watching Zoe try to define her identity -- last year, her answer to a similar question was, "No, I'm Chinese. But I know some French culture."
I blogged before about ancestry and adoption -- I'm not sure that my ambivalence on the issue has really changed, but I did enjoy re-reading the comments to that post. Go take a look, and let me know what you think -- are Zoe and Maya French? And since we're related, am I Chinese?
Being “Yellow” and Ashamed
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