Monday, October 22, 2012

Things I Wish I Knew

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I went on a retreat for Urban Servant Corps this past weekend and we did an activity called Cross The Line. We did something similar my junior year at LSTC during orientation, only with a circle instead of a line. The premise of the exercise is that everyone in the group stands in a line and a moderator reads out various situations. If you self identify as being a part of one of those situations, you step forward and are asked to think about how you feel about being part of the group that "crossed the line" and how you feel to be apart from the rest.

For example, the moderator read "If you identify as LGBTQ, cross the line." I, along with several others crossed the line. For me, in that instance, being apart from the others did not really affect me, nor did being with a group of other people who had also crossed the line, as I see my sexuality as something that just exists and I don't have any problems talking about it.

However, there was one question that made me start to cry because I had crossed the line. The statement was "If you do not know your ethnic heritage, cross the line." I stepped forward, along with many other people. Granted, I know that my heritage is part German and part Welsh, but there are also parts that I don't know...what I'd like to term EuroMutt.

As a white person with an exclusively European heritage, I'm part of millions of people who have little to no knowledge about their ancestry past a few generations ago...we see ourselves as Americans...something that saddens me greatly. I have friends who understand deeply the ethnic groups from which they come and how that has influenced who they are, and I don't have that, and likely never will. Part of my history, and indeed, part of myself was lost at Ellis Island not too many generations ago.

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