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Deborah Jiang Stein

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Who the Self Am I?

Posted: 04/03/09 03:29 PM ET

Since when is race funny, or a topic for humor? Is now really the time to poke fun and play around with race, or with anything else, for that matter? After all, the world economy tanked in 2008. Who can laugh?

I, for one. And you should, too. We all need it once in a while. Many onces, actually. Especially now.

When Barack Obama announced his Mutt Club membership on November 7, 2008 in his first press conference since being elected, well...not to be arrogant or anything, but I didn't join his club, he joined my Mutt Squad. Little did he know I'd been concocting edgy micro-essays for my own personal muttness for years, where I took on my self-proclaimed role of Chief Mutt Correspondent.

Where else is there as qualified a candidate as me? Oh, I know there are others out there, but I stand out from the rest - okay, I'm going to brag here - I have a few more mutt credits than most. More than anyone I've ever met.

So, ignore any derogatory definitions that you've ever heard for the word "mutt." Think of it to mean a multi of anything, and a shift of the word from anything offensive. In fact, it's the opposite. Think Mutt Pride. This is the launch of the Mutt Pride Movement! It's about time we had our place in the world.

Here's a nugget of proof about the Mutt Movement. Urbandictionary.com just accepted my creation of a mutt-ossary, with definitions for muttilicious, muttcellent, muttitude, muttificient, muttnormous, muttsy, muttrageous, and others as new words in their dictionary.

We need this new etymology because we're everywhere. While Barack Obama, Tiger Woods, Mariah Carey, Halle Berry, and others have brought multiracial awareness to the forefront, the surge in multiracial Americans crosses political, economic, and social lines. CNN cites the United States' number of racially blended families of all ethnicities as seven million.

I doubt many out there are 100% anything. If you take a look back at your family history, I bet you'll find "muttness" throughout. Just by doing so, you can call yourself a mutt, and you'll be one degree closer to our President.

As you look further, you may discover what Dr. Ira B. Berlin, a professor of American history at the University of Maryland states. He believes that if any branch of someone's family has been in America since the seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, it's highly likely they "will find an African and an American Indian."

Granted, you may not have my mutt ingredients, but then, do you really want them?

I'm a Mutt of the First Order from the sovereignty of Muttdom.

• One of seven million multiracial people in the United States. (I'm bits and pieces of plenty: Greek, Asian, Latina, and a document suggesting the "one drop of blood" rule...plus I'm Jewish, with an affinity toward Eastern philosophies.)
• One of 3+ billion females in the world (the U.S. has around 4.8 million more females than males; no wonder it's hard to find a good man.)
• One of millions of entrepreneurs.
• One of who-knows-how-many billions of mothers in the world.

That's the every day part of my muttness. Here's where it goes off the charts, and hang on. I'm also:

• One of some: babies born in prison.
• One of some: born heroin-addicted
• One of millions of former foster kids
• One of millions of adoptees, and millions of adoptive parents
• One of many former drug addicts, and ... well, there's even more.

But I'm the mother of little kids, so I'll save the rest for another time. My girls have enough to absorb about their mutty mother without adding any more. It's got to be challenging having a mutt for a mother!

Speaking of motherhood, news anchor Solidad O'Brien, has a realistic take on the mama-role: "I embrace the chaos," she says. She's an authentic mutt, Her father is Australian (his parents are Irish, therefore the surname O'Brien) and her mother is of Cuban heritage.

This is Not Only about Race and Ethnicity

There're all kinds of mutts. If you're white, though, and not a multiracial mutt like me, don't dishearten. You could be a career mutt. What the mutt is that? Let's say you're an SEC Commissioner during the day (if so, I bet you wish you weren't these days), a stem cell research scientist at night, and a hip-hop hot dawg roller skater on weekends. Then every August, you're the shoe editor for Manolo Blahnik's fall line. You've got to pay for your $14,000 Manolo Blahnik alligator boots somehow!

And I thought I was mutty.

But this is not just about race. We're all hybrids, and no matter who or what we are, it's our attitude in life that really counts. What's attitude got to do with anything? It's personal and different for each individual, but it's simple.

How aligned are you with your own truths? How do you treat others? What values do you hold high? No longer do bank accounts, stock portfolios, SUV's, or square footage of summer homes seem to make much difference in defining the American identity. If you're lucky, like me, you removed yourself from those definitions, by choice, or by force.

It's often easy to discover our outsides, our race or ancestry. And if you don't know, there's always DNA testing. That's what I had to do.

But most importantly, look inside yourself. That's where our truths rest.

Whatever you are on the outside, defined by skin color, race or ethnicity, dig deep, and know yourself inside. Know what truly matters to you and understand yourself. Most of all, every once in a while, just to make sure you're connected to your true core, ask yourself, "Who the self am I?"

Whatever you find inside when you explore there, make sure to keep the lamp of humor lit. A little humor goes a long ways in facing the bumps of life.

So, what the mutt are you?

* * *

This is another Musing for Mutts Like Me.

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Email: deborah.kjs [at] gmail [dot] com

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