The root of this blog on identity is my home, my family, my history.
Genealogy is a popular pastime now, and not just for retirees. Twenty years ago I was hard-pressed to find someone at the California Genealogical Library who wasn’t receiving social security. Nowadays, a lot of people are interested in their roots. There are shows on TV such as Who Do You Think You Are? (on NBC in coordination with Ancestry.com), and Finding Your Roots (on PBS hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr.) that bring us bits of our past and show how we’re all connected, in ways both good and bad. Genealogy is a valuable hobby that shaped who I am today.
Talking to grandparents and asking about their childhood and about old photos honed my organization and analytical skills. I had to keep track of stories and numerous extended family members going back generations. I gleaned remnants of ethnicity that tend to melt over the generations. I had the ultimate luxury of having grandparents close to me. I was rich because of this. I was privileged to grow up surrounded by family.
Through various additional experiences I became focused on identity itself, how we come to have them, what they mean, and what they do both to us and our world. Now, I am editing my first novel, a piece of historical fiction set in the California Gold Rush. It’s designed to present a literary description of racial identity development as opposed to a literal one.
Each character struggles for enlightenment whether consciously or not. They arrive from different parts of the world to achieve a goal, but come up against competing cultural hegemonies. They each become perpetrators and victims of racist acts. In the end, racism is embraced or rejected and legitimacy is either gained or lost.
This book breaks away from the simple black-white dichotomy, which has always been more applicable out East. I try to keep current demographics in mind without straying too much from the demographics of the Gold Rush. Historical accuracy is very important to me. My protagonist is from the Philippines. There weren’t many Filipinos in the Gold Rush, but isn’t it time for a Filipino hero? Tomás is his name.
Welcome to my blog!