This week I interviewed the mixed-race Angle Grammer, who comes from the Philippines.She studies at Northwest Missouri State University. I knew her in Missouri Music Educator Conference of last year and we had a very great talk.
Angle’s mother was born in the Philippines and then moved to America when she was in her early 20s. Angle’s father was born in America. She and her brother are both half Filipino, half white.
“We were always exposed at home to our Filipino culture. Mum made us Filipino food for every meal and tells us about her life in the Philippines and the family that I had there. My brother and I even got enrolled in a Filipino dance class.”
Angle thinks it is a bit difficult to live in the multicultural environment of the USA. She sometimes cannot find a balance point between the two cultures she is born with.
“Sometimes I’d be embarrassed of the Filipino customs my mom had taught me, or sometimes I felt that I wasn’t doing enough to appreciate my Filipino culture. Often I found that I didn’t know where I fit in here in America and that I needed to choose one culture or the other. Luckily it’s not like that much anymore! But I’d definitely say being multicultural in America can be a struggle.”
While growing up, she always knew that she looked different from the white kids at school, and she was proud of who she was- so she would talk about her Filipino culture with pride. However, this is inevitable, that she, like other children who have multiple cultural backgrounds, experienced misunderstanding or teasing.
“Some kids were fascinated, but I remember others picking on me for being different. they’d tease me by singing “ching chong ling long” and saying that my mom was weird. It really bothered me, but I never shunned my Filipino side for it. Instead, I combatted the bullies by embracing who I was even more.”
Growing up in Filipino culture has definitely helped to guide her career path. Her goal is to open a bakery in the Kansas City area with desserts from the Philippines and possibly other countries.
“My goal with the bakery is to give a safe space for everyone to try new things, or multicultural people to come eat what they love in a good environment, and, to give everyone a place to have conversations about different cultures and what they all have to share.”
She also loves learning about different cultures when she feels a little distant from other Americans. Hearing other Asian-American’s lives helps her reconnect. And growing up with two cultures has made her very open-minded.
“I believe there is absolutely no room in my life for prejudices or judgments on other people’s backgrounds and lives. We’re all different, and there shouldn’t be a ‘standard culture’. I was often teased for how I looked and what I ate, and these experiences have toughened my skin, and now I do what I can to stand up for minorities, and give us a voice.”