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About this iReport
  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view ionemaldo's profile
    Posted August 28, 2013 by
    ionemaldo
    Location
    Portland, Texas
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Everyday racism: Your stories

    Growing up in Utah.

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Ione Maldonado was born and raised in the Salt Lake City area in the 1980s. Her mother is white and her father is black. “I look white (olive tones) but people don't understand when I discuss my family and race. People always react as if I am pulling their leg or telling some joke,” she said.

    The 33-year-old describes her life as a journey to find her identity. It all started when she was a child. “Friends and neighbors on the block would be reluctant or hesitant to talk to us because we were different than other families. Not to forget, we are also not of the LDS (Mormon) faith either. I did not have many friends in school; I am not entirely sure if it was because I am half-black or non-LDS,” she wrote on CNN iReport.

    “I am glad I have a mother and father who have always taught me to be proud of my background because it is who I am today. Who would have known that at 33 years old, I am still trying to find my identity and be proud of it?” she wrote.

    These days, she is still searching for her identity. Maldonado lives in Portland, Texas, where she is often mistakenly thought to be Hispanic, she said. She and her husband, who is Hispanic, have a five-year-old daughter. Maldonado says she is doing her best to teach her daughter to embrace various cultures as opposed to judging people by their skin color.

    This story is part of CNN iReport’s Everyday Racism project, an effort to shine light on and spark discussion about racism in today’s world. Please note that CNN cannot independently verify the events described in this post.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    I was born and raised in the Salt Lake City area in 1980. My mother and father just moved there from Clarksburg, WV right before I was born because my father received a terrific job offer. My mother is white and my father is black. Growing up in SLC was different and difficult for me. Finding my identity and who I am has been a long journey. Friends and neighbors on the block would be reluctant or hesitant to talk to us because we were different than other families. Not to forget, we are also not of the LDS (Mormon) faith either. I did not have many friends in school; I am not entirely sure if it was because I am half black or non-LDS. Could have been either. Friends argued with me constantly about my race; being black or not. They never believed me, even if they were the ones who asked. I was darker than my classmates and with darker features. I had to "prove" that I was half African-American. When the religious discussions came up, I always got the "if you believe in God, then you are Mormon." I stood my ground because I knew that not to be true. And also, at the time, the teaching curriculum was to also learn about how Utah was formed and which included Mormon history. My encounter with racism may not have been as extreme as it was for my father as he was growing older or my mother and father when they were married or others that have submitted their stories here as well. But, because of it, I believe, to this day, I have a hard time finding myself. Embracing myself, even down to a faith. I am insecure about my current faith when it comes up in conversation, because in Texas, I have been discriminated against about my religion many times, including at my employers! I am different and will never just be "different", I will always be an "outcast." It is hard to not label myself as one and still hold my head up high. I am glad I have a mother and father who have always taught me to be proud of my background because it is who I am today. Who would have known that at 33 years old, I am still trying to find my identity and be proud of it?
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