as a multiracial poc, whose identities are visually ambiguous and therefore often hard to immediately categorize, navigating race is a daily occurrence.  i often deal with invasive questions and sometimes harmful interactions around my identities. strangers grilling me about what i am or where i’m from.  

the fact is we live in a society that is obsessed with categorization, especially visual categorization. it’s an innate part of programming to remember what something looks like and determine if it is safe or not.  think of animals recognizing prey or predators.  but multiracial folx have been around for a longtime and sadly much of our society is still based around this primitive need to categorize people. 

when i began really unpacking my multi-identities, i searched for ways to connect to my culture, ethnicity, and heritage that wasn’t dependent upon how i looked, but rather who i am at my core. i asked the question, what are the ways i can connect to my roots while honoring the fluidity of all my identities?

it was around this time that i found the filipino term, kapwa.  kapwa is interconnectedness. it is seeing one’s self in others and others in one’s self.  it is a shared identity that goes beyond class, access, ability, race, sexuality, language, etc.  it is a reflection of the truest self, that we belong to each other and to the earth.  

    #21 in the major arcana – the world card aptly renamed kapwa from the kapwa tarot deck by JL Umipig

    for multi-identity folx, the idea of kapwa reminds us that our existence is not centered in visual identification and how categorizable we are.

    kapwa says that we are more than the labels. more than how we identify.  we are of each other.  kapwa invites questions and reflections, and holds space for complexity. kapwa does not demand that we be placed in boxes that are defined.

    kapwa recognizes that we are infinitely connected and that we should move through this world in full awareness of that interconnectedness. 

    instead we are defined by the fact that we exist and in that existence we are inherently worthy. no other labels are necessary. 

    kapwa asks us to imagine a world where we have become so evolved that we no longer depend on  categories and labels as the primary ways that we define ourselves.  we find alternative ways to express ourselves.  not based on antiquated systems of race and categorization that were used to subjugate and oppress peoples.  instead we are defined by that we exist and in that existence  we are inherently worthy. no other labels are necessary.