My skin is white, but half my blood is Latina.
The lack of knowing and speaking the language makes me “less” of a Latina. The lack of complete knowledge and embrace of my culture makes me “less” of a Latina. My skin, my voice, my style, makes me “less” of a Latina.
Society sometimes forgets that I am half Puerto Rican because I am not “Latina” enough, and because of that, people tend to classify me as being the part of the group of white people who are internally racist and arrogant without even knowing it because of their whiteness. You know, those “reverse racism exists, all lives matter, I don’t see color, I see humans” type of whiteness?
That part of whiteness is whiteness that I even I say white people are stupid as hell.
I will admit that because I am half white, I do have “white privilege” embedded in me. I’ve had friends in the past, of different ethnicity and race, in light of the Trayvon Martin case, tell me they feel safer around me because “they wouldn’t be suspicious and shoot down and kill a white girl.”
It saddens me to think that the beautifully diverse people I call my friends are targets in today’s society, but people will assume I don’t think like that because to the outside world, I am just “white.”
I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and over the 23 years I’ve been living, my family and I have only moved from two different neighborhoods in Brooklyn. My earliest memories are of me living in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn; where although most of my sister and I’s friends were of all different cultures and backgrounds, the neighborhood was always predominantly Italian. White.
It was always declared a good family neighborhood with no bad reputation because “white people lived there.”
When I was 6, my family and I moved to Sunset Park, Brooklyn; a place where a lot of diversity lived throughout the avenues that were considered Sunset Park. The lower number avenues consist of a variation of Hispanic and Latinos (yes, there’s a difference between the two); there were Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and predominantly Mexicans. The higher number avenues consist of mostly Asians, and once Sunset Park ended, Borough Park begins, which consists of mostly Jewish families. As I was growing up in Sunset Park, my friends were even more diverse in culture and color. I always went to public schools that had a dominant ethnicity that was different than my own; in the elementary schools I attended there were mostly Jewish and Chinese children, in middle school it was a mixture of both Chinese and Hispanic, and in high school it was a predominantly Black school.
It wasn’t until college when I started to see other people who were like me in a way; “white.” But even then, I wasn’t. I spent most of my years in urban neighborhoods, picking up NYC slang and traveling on trains and buses all around the borough. I go to Staten Island and see people who have their parents drive them around the island, and “occasionally” ride the bus to the mall or some shit.
Sometimes, Staten Islanders really piss me off because the ones who live in good neighborhoods on there are usually the ones who are oblivious to everything. Like, no shade, I get that you may have problems, I mean everyone does, but your problems aren’t as life-threatening as the ones who are being targeted or racially profiled because their race is negatively viewed.
I’m sorry, but until the day you feel like you can’t walk outside by yourself without looking behind your shoulder every five minutes because you fear for your life, then you are not allowed to compare your problems with minorities.
Anyway, this stereotype of “suburban, middle-class white kid” has somewhat always been assumed of me because of my personality and style being “a typical white girl.”
I’ve never lived in suburbia, I grew up (and still living) in a low-income family where I am the only college grad in it, and I’m half white.
But does the other half really matter to society?
Latinos already have this stereotype of them; they have to dress like a cholo/a, they have to speak Spanish, they have to act least know something about a dominant-Spanish sport like soccer or baseball, and they have to look like it.
Oh, and the most racist one of them all; “you/your parents/your grandparents have to be immigrants of a Spanish speaking country.” (My grandfather and late grandmother from my father’s side were born in Puerto Rico, but because of it being a commonwealth, they were technically born as American citizens.) In a case like this, people really think you aren’t Hispanic enough when you’re Puerto Rican because it’s “tied to the United States still.”
Listen, I am not going to apologize for being a “half-Rican” or a “fake-Rican” or whatever the term is. I am also not going to use my “minority” side as a way to deny my white privilege.
But it does leave me in this slit when there is controversy within society regarding race, I am granted either this “free pass” for being “half-minority”, or this stamp declaring me “a typical white woman”.
It’s one of the reasons why I’m very limited in my thoughts when these things happen. I’m rarely ever taken seriously because people always have this belief that some white people don’t actually agree with the fact that most white people are racist and arrogant as fuck.
Half of me will never understand the struggles most people who are pure breeds of a minority and race face day-to-day. I will never understand how it feels to fear for my life, to not trust police while walking the street, to have family who can’t come to the United States because what they are is labeled “terrorist” or “illegal aliens/immigrants.” I, in no means, will never feel the way most minorities do because on the outside, I am white. My skin color is white. My “identity” (regarding diction, education, style, and interests), is gravitated more towards white.
But half of me has family who have been wrongfully arrested at least once in their life for being suspicious just because they are Latino. Half of me understands that most Spanish native people who want to come to the United States for better jobs and opportunities can’t now because of how our President proceeds immigrants. Half of me understands the negative reputation Hispanics get because I’ve been called some of these things at least once in my life, especially when I was younger. Half of me identifies as a Puerto Rican because it’s in my blood, family features, family culture and taste; because it’s in my ENTIRE FUCKING NAME. Best to believe anyone who looks at my name in a resume will see my name and automatically assume I am Hispanic, which yes; it can hinder job opportunities because of it.
At the end of the day, I stand up for what’s right. My whiteness does not make me think that I am superior to everyone, but my Latinaness does not make me think I personally know how it feels to be targeted.
Being a “White-Hispanic” will always leave me in this spot of instability. I don’t feel like I would ever belong in a place where I can be a part of two different communities and feel two contrasting things about them.
How about the fact that if I ever had children, they will be placed in the same predicament where they are half black, and half white? Will their whiteness even matter if their skin-color automatically identifies them as black?
It’s scary to be caught in the middle, but like I said, I believe in what’s right, whether it affects me or not. I will never use my whiteness as this shield to guard off every other person’s struggles because I can’t identify with it.
Honestly white people, you fight for “all lives matter” and “there’s no race but the human race”, then you should be able to see the oppression minorities have in these different communities: where Black/Latino/Muslim/Asian are the minorities in a whitewashed world, where being LGBTQ+ are the minorities in a heterosexual world, where women are the minorities in a man’s world, and where working-class is a minority in a middle-class world. YOU BELIEVE IN UNITY WITHIN HUMANS, THEN START REALIZING THAT “ALL HUMANS” ARE NOT TREATED THE SAME.
Dear White People, Once you acknowledge your privilege, use it to help others.
But I digress.
Anyway, back on the topic of being a White-Hispanic, I’m going to conclude this quite political post with an excerpt from an article by Carmen Rios entitled “5 Things I’m Tired of Hearing as a Mixed-Race Latina“. In a nutshell, she concludes with this:
Please don’t ever tell me I don’t look Latina.
When I was younger, I wanted more than anything not to look like me. I wanted a different body. I wanted hair that was silky and long and straight. I wanted a voice that was a little less loud.
I didn’t know then that all bodies were beautiful, especially non-white ones. And I didn’t realize that, in being Latina, I was part of a rich, varied body of beautiful human beings who look as different as can be. I didn’t come of age with an understanding that our differences are what made us who we are.
Instead, I grew up being told by our society – and sometimes even the people close to me – that I should be ashamed of my racial identity. And that means I grew up chasing the ideal beauty standards put forward by our white supremacist, patriarchal culture.
But I was a mixed-race Latina girl. I was never going to fit into our culture’s narrow expectations for women, and coming to terms with my racial identity liberated me from feeling like I had to.
When you tell me I don’t look Latina, you tell me I don’t look like myself.