Santa Monica, CA
I grew up in Texas in a small town where the population is roughly half Mexican and half white (German, Polish, Irish, etc.). I myself am half Mexican and half Irish. Funny enough, a lot of my friends are also bi-racial. When I moved away from Texas, I was shocked by how many people thought I was white and never even considered that I was Mexican. I am curvy, dark brown thick hair, dark eyes but very light skinned.
So when I would correct people, they would usually reply with “You don’t act Latino.. You act white.” This puzzled me because I never knew you could act a certain race. Aren’t we all different? I am not the stereotype of a Latina girl who gets pregnant early, has an accent, has a lot of sass (although I have to admit, I am a bit sassy), and wears overly tacky clothing. But funny.. I know a lot of Latino girls who aren’t like that easier. I find it completely rude and ignorant because what people are REALLY saying is that you sound educated. It’s the same for someone is told they aren’t “black” enough. To say that only white people can sound articulate is unfair.
Another thing I always get is that I am not Mexican enough because I don’t speak Spanish very well. Yes, I am ashamed to say that my Spanish has never been good. My mother never spoke to me in Spanish and none of my family speaks Spanish to each other on a regular basis… It has only been now in my 20s that I have made more of an effort to learn Spanish so that I can practice with my grandmother. The funny thing people don’t seem to know is that just because you are Mexican, doesn’t mean that you’re family just crossed the border a generation ago. My family was actually living in what is now known as Texas for generations (4 generations that I can count including my Native American grandmother). So sadly, as generations go on, some things are lost. My hope is that I can learn Spanish and hopefully pass it down to my children so it’s not completely forgotten. But also important is letting people know that just because you may not fit a stereotype, doesn’t mean you aren’t who you are. I can never change the fact that I am Mexican and Irish and I never would. I act how I act because I am who I am. Would you ever chastise a person who was say for example German-American but doesn’t speak German? No, most people wouldn’t. Their excuse is that their family came to America generations ago.. so why is it not the same for minorities? America is a melting pot.. and it’s wonderful to see people of all combinations come together!
I want to know how other people see this “acting your race” idea? Agree, disagree.. what has your experience been?