Don’t Worry, we’re not so different

photo-3Epifanio Rios,
Philadelphia, PA.

My name is Epifanio, I am a fourteen year boy who attends the high school SLA. I probably know as much about race as the next guy but I think race is perceived differently by everyone. To me I think race can’t only be defined through your skin tone but were your ancestors, culture, history, ethnic group is originally from. But it is up to you to identify with certain or different races.

I am a puerto rican male whose family is originally from Puerto Rico. So I would identify myself as a Latino or Hispanic. The thing with that is that neither of those things are considered races, both are ethnicities according to the US government. So the races I would have to identify the most with are white, black, and native since most and almost all latinos have ancestry that fall into these racial groups. I never associate myself with any of these races. But if I had to chose I would identify as white and black do to ancestry in these racial groups, but more with white since I have more ancestry that leads back to Spain meaning Europe signifying that I am part or mostly white.

Many people have perceived my racial identity incorrectly. Many times when someone tries to identify what I am they guess either Pacific Islander, Asian, Mexican, or somewhere around Pakistan. None of these are correct. So when I tell these people that they are wrong they usually respond with shock and with the sentence “Oh I thought you looked like….” or “You really look like….”

I think race is something that always has been used to separate people from each other. Even nowadays when race has become something illegal to use to undermine a person or group, people still use other aspects to undermine and separate a person or group but are still using race in a way that doesn’t seem like being racist. Some of the aspects could be where and how you live, how stable you are financially, whether you look like someone who would commit a crime, and even how educated you are. These things are kind of used to separate races without blatantly using skin color or race to do so. For people trying to identify a person’s racial identity certain races are used as a stereotypical template for what a person’s race most likely is or the race the person identifies with. Usually a person who is thinking about another person’s race they start off by thinking about what the most stereotypical or average person looks like in all of the racial groups. If the person doesn’t look like their first general thoughts then they begin to get more specific in looks until they find the group that is most likely correct match.

There have been times where my racial identity has gained a meaning and significance in a situation. A time where my own racial identity has taking meaning was for participating in a parade for people of the same racial identity. Another time it has taken meaning was when I joined a group to support others of the same racial identity. But everyday my racial identity takes up a special meaning. The meaning I it takes up is that I am proud to be part of that group because I am able to eliminate stereotypes about the typical latino by being who I am which is entirely different from the typical latino.

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