Not wanting to deny my roots

Laura,
Red bank, NJ.

Let me just start by saying that racial forms are the death of me. I keep clicking back and forth between non Hispanic white and Latin American. Here’s the thing. My mom and her family are from Puerto Rico. The language and culture are very important to her but here is the thing- she doesn’t look Puerto Rican or at least stereotypically Puerto Rican. She has brown straight hair, European features and light skin. And then my dad is white. But here I am. I look white. I have white privilege and I’m certainly not going to deny that. I tell people I am half Puerto Rican and they look at me puzzled and say “really I didn’t know that” or that must be where you get your curls from!” (Even though my hair comes from my European side).

I was raised very removed from the culture. I am currently learning Spanish but I was not taught at an early age. I really wish I knew more about Puerto Rican culture but I simply don’t, I think mainly because I was raised in a white community with a white father. But nevertheless being half Puerto Rican is very important to me and my identity. I want to learn more about my Latin roots but I don’t want to be accused of cultural appropriation. So hear I am caught in a limbo between Puerto Rican and white. It makes me so sad that society keeps telling me I can’t be both.

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