Danielle Fernandez, Trumbull, CT. I’m Indian, but born in Zimbabwe. I always greet the question of “what is your background?” with a little sigh, and then gear up for the long explanation. Thankfully, in my area, the response is usually “that’s cool.”
T.W., Baltimore, MD. I am White, non-Hispanic, but I go to Mexico on a regular basis so I have worked really hard to speak decent Spanish. I’m not fluent, but I can get around, and I have a believable accent. So back in the U.S., there are times when knowing Spanish comes in handy. I […]
Cherilyn Cole, Burlingame, CA. I often look back at the lessons I learned while growing up in Mexican-dominated communities. I was never “brown” enough, even though my mother is Mexican, Portuguese and Spanish. My father, who is ironically darker skinned than my mother, is of wide variety of white European races. I always wished to […]
Sandra Aguilar-Rodríguez, Bethlehem, PA. I am Mexican, I speak English, French and Spanish. I have a PhD in History, but still I find it difficult to understand why in the United States being bilingual or trilingual is not appreciated. I want my children to speak, read and write at least in another language, and if […]
Cassandra Coats, El Cajon, CA. I grew up in a very multi-cultural school where being white was the minority. I was never teased for it, but I felt like I was missing out. I spent most of my childhood wishing I could be Asian, or Native American, or speak Spanish, etc. Sure, I have red […]
Lisa Page Rosenberg, South Pasadena, CA. Mexican-Spanish-Apache-Basque-Irish-Swedish American
Angelina A., Allentown, PA. I myself always get asked about questions about my racial and ethnic background and it never has bothered me. I usually always say I am half Dominican and half Chilean, then I go on to explaining that my dad is from Chile and my mom is from The Dominican Republic. Although […]
Gabriella Ortega, Riverside, CA. I live in a world where my own kind thinks I’m a shame because I’m Mexican and don’t know Spanish. They think of me as a white girl but white people take one look at me and assume I know Spanish because I’m Mexican. Sometimes I begin to question myself along […]
Bea Melnarowicz, Chicago, IL My daughter is bi-racial: her father is Spanish-French-Mexican, and I am Eastern European Caucasian. I am often told she looks ‘nothing’ like me, even jokingly by some of my friends. I am surprised each time I hear this considering the age and time we live in. The tone is rarely friendly, […]
Sean Patrick Nicholl, Storrs, CT. Heard it plenty of times… I mention that my first name is after my grandfathers; John… y Juan. That stops them for a second. John, Juan, and Sean are all the same name in various languages. A great grandfather of mine adds Jean to the list. They think I’m joking. […]
Raysa Rivera, Worcester, MA. I have struggled with my inability to fit in within the Hispanic culture. I cannot speak the language without having trouble with grammar and sounding like a “white girl.” I’ve gotten mocked because of it all the time. My family has also decided to leave some of the cultural traditions back […]
Delilah Mulgannon, New York, NY. All my life, I’ve been told that I’m not “really” Latina because I don’t speak Spanish fluently (which is ridiculous). Who are you to tell me who I am and who I’m not? I grew up in a mixed household (Ecuadorian mother and Polish father) where Spanish was not spoken […]
Rebeca Cruz-Esteves, Philadelphia, PA. I was born in Puerto Rico and raised in both the U.S. Although my first language is Spanish it’s hard to tell since I have no accent. Growing up it was hard to immediately blend in as I spent my childhood in a predominantly Caucasian neighborhood. As a teenager my family […]
Yesenia Chavez, Houston, TX. I’m a first generation Mexican- American, born and raised in Houston, Texas. Sometimes it feels like I’m too in between both identities to really feel like I’m either. My Spanish isn’t perfect and sometimes I forget words in English.
Eric D., Houston, TX. While my son was in elementary school, I asked what race dose he tells his schoolmates he was. He quickly responded, “White”. When I asked why, he said that his skin color wasn’t brown or black. As he grew older he learned about both his Spanish and African American heritage. Now […]
Catherine Kehl, Cleveland Heights, OH. When we divide ourselves into “us” and “other” we don’t only lose the other, we lose ourselves. I was twenty-seven before I realized that my mother sometimes spoke to me in Spanish not because she’d picked some up in college before travelling in South America in her twenties, but because […]
Veronica, Woodland, CA. Don’t look down on me because I don’t speak Spanish. I would love to learn but you shaming me makes me nervous to even try, should I make a mistake. You think I spit on “my language”? Well, you spit on me, your Mexican sister.
Suzette Chaumette, San Leandro, CA. We speak of ourselves as a Caribbean family. We teach our girls about the significance of the drum, Haitian Revolution, Toussaint Louverture, Alexandre Petion, Hatuey, Anacaona, Jose Marti, and more. We love celebrating our respective cultures, which are unique, but also our similar backgrounds as Taino, Arawak, African, French and […]
Ed Houlemarde, Duarte, CA. I am what is considered a Creole – depending on wher I am I can be lumped into that areas primary race. In school I did not belong to a “race” Because my skin is olive I had mostly minority friends or friends of color. Teaches and later co-workers thought I […]
Judee Fernandez, Los Angeles, CA. I am a white looking Mexican woman born in Los Angeles to immigrant parents who are brown and proud. Yet all my life, I’ve been asked questions about beauty and my look, more than anyone has asked me about what I know and my experiences. The other day, I went […]
Manuela Bernardez Kuchta, Pittsbugh, PA. It can be very frustrating at times explaining myself or a good teaching experience depending on who’s questioning me.
Jesse Hernandez-Oliver, Modesto, CA. I’m Mexican, African and Native American (Apache and Cherokee soecifically) with ringlet curled hair that resembles finger waves of the 1920s when brushed. Growing up I remember everyone always asking to touch my hair. I can speak some Spanish too so that also through people off,which I always found to be […]
Ryan Gonzales, Vacaville, CA. Everyone looks at my last name and think that I am Mexican because my last name is Gonzales. My family came from Spain not Mexico.
Ivan Vazquez, Sacramento, CA. Although I was born and raised in San Diego, CA ; I grew up in a household that comprised of both the English and Spanish language, about 60% English and 40% Spanish. I am a child of second-generation immigrants and even though I received my entire education in English, I came […]
Elizabeth Swenson, Hacienda Heights, CA. I went to school in NC were it was predominately black & white in2006. My husband and the majority of my friends are Hispanic or Spanish descent. I never really though racism exist coming from LA, CA were its divers. But here I saw people say nasty things, dirty looks, […]
Nicole Reynolds, Virginia Beach, VA. Race often goes hand and hand with self worth. Who am I in the world? What does that answer mean? How does it affect my life? Is there anything I can do to change that? I have Ugandan Blood, Taino Blood, Spanish Blood, Past African American Slave blood. What race […]
Denise Noboa, Norfolk, VA.
Yessica Guarin Arias, Boston, MA. Yes, I don’t have the same accent as the actors and actresses on TV. The reason to why is because they were born in a specific part of the country in which I am not from. However, people only hear these people speaking “Colombian Spanish”. When in reality Colombia has […]
James Estanislao Herr, Los Angeles, CA. Dad’s side came over in 1717–Swiss-German and Irish with some Danish and Greek thrown in. Mom came over in 1954. Filipino, Spanish and Chinese with I guess some Portuguese somewhere along the way given my middle name. Grew up in an all white community outside Philadelphia. Not sure who […]
Jesus Castro Menifee, CA California Baptist University CBU HIS311 I was born in Mexico and am the first person in my family to have a career with retirement benefits. Proud to be in this country and served in the Military. I now have a family and I am teaching my 2 year old son the […]
Cynthia Deras GA Are you hispanic? Why dont you speak spanish? What part of Mexico are your parents from? Say something in Spanish! Your not really Mexican if you dont speak spanish. Basically thats the reaction I get from the latino community when someone finds out I dont speak Spanish. I lost Spanish as a […]
Irmie S. Bristol, CT I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Both of my parents were from Puerto Rico but were of Spanish ancestry, which caused my fair, freckle-prone skin. I looked so different from so many of my caramel-skinned classmates. So, in Junior High School, when one Puerto Rican boy began teasing all […]
Adriana Pedroza Both of my parents were born and raised in Mexico. Looking at my family pictures, I’m the odd one out. As a child, I was blonde, and my eyes have always been on the lighter side. My skin is not dark. I don’t have my mom’s dark hair or my dad’s dark eyes […]
Leslie Brooklyn, NY From the southwest. Speak English and Spanish.
Sabrina Vargas Albuquerque, NM Being Spanish I have light skin. Many people in Spain have blue eyes, green eyes, red hair. Just because I have red hair, and lighter skin than most Hispanics doesn’t mean I’m white.
Mariel Oak Hill, VA Most people assume that just because I speak Spanish i’m Mexican or Spanish–no, I’m Peruvian.
Anna Council Bluffs, IA My dad has a thick accent and looks very Mexican, but can’t speak Spanish. I look and pass as white, but I can speak Spanish.
Tricia Redlands, CA I am a Mexican American that grew up in a home that did not speak Spanish. Both my mother and father were Mexican Americans born in California and their parents didn’t speak Spanish in the home as well. One time I asked my grandfather why he didn’t teach his children Spanish. His […]
Mary Spain I’m married to a dark haired dark eyed white skinned Spanish speaking man of pure European descent. He is Spanish. We live in Spain! When many of my American friends comment on our biracial marriage or our children being mixed I want to correct them but feel that by doing so i’ll come […]
JS CA Brought up to believe my Mexican heritage was secondary to my white heritage. Didn’t learn Spanish, didn’t learn culture. As a young woman I identify with being Mexican only when I am allowed to. For example, on a jury questionnaire, I check “white” because I fear I don’t have “enough” Mexican ancestry to […]
Delia Moreno Valley, CA I am so tired of others expecting me to know every bit of Spanish, simply because I am Mexican. It is assumed that just because one is of the Mexican heritage they should know the Spanish language fluently. I do know a little bit of Spanish to kind of get me […]
Elena Rodrigues Houghton, MA Living in a small town in the UP of Michigan and having a fairly Hispanic name can sometimes bring out the worst in people. Sometimes it shows how some people view a person from a different background in a negative way and other times it can be positive. I have been […]
Andrea Fabiola Vazquez Ridgefield, CT I grew up in Ohio, but both of my parents are from Mexico. I speak Spanish, most of my extended family lives in Mexico, and I identify very much as a Mexican American. Still, when people ask me where my family is from—and people as me this a lot—they are […]
Miriam C. Vargas Puerto Rico
Juan De Rada Los Angeles, CA There are 20 other countries that speak Spanish, just saying.
Aitor Hurtada Spokane, WA
Gabrielle Guzman San Diego, CA Yes, I am Mexican. Yes, I know I apparently hold the same facial features as someone who would be considered Asian. No, I did not just cross the border. No, I do not speak Spanish, although I can understand it fluently and am taking classes to learn it. I am […]
Rory Santaloci Brooklyn, NY
Ana Seattle, WA We lived in a very small homogeneous town, and my parents had just gotten divorced. My father was the Spanish speaker and became mostly absent. My grandmother was trying to help me keep up with my second language, and I thought to myself it did not matter because American girls do not […]
Victor Santana-Melgoza El Paso, TX For most of my life I have been rejected by many people in the Hispanic/Chican@/Latin@ community for not learning and practicing Spanish (as well as not following other cultural cues). I was raised in a household where English was the main language spoken. I am 4th generation American, raised by […]
Diama Gabriel Miami, FL I’m in between waters. I’m not African American for the black Americans, and I’m not a Latina for the Latino community. I’m a proud black Puertorrican woman who moved to USA 13 years ago. Upon my arrival to the States, I lived in a mainly African American community in Miami but […]
Kashi Gomez Oakland, CA I just applied to PhD programs. The private Universities gave me fellowships for diversity, the public one did not. I am half Cuban (2nd generation) and half Russian-Jewish (3rd generation). I still check the box that says I am Hispanic but I am lost somewhere in-between. I come from an economically […]
Elizabeth Norris Taylor Fernandina Beach, FL I have lived my entire life with people coming up to me and asking, “what are you?” For a while in college, I had some very clever comebacks… now days I simply shrug and say, “American, and you?” I have had people come up to me and speak Spanish […]
Krislyn Real Beaverton, OR When I was younger race was something to be proud of. I grew up in central California where the Latin-American population is rather high. I was surrounded by my culture. I loved the man who would drive down the street and stop to sell you conchas and tamales – the strawberry […]
Nidia Rivera, Hyattsville, MD. “NO I don’t understand English”, is a common phrase that I am used to hear almost everyday when I moved to this country, U.S. It hurt when people who know English say to you that your English is terrible. However, as they said that, they encourage me to learn English, they […]
Isaiah Santiago Philadelphia, PA My names Isaiah Santiago and I am Puerto Rican. Being Puerto Rican and being different is always something that I’ve dealt with in my life. I’ve always been called things like gringo(white boy) or just a fake Puerto Rican. All of this comes back to me not speaking Spanish. Everyone always […]
Valerie Grajeda Rountree, San Jose, CA. I grew up not speaking Spanish in a very Mexican neighborhood. My mother sent me to schools out of my area to prevent me getting involved with the local gang population. I grew up with other nationalities and met my future husband in high school. He is white. Our […]
Daniela Miami, FL And yes, it is possible for me not to like baseball and be Latina at the same time!
Justine Knudson Boise, ID I don’t come from a family of great social status, but as a white, native English speaker in the United States, I was born with a certain degree of power. My privilege comes from my race and native language. People in power must take action in order for social change to […]
Daniel A. Ramos Columbus, OH The story ran about Alisha on 5/23/13 really struck accord with me. I was born in Ohio to a family that still held a very strong Puerto Rican identity in a very large Puerto Rican community west of Cleveland. When I was young I didn’t know the difference between my […]
Elysha O’Brien, Las Vegas, NV. Whites see me as Mexican, Mexicans view me as White because I don’t speak Spanish. I find it interesting that we don’t qualify other ethnic identities on the basis of language. Featured on NPR’s Morning Edition Segment: Living in Two Worlds but with Just One Language http://www.npr.org/2013/05/23/185839159/living-in-two-worlds-but-with-just-one-language
Carina Tillan Hallandale, FL My rebuttal to that is usually “Then what am I supposed to look like?” You’d be surprised how often people realize they don’t have (or don’t want to give) an answer to that. And heaven forbid they learn I speak Spanish, almost as if it’s a greater accomplishment for me because […]
Allen Nunez Wickham, Molalla, OR. I remember being asked by my mom at 5 years old if I wanted to learn Spanish., and replying that I didn’t want to. Only later did I realize later that people actually grew up speaking Spanish and English, and my dad’s inability to speak Spanish has greatly impacted my […]
Gracie Fleming Austin, TX My mother gave me an incredible prayer life, encouraged my intellectual development, and validated my intuition. But time and again I watched others respond to her dark skin and Spanish accent as if she were less than white people. I am mixed ethnicity and keenly aware that my father was not […]
Claudia Delatorre Louisville, KY So much too say. I am Hispanic, white and grew up middle class. I have had Hispanics say I am not Hispanic enough because of the way I look and because I did not grow up in a ‘bario. I have gone shopping with my mother and spoken Spanish; store associates […]
Manuel J Bascuas Miami, FL In school, many years ago, I was taught that they were four: white, black, yellow and red. According to some government forms, now we have Spanish, Latinos, Asians, etc. They confused country of origin and/or cultural background with race. Under our skins we are all the same.
Tony Bueno Submitted via Twitter: @tonybueno10
Anna Lemos Redlands, CA These words were spoken to me by an educator when he learned I was bilingual – I spoke English and Spanish. In his mind my English should have been heavily accented and broken.