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 […]
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 […]
Yema Pizzuto, MD. Have you ever been told, “Really? But you don’t look…” Or “Oh yeah, I see how you’re…because you look…” Or the ‘Ol time favorite, “I’m sorry, I thought you spoke Spanish.” Yeah, not every mixed person is of Spanish decent. About the word “mixed”, it doesn’t imply that I’m just black and […]
Alexandra Garcia, Long Island, NY. My father emigrated from Spain in 1974, and we have been raised to be proud of our Spanish heritage and culture. In school, whenever I told people I was Spanish, they assumed I meant Mexican or Colombian or Puerto Rican. I’ve always been annoyed by that, because no one knows […]
Blanca Soto, Hemet, CA. I grew up in a community that was composed of mostly white people. Every time someone would ask my name they would go on to say doesn’t that mean white? Yes! I would reply. Mostly likely laughs would follow and the oh so unique question of “why would your parents name […]
John Chaney, Silver Spring, MD. Being a white male growing up in predominantly black and spanish schools and neighborhoods all you ever hear is hate on white males, never called men always called white boy. Constantly belittled and disrespected for no reason at all other than the events of the past before any of us […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
Cara, UT. I have been having debates with my husband for a long time. We have spoken about how there is trained racism and acknowledge white privilege to a point. There are still one points that do not make total sense to us but we are tired. We have best friends who are of other […]
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 […]
Marie Recine, Mountain View, CA. When I’m with Latinos, people think I’m Mexican. When I’m with whites, people think I’m white or mixed. When I’m alone people have no idea. When I carry an Korean baby, people look down their noses. I’ve been by people that my English is “actually pretty good.” I’ve been told […]
Maria (Victoria) Lopez, Moreno Valley, CA. I am a student at Cal Baptist University and am in the class History of Minorities. My professor had us look into this web site for an assignment but to talk about our own race card. My race topic is, “No, sorry I don’t speak Spanish” This has been […]
Kristy, San Luis, AZ. The older I get the less fun it is for me to go places. Constantly getting judged for being Hispanic and worst of all assuming of what I can and cannot do, getting spoken in Spanish by non-Spanish speaking people is what’s worse. Why assume that I cannot speak English? Give […]
Marlo Torres, Riverside, CA. I am Puerto Rican and I have always grown up with the question of; You’re Hispanic, why don’t you speak Spanish? At first it was always something that I just laughed off and my usual response was I don’t know or my parents never taught me. As I grew older and […]
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 […]
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 […]
Sydney Arenas, Denver, CO. When I was growing up, the kids around me were punished for speaking Spanish in the classroom because the teachers assumed they were saying mean things about the other kids.
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 […]
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.
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
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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 […]
Angelyce Serrano, Coram, NY. My whole life people has seen me as “that black girl”. That is not the case. I am Puerto Rican, Black-American, Taino, and Spaniard. Yet, for whatever reason my whole cultural background is ignored and I am just labeled as black. Going to Catholic School from 4years old to 18years old […]
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 […]
Kristiane Valenza, Vicksburg, MS. After moving to rural Mississippi from New York to teach Spanish at the high school level, I’m frequently met with confusion as to how I have an “ethnic” name and can teach Spanish, but I have fair skin and European features. When people ask me, “Are you from Vicksburg?” they really […]
Ricky Quezada, Sanger, CA. I don’t really embrace beng Mexican. I don’t speak Spanish. English is my only Language, but my father was born in Mexico so I know I am Mexican, but he was raised in America so Mexican traditions aren’t really pushed upon me and my family. We are more American than anything, […]
Chloe Servin, Miami, FL. I’ve gotten that phrase countless times. Pupils, teachers, when I meet new people. I currently am pale with slight color, but when I was younger I’d go outside every day and I was active, so I had a much darker color, plus I’d also go to the pool almost daily. One […]
Alyssa Ortega, Fresno, CA. I was born into a Mexican family, with parents who were BOTH born outside of marriage as a result of infidelity. They are both still Mexican, but much lighter than the rest of their families (They are also BOTH part Spaniard) and were not taught Spanish unfortunately due to circumstance. I […]
Jennnifer, Fresno, CA. No matter where I am, people will come up to me and start speaking Spanish. I assume it’s because they assume that im fully Mexican. but little do many know, I’m mayority Native American with a small amount of Hispanic in me. Because people asssume that I’m Mexican, they assume my first […]
Michele Warch, Georgetown, DE. My mom is English and Native American. My dad is Scotch-Irish and German. I speak Cherokee and read some Gaelic. I have dark hair and green eyes. Its a gift of my mixed ancestry. I have tattoos and ride a motorcycle. I also have a master’s degree and teach at the […]
Lora McManus, Altadena, CA. Being transracially adopted (by Caucasian parents) comes with a plethora of advantages and challenges. One of the most common misconceptions that I face on a daily basis is the assumption that I was raised in an Chinese family and speak Mandarin, when actually neither of those are true. Stereotypes are one […]
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 […]
Cynthia Deras, GA. Are you hispanic? Why don’t 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 […]
Max Lazzara, Minneapolis, MN. Bilingual when I learned to talk, raised among my father’s Floridian family of Spaniards, Italians, and Cubans, I was just as Hispanic as I was white; but moved by divorce, I joined my mother’s German-Polish Minnesotan family. The message quickly became clear: don’t speak Spanish to white relatives. In a fully […]
Keatan Oliva, McAllen, TX. Growing up near the boarder of Mexico, where I would often cross with my mother to have lunch on weekends, it seemed expected of me to know Spanish fluently. Although I was raised in a town named Rancho Viejo, which might even be considered nearer to Mexico and its culture than […]
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 […]
Laura Pierson, Los Angeles, CA. I am Native American, Mexican, Spanish, English, Germany, and Irish. I was raised by a single mom that is Native American, English, German, and Irish. I didn’t know what being a Mexican meant or was like and I’m still trying to figure it out. As a child, I told people […]
Ashlee Johnston, Ladera Ranch, CA. People tell me they thought that I am White but once I tell them about my Asian/Hawaiian/Spanish/Canadian…. background they say they can tell. I am proud to be so many things from all over the world.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
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.
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 […]
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.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.