But you don’t look Puerto Rican

For-Le-Connoisseur-3-1Natalia de Cuba Romero.
Massapequa Park, NY.

IN my heart and in my head I have always thought of myself as Puerto Rican, Born in Queens, NY to a Puerto Rican mom and a dad from Aruba and a bilingual home, lived in Puerto Rico for a number of years…but I’ve always looked like a white girl: sadly straight hips, no ass to speak of (at least in the way we think of ass in the Caribbean) light-skinned, green eyes, light brown hair that’s neither curly nor straight…oh! the tragedy! My black friends would urge me to just pass, cause it’s easier, but when you have “la musiquita por dentro”(the music inside), can you? When it is not exactly about race but about ethnicity and culture, what does it mean? Funnily enough, when my son was born, with exactly my white girl coloring, there I’d be, speaking to this nursing baby in Spanish exclusively, and the unbidden question would come up in my head: “How is this little leprechaun ever going to understand you? Look at him! He’s a gringo!” As if our appearance when we are born is our destiny, down to the language we speak. And perhaps it is. So do I wish I were born looking more stereotypically Puerto Rican? Yes, and no. I would have liked to be curvier, sassier. I would have made a career out of my mom’s insanely thick, curly, long dark hair. However, I like being the Stealth bomber of the Latino world. I may not look Puerto Rican, but here I am, watching, spying, learning about what white Americans really think..


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