Hispanic and White? You don’t belong.

Kimberly,
Palmdale, CA

A sheep in a wolf’s skin. Even if you try to run with the wolves, you are still a sheep. I can relate to this imagery because even though I was raised by a Guatemalan father and a white mother I am not accepted by my family. I am too white to be Guatemalan. In my family’s eyes I am just a defected person; a failure of a Guatemalan young woman.

I was looking for answers about why I can never be accepted or valued by my family and the community that I love so dearly. My mother is White (raised by a Mexican family in California) and my father is Guatemalan (raised in Guatemala). The only family I have been blessed enough to spend time with is my father’s Guatemalan side.

My mother was already learning how to cope with painful hatred from her husband’s family for being white. Her three beautiful Guatemalan daughters were unlucky enough to be born and raised half white.

I experienced subtle racism as a child, so I grew up having deep feelings of being different, outcasted, or defective. “You don’t even look Guatemalan, your skin is so white.” “Aww, you look just like your Tia’s in Guatemala except your white…” “You don’t understand Spanish!? Get out. You don’t belong in this Spanish Church.” “You know what this is? I thought you only ate white-people food.” “You’re white. You’re not even Guatemalan.”
Because there was a clear language barrier, it was difficult to be hated because of never being consistently taught Spanish at home.

My mother was raised by a Mexican family who took her in as their own when she was a young child. She speaks fluent Spanish to this day. I spoke Spanish when I was very young, but as elementary school started, the Spanish speaking ended. My parents were kind and had modern views of life. I suppose that is why they never pushed me to keep speaking Spanish even though it would have been beneficial to my life.

In school, I could never fit in with the pretty white girls because my household was very different from theirs, so it was hard to relate with them. I was very strictly outcasted by Hispanic kids throughout elementary and middle school because of our language barrier and also because I only had one Hispanic parent. Believe it or not, kids making friends in school are pretty much segregated by ethnicity and social class. My family was well off because my father was a very hard worker. But their strict Christian rules that made me feel guilty about buying good quality items, lack of wisdom, and so-called humble “I’m a poor kid mentality” prevented me from flourishing in that well-off household environment. Anyhow, making friends was not easy and actually never happened more than twice. Both were very educated pretty white girls, and neither of them was stuck up enough to deny friendship with a lost child like me.

With that aside, all throughout high school, I was just a clown for Hispanics to laugh at. My family and the Hispanic community made my existence invalid because I was not truly Guatemalan. I had pride in who I was until my pride was beaten down with a stern awakening that I am not Guatemalan, and I am not White. I was nothing; just like an abandoned child, I wanted to identify with anything that my heart would cling to. I knew this emptiness inside can only be filled with true, precious heritage. But I would never inherit that because there is no room for white and Guatemalans. There was only room for one or the other and it was never my choice to make.

I am now struggling with my identity. Wondering if I am supposed to apologize for being white. If I should try much harder to be more Guatemalan, or if I should try to blend in with other white people. Who am I? I am just myself, maybe I am nothing. I am lost if I am White. I am lost if I am Guatemalan. I am truly a sheep in wolf’s skin, trying my hardest to run with the wolves. But no matter how much I want to be a wolf, I will always be sheep who will never be wolf enough.

 

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