What do you mean “White Latino?”

Andrea_headshot72Andrea 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 always surprised to learn that I’m Mexican, and often comment that I don’t look Mexican. Really? I think I look very Mexican, and when I go to Mexico I see a lot of people that look like me. Then I realized that people are surprised because I’m White. Now, when people say “But, you don’t look Mexican,” I’m very up front and say it’s probably because I’m White, and then I remind them that Mexico was colonized by White Europeans, just like the United States. Perhaps if schools in America actually taught the history of the Americas—before and after Columbus—there would be a lot less confusion about why there are so many White people in Latin America!

I think there is also a lot of confusion in how to use terms like “Latino” or “Hispanic.” For me, these terms do not denote race, just as the term “American” does not denote race. Rather, Latino refers to a shared ethnicity: similarities in language, religion, food, values, etc. that unite societies of the Western Hemisphere once colonized by the Iberian Peninsula under the rule and patronage of the Holy Roman Empire. So Latinos can be White, Black, Indigenous American, Mestizo, Mulatto, Asian (another confusing term), multi-racial…

Keep the conversation going - comment and discuss with your thoughts

6 Responses to "What do you mean “White Latino?”"
  1. Abraham Ballesteros says:

    im a mexican american myself. and many people call me anything but mexican. “i thought you were brazillian.”,”you really dont look mexican.” i think that at the end of the day we are what our parents tought us.

  2. jz says:

    i have almost the same problem but to me is backworse everyone call me mexican but i am salvadorian even mexican think im a mexican

  3. Mack0 says:

    I think Hispanics are referred to as White Hispanic only when it serves the purpose of furthering a narrative.

    • Yerip Ian says:

      Like when they were calling the Zim Zam a White man. LOL

      • Andrea Fabiola Vazquez says:

        Totally! I hear most of my news via radio, so when I finally saw a picture of him I was surprised. He’s about as white as Colin Powell, which is to say he’s a light skinned Mestizo, so labeling him a White Latino was just a gimmick to inflate the racism issue. Which is also funny—is that saying that he had to be White for it to be a racist crime, as if there are no racist Latinos?

  4. Dara Nicole Boyd-Galleguillos says:

    My husband’s family is “White Hispanic”. They live in Chile and my husband has been here in the US for a little over a year. I think the look of people in Chile is different from those in Mexico because Chile has a lot of Italian and German influence, but people here still say that they’re surprised when he speaks because he has a thick accent and they didn’t expect it from someone who doesn’t look Latino.

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