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…


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