Never felt like I belong anywhere

Gabriella Sotelo-Cuevas,
Saint Anthony, ID

I’m mixed ethnicity my mother is a white woman my father is a Latino man who was deported back to Mexico when I was a baby. I didn’t have the chance growing up to learn about my Mexican heritage and I’ve always felt white is more of a cross to bear than it is a heritage.
I wasn’t always white-passing and some days I’m less white-passing than others.
It’s like a flip that switches for some people. Sometimes they see my name and I can see on their faces that they’ve decided I’m not white. Other times I tell people I’m not white and they don’t believe me. One time in a bar I was telling this guy I’m Hispanic. And loudly, a friend of my partner says “No, you’re white!”
I recall lamenting to friends one day at lunch that I was having a hard time finding a job, and felt that it was likely because I was getting overlooked due to my Hispanic heritage.
To which one of our friends replied “but you look white!”
I remember giving a statement to a police officer when the Subway I worked at was robbed at gunpoint and his attitude souring towards me after giving him my full name.
I remember when working at a Mexican food restaurant another employee (who was also Hispanic, though I’m sure he viewed himself as more authentically Hispanic than me) making jokes, in front of our manager, that I should be fired for not being fluent in Spanish.
I remember working out of the grocery store in Rexburg, Idaho, and casually chatting with my manager in the back who was a POC, and being absolutely stunned stupid when after I told him that I am Hispanic, him saying “ah! You’re a spicy Latina!”
I could say more but at this point, I don’t know that there’s a reason to. I’ve never felt at home in the Mexican community because I did have access to the culture growing up because I’ve always felt too white. But I’ve never felt at home among white people either because I’m not white enough.

 

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