Speak Spanish? You don’t look “Mexican.”

pic2Kristiane Valenza,
Vicksburg, MS.

After moving to rural Mississippi from New York to teach Spanish at the high school level, I’m frequently met with confusion as to how I have an “ethnic” name and can teach Spanish, but I have fair skin and European features. When people ask me, “Are you from Vicksburg?” they really mean to say, “I know you’re definitely not from here because you don’t sound like us, but I don’t know where you’re from because you’re too white to teach Spanish, but are not white enough by my imaginary standards, so I have to ask because none of this makes any sense to me.”


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