“You’re Hispanic?,” he said. “Prove it!”

Irmie S.
Bristol, CT

I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood. Both of my parents were from Puerto Rico but were of Spanish ancestry, which caused my fair, freckle-prone skin. I looked so different from so many of my caramel-skinned classmates. So, in Junior High School, when one Puerto Rican boy began teasing all the white kids, it wasn’t long before his eyes landed on me. Not wanting to be a target of ridicule because no one wants to be the “white kid”, I told him I wasn’t white. “I’m Puerto Rican!” “No you’re not! You’re Hispanic? Prove it!” So I quickly said the first thing that came to mind in Spanish. “Que quieres que te diga?” (What do you want me to say to you?) I suddenly earned a new friend and protector for the remainder of the school year, even amid the saddened looks from the white kids who looked so much like me.

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