Yes, I am Latina! Geez…

Nothing ticks me off more than when I overhear someone talking about me in Spanish, not realizing I am Latin! There are so many reasons this annoys me, here are a few:

 1. We are in America where the 2nd language is Spanish, so there’s a good chance even a gringo would understand what you are saying.

2. If you’re going to talk about someone, in English or Spanish, do not make it so obvious because I can tell when the people doing my nails are speaking about me by the tone in their voices and the way the slightly glance my way and then dart their eyes back again to their fellow manicurist, yet I don’t understand a lick of Vietnamese.

3. We do not all look alike! You would think another Latino would get that!

I am a Mexican-Salvadorian-American, but mainly, people just assume I’m white. I can never figure out why. Can’t they see the slight accent in my voice? The extra sass in my walk? The deep dark brown, almost black colored eyes? The olive tone to my skin?Maybe the fact that my last name is latin? (maiden at least) How about when asked my nationality( and I actually say that my dad is from Mexico, and my mom’s dad is from Mexico and her mother from El Salvador) and I still get asked if I have anything else in me to answer for my light skin. I can’t help but get offended. I always felt like I wasn’t “enough” and that I had to prove my Mexican-ness. One of my favorite quotes from the movie, Selena, explains it all: 

“It’s hard being a Mexican-American. We have to be more Mexican than the Mexicans and more American than the Americans both at the same time! It’s exhausting! ” Edward James Olmos, as Abe Quintanilla

I went through my younger years feeling not “Mexican” enough when my cousins would point out to me that I wasn’t 100% Mexican, only 75% Mexican and 25% Salvadorian. I was reminded at school when other latin kids would speak in Spanish in front of me and then ask me the same question in english. I would constantly remind them I was “one of them”. Even tanning and dying my medium goldne brown hair black didn’t help me in my quest for “loooking” more Mexican.

 I lived in the mid-west and Georgia where I heard constantly these comments:  “Wow, you don’t look Mexican,” or “You’re really light for a Mexican,” and ” You’re really tall for a Mexican,” and the rudest, possibly most racist comment I have yet to hear, “You’re very pretty. (pause) For a Mexican.” Yet these states wonder why they are considered to be close-minded and racist states.

It has been thrown in my face that I am not “enough” to the point that I finally gave up trying to prove my “latina-ess” to people and realized it’s their burden of ignorance to bear and not my job to educate them. First of all, there is no universal “look” of a Mexican. It would be like someone saying to an America, “But you don’t look American. Where’s your blue eyes, blonde hair and t-shirt with an American flag on it?” Same with Mexico, it’s a country, not a race. It is a nationality with different regions within it that had different types of races colonized in those areas, therefore making up a different mix of people.

If a person truly wants to know my race and have legitimate questions I am more than happy to answer any questions for them. However, when there is an undermining tone to their questioning, I quickly put them in their place by asking their race and why they don’t fit the stereotype in my head. And if I hear someone talking about me in Spanish, I kindly tell them that they are very rude and ignorant to think they are the only ones who can understand Spanish and  I say it in the most proper Spanish of course. =0)

And as Forest Gump said, “That’s all I have to say about that”…

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8 thoughts on “Yes, I am Latina! Geez…

  1. HAha! Great post! I totally relate. I really really look white and my last name is Churchill from my daddy. Even though I am half and half, I grew up with my Cuban family and speaking Spanish, but no one ever thinks I am Latina. In jobs, on the street, anywhere, there are people that say things in Spanish in front of me thinking i don’t understand and they get their socks blown off when I understand them, it’s hilarious actually! Anyway, you are right, there are many different “looking” Latinas. I am also done trying to prove I am Latina (though I am using my mother’s last name more so that people see I’m Latina in documentation, such as my resume). Being Latina is a way of being, not a way of looking. It is about our traditions, heart, and sabor de la vida. Latinos are not caught up in all the things that separate, but care about the things that bring us together, family and community. We really know how to love life and like Celia always said “Goza!”

  2. Omg great, I totally relate! It’s not that I don’t look Latin, it’s that my own kind would tell me I’m not mexican enough bc I sound like a valley girl and I was not a “chola” lol really! I too am mixed mexi/salvi and was never fully accepted my my own Latins, well guess what I am me, speak Spanish fluently and very proper may I say 😉 and am proud to be latina American! I always say embrace you and who you stand for and be proud of how you were brought up bc at the end of the day race should not matter!! Love ya!

  3. Being both mexican and salvadorian was a challenge for me growing up. I was constantly asked which I was most of. For me both are so deeply intermingled in me and have made me who I am. I am very proud of my mextiso heritiage.

  4. Interesting posting. I was just scanning and it caught my attention. Having a hyphenated last name has lead to being asked if I’m Spanish (never Latino). I’m basically an American mutt, only second generation on my dad’s side, which is usually my first response. Spanish is one of the few not in the mix, then neither is French, which is the origin of my last name (that is a whole long story in itself). I generally have few common features assumed to be Spanish, yet this has never stopped people from asking.

    What gets really interesting is after answering, as well as other times when no one assumes I may understand them, they start talking about me in Spanish. I grew up half my childhood in Hartford, CT where I was the only kabacho around and my ex-wife is Puerto Rican. They always get flustered when they get a response. So I get the frustration even if for different reasons.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read my post! I am glad you enjoyed it! It was just bothering me that other Latin people tend to be more judgemental of other Latins. Annoys me. I usually just use my married name which is German and that really throws people off!
      What’s funnier is when they hear me speaking Spanish to my son who is half latin and half Cambodian- they’re really curious to know “what” I am then!! LOL

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