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”…