One more than the other. The other has desperately been trying to get it’s hold and it’s been failing for nearly 26 years.
I’m not going to sit here and tell you I’m oppressed or that I’ve been on the receiving end of racism; we both know I’m not and I haven’t. I do want to talk to you about micro aggressions, because I’ve definitely experienced those. I think a lot of mixed kids do.
My first and middle name are Irish. My surname is German. My dad is Mexican.
You’re wondering how: my grandma. She’s the oldest of 10. Well, now it’s nine. I don’t recall ever meeting my grandpa’s family. We were always around my grandma and her siblings. Teresita and Daniel and Dolores and John and Aggie and Soco and Mike and Sal and Manny and David and all their spouses and of course their kids, but there’s 32 of them and so many of them are married now with their own kids. I won’t name them all, because let’s face it: there’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of love. Our family gatherings are fuckin’ LIT.
As much as I try, Spanish doesn’t register. It never has. My dad doesn’t really speak it and my mom didn’t learn until recently… but she’s white (Irish and German). It’s considered impressive for her to be bilingual. The fact that I’m not apparently makes me less of a Hispanic person. It isn’t as believable. But you know, in the same beat absolutely no one expects me to speak German or Gaelic. They totally accept my whiteness at face value. The moment I tell them I’m more, I suddenly have to prove it.
Is it my fair skin? I know I can’t get a tan worth my life. My nose? Maybe it’s the shape of my face or my height. My weight? Oh it’s definitely my body type. I’m not curvy enough, that’s got to be it. I don’t have wide set hips. My legs are really long and slender, that definitely comes from being European.
There was once upon a time I wanted to take my grandma’s maiden name when I was old enough so people might not question my heritage. That’s the earliest feminist thought I can remember having. Take a woman’s name and be completely my own. When I start to date someone, I seriously consider how long I want it to last if their name seems remotely complicated. Something deep in my soul wanted to rid my identity of its German roots, I don’t remember when it started. I know it was after the first time someone made a comment about Germans being Nazis — maybe junior high. When I did get old enough I had stopped bringing it up. When people would ask “what are you?” I would throw it in last and blow past it to avoid the interrogation of HOWWWWW. I still avoid it. Because no one can see it. All they see is white.
“Just being aware of the impact of your skin color is already half the battle… I know a lot of ‘white’ girls that have Latin heritage that isn’t validated by society and I know that really hurts them.”
Maybe I’m just another snowflake that is too sensitive. Or maybe there are other men and women out there who are tired of having to validate where they came from. Maybe there are others just like me who wanted to march on January 21 because our families would be considered refugees when they came to America. Maybe us mixed kids realize the impact of our families starting out with nothing and having to pull themselves up by their bootstraps all while being discriminated against because of where they came from, be it escaping the Mexican Revolution or the Irish Potato Famine. Maybe the women who are the product of immigrants want to do honor to their sacrifice and hard work. I am the result of all these things.
I love where I live. America is pretty cool. But is it the greatest country on earth? I’m not sure. There’s a whole world out there I long to see. I know the impact of returning to cities I love with people who greatly affected my life, I can only imagine what standing on the soils of my ancestors will do for my soul.
I hope one day we stop seeing each other as only one thing.