overcoming average(?)

because it’s something the world just needs less of

A Note on Race

with 2 comments

I didn’t think my perspective was all that special or unique until recently. For those who don’t know, I am half white and half Hispanic. My father was Mexican (I want to say second generation American, but I’m really not sure), and my mother is white of, I believe, mostly Western European descent. Most of you would probably not guess that I’m anything but white. I don’t have my fathers’s last name (Garcia), both parents were lighter skinned, and I wasn’t raised in my father’s culture. Despite my father’s absence, I grew up knowing that I was a mixed race. My extended family would playfully remind me about that from time to time.

When I was a young child, I can remember taking my first standardized test. On the back of the test booklet was where you filled in your personal information, and in one section it asks about your ethnicity, and to mark all that would apply to you. So my first grader mind read that, then started looking for appropriate ethnicities. First, I looked for “Hispanic” and colored in the little bubble with my #2 pencil. Then I looked for my other ethnicity and saw the most challenging question in that whole test: “White (not of Hispanic origin.)” I actually raised my hand to ask to my teacher what to do, because I didn’t want to take the test wrong. I made light of it in the moment, as much as I could at 6 or 7. It may very well have been that moment when I developed a pattern I still hold on to: making a joke out of something that genuinely freaks me out to some degree.

This certainly isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. It’s not like I’ve ever really encountered discrimination or racism the way many people with darker skin than I have. Recently though, a large swath of nut jobs have decided that White Hispanics are something the New York Times made up to turn popular support against a grown man who confronted, fought with, and fatally shot a young black man in an effort to support some liberal agenda. Regardless of your perspective on who was at more fault that night or the decision of the jury, the guy who pulled the trigger is a White Hispanic. His mother is of Peruvian descent, his father of German descent. I don’t see that being too different from my own heritage.

What bothers me a lot (but not more than someone getting killed who hadn’t done anything wrong), is that people on both sides of whatever debate is happening at the time want to point to George Zimmerman and say he’s either not really white or not really Hispanic. Identifying as a specific race seems to be so much more about how others perceive and treat you than it does anything else. No one has ever asked me to translate Spanish for them, or what the appeal of novelas are, or if I’d be more likely to vote against a Republican that voted for immigration reform despite my “firm family values.” People treat me like they would any white person with all the stereotypes that may entail. So when people hear neighborhood watch captain named Zimmerman, they will probably assume that’s a white person. That doesn’t make me or Zimmerman any less Hispanic though.

This could very well be my first real experience with racism or prejudice. Some “leading voices” have made the assertion that what I am doesn’t actually exist.


Written by matt

July 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. Good job son. Very thought provoking and well said.

    Susan Fontaine

    July 24, 2013 at 10:28 am

    • i ran into this just yesterday filling our school paperwork for the grandkids, there is no slot for biracial children. i just mark everything that i think fits and let the school district figure it out from there.Its hard to make them proud of who they are. and then society whats them to be one or the other, This is the main reason i did not vote for obama, he let himself be labeled a black man when he is actually a biracial man.
      he is no different then my granddaughter and just because she looks more white than black it doesn’t make her white, if fact most of her school mates think she’s a mexican mixed.Ivy (white) Austin(white/Mexican) and Tricia(white/black) have a hard explaining to people that they are cousins,and most of them don’t get it. well said and so true matt, something most people never give a thought to but there are many people out there dealing with it

      mary jared

      July 24, 2013 at 9:52 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: