On Being Non-White, But Passing Terribly Well

On Being Non-White, But Passing Terribly Well

Everyday Feminism

Patricia Gutierrez
Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

“Psst… Hey, Patty! You speak Spanish? Ignoring me? Hey! You speak Spanish?”

P.E., third period, seventh grade.

Every time Ricardo saw me, he would ask me the same question.

At first, I would answer yes, but he would always get me back with a “Nah, prove it. Say something.” I never did.

I would often imagine myself yelling, “¡Que sí, güey! ¿Ya cuántas veces te tengo que decir, pues? Pinche metiche,” but in reality, my face would blush and my hands would sweat in frustration such so that I’d slip while trying to do a pushup.

I stopped talking to most kids at school when I moved to a new district at five (also when I was given a “new” name by my white teacher who pronounced it wrong; I didn’t have the voice to correct anyone until two years ago), and I didn’t really start again until high school. I wasn’t going to open up for Ricardo.

But Ricardo wasn’t the first person to demand proof, to demand to know why my last name and my appearance didn’t make sense to them (“Pues, es que mi familia es de Nayarit y Jalisco.” “Aaah, bueno, por eso.”), and he wouldn’t be the last….

Read the entire article here.

Tags: ,