Throughout the course of my life, my ethnic ambiguity has afforded me what’s called “white-passing privilege.” Although appearing white has allowed me to do things like walk around stores without being followed, or to assume that I wasn’t discriminated against due to my skin color, there are many microaggressions I hear on a daily basis. I feel that because I appear white, some people are more comfortable saying problematic things in my presence than they would be in front of a more ethnic appearing person. Below are a few things that I, as well as many other Hispanics, hear on a nearly regular basis.
“I don’t mind immigrants, I just don’t understand why they can’t come here legally.” – When I hear someone say this, I assume they have no understanding of how immigration works. The path to citizenship is long, complicated and draining. Citizenship is not something that’s granted in three to five business days; it can take decades to become a citizen. When Diane Guerrero, an actress and immigration reform activist, came to speak at my school this past spring, she mentioned that immigration reform is not a “republican vs. democrat issue,” adding that people from both sides agree that our country’s immigration system is broken and outdated. If you are genuinely interested as to why some people can’t “just come here legally,” I highly suggest you do your research, or better yet, befriend an immigrant, and learn firsthand about their experiences.
“You speak very good English for a Hispanic person.” – Yes I do, and I speak very good Spanish as well. If you say this again, I won’t hesitate the curse you out in either language.
“You guys have, like, the best food.” – There’s no argument here. Yes, us Hispanics do make some pretty bomb food, but have you noticed that the white southern girls who tweet about queso and “margs” are also the ones who have the most to say against DACA and Dreamers? You can’t vote against your taco and eat it too, tonta. Plus, Hispanics have made more significant contributions than food. For example, did you know that the color television was invented by a Mexican man named Guillermo Gonzalez Camarena? Or that the first oral contraceptive was invented by a Mexican chemist named Luis E. Miramontes? Ironically, both of these are things frowned upon in Hispanic households, yet things white people can’t live without.
“I don’t see why Trump wants to ban Hispanic immigrants. Latin guys/girls are fine as hell!” – Like my point about food, there’s no argument here. We, as Hispanics, are pretty damn beautiful, but a person’s physical attractiveness doesn’t speak for their worth as a human being. If someone wants to immigrate to the U.S. as a means of building a better life for themselves and/or their families, they should be able to do so, regardless of their physical appearance.
“You’re not, like, really Hispanic. You’re, like, one of the good ones.” – I’ve heard this one throughout nearly all of my life. Yes, I am really Hispanic, and yes, I am “good.” Being well-behaved isn’t a quality that exclusively belongs to white people, and by referring to me as one of the “good” ones, you are perpetuating negative stereotypes.