"So what's your last name? Naw wait, don't tell me! Gonzalez, Hernandez... some ezz." I stood there in silence as my co-worker cackled and walked away without my reply. I breathed a sigh of relief, little did she know that my last name was so far from any of those that in fact it had crossed the Atlantic and lived in Germany.
I felt awkward and slightly sick, the feeling you get after you've told a big fat lie to someone. I felt nasty and kind of dirty because I was mixed. I wasn't what everyone thought I was. I gave her every reason to believe that I was fully Mexican: I was wearing the world's most convincing costume. Rosa's Cantina was emblazoned on my hat, my skin had been recently blackened by the summer sun, I had the physical features of a Hispanic, I was wearing my bracelet from Mexico with Our Lady of Guadalupe on every bead, and at the very moment of our conversation I had happened to be rolling tortillas. I looked like some kind of exaggerated stereotype, like a character you might find someone dressed as on Halloween. That person would have to be incredibly racist to come as The Tortilla Maker, but you get the idea.
For some reason, I kind of enjoyed it. I enjoyed it when customers would come in and think, "There's some Mexican kid working at a Mexican restaurant." And I would think to myself, "Why yes, I am that Mexican kid! How kind of you to notice." The whole thing was like a show I had put on for myself, a front that I had created that maybe, just maybe, I would actually start to believe. I'm not usually in the business of fooling myself, but this was an exception. I didn't want to be mixed anymore, mixed is confusing.
Mixed meant people stopping me to guess my race, and me having to say meekly that I was Hispanic. Mixed meant being called "too white" everytime I showed any sign of academic success. Mixed meant I had to deal with America's disapproval of Mexicans while at the same time not truly feeling Mexican myself. So maybe, if I tried hard enough, I would convince myself that I was simply one thing.
I started to lose faith in my plan after a random redneck cussed at me for speaking Spanish in front of him. I suppose at that point I said to myself, "Hmmm, maybe I'm doing this too well and in fact have become too Mexican." After my hillybilly assaliant had exited, I had some reflecting to do. I had to come to terms with being mixed.
It wasn't easy. I think maybe I'm just a glutton for punishment, I run searches on google for things that I know will make me mad. For example, I felt the urge to get the KKK's philosophy on mixed people... just to see things from a racist point of view. After learning that mixed people are in fact the scourge of the earth, I felt no better. How would I reconcile the two races in me? My internal dialog went something like this, (I promise im not schizophrinic!):
"You're Mexican, it's undeniable, your mom is Mexican!"
"No I'm not, I'm half white and therefore not Mexican."
"Well you're not white either!"
"Maybe I am, just with something else in me. Like those white people that claim to have Cherokee in their blood because they have a picture of an Indian Chief in their grandparent's house."
"Well you don't look white! Have you checked the size of your lips lately?!"
Sometimes I insult myself for no reason.
"Well you don't look Mexican either!"
"Yes I do."
"No you don't."
"So maybe I'm just neither."
"Did you just quote the KKK?"
"But maybe I really am neither or nothing, race shouldn't matter so I should be okay with it."
"Everyone is something!"
"So are you Mexican?"
"So are you white?"
"Then what" is the question I had to answer, and here's what I've come up with... I'm both.
It's an over-simplified answer, but that's what makes it true. You see, I figured out I'm not inconsistent. I'm not a polka song that suddenly breaks halfway and becomes the Macarena. I'm not two different people in one body, and I'm not two halves that are constantly battling each other. I am one consistent mix, I'm both.
"So are you Mexican?"
"So are you white?"
It's the race of both. There will always be people telling you that you are one or the other, or that you are neither, but they're wrong. You aren't half and half, you're just one. It's not something to be confused about, just simplify it! Because both is beautiful.