Saturday, July 18, 2009

Both is Beautiful!

"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?"

"No."

"So are you white?"

"No."

"Then what?!"

"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?"

"Yes."

"So are you white?"

"Yes."

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.

13 comments:

javierandres said...

Ouch seems like a struggle down there with the racism and prejudice, up here it's a lot more open and diverse, at least from what I see. Especially with the heat and all >_<

javierandres said...

Oh and I just read your comment on my blog, and I want you to know I was very eager to read my first comment. I was like YESS!! And also I'd like to complement your writing abilites- which far surpasses mine because you write so much more than I could muster up. But I think your blog is helping me write a little more- my dashboard is nothing more than a few drafts and 2 blogs. To further emphasize my previous comment, just take pride in your culture! I mean man I cannot say how exciting it is to call oneself Hispanic. I'm glad you reflect yourself as described in the beginning of your blog; "Lady of Guadalupe," haha thats hilarious.

Emm said...

What an interesting blog you have. I love looking at people of mixed race. I especially love looking at parents with their children and love seeing what the children have inherited from each of their parents. Then again, I think darker skin looks better than my translucent skin.

Juan Pablo said...

Thanks guys!!
Javier your blog is awesome, it will have more comments in no time.

Emm, I was so excited to get your comment! Your blog is awesome, as noted by the blogs of note haha thanks so much!

Emm said...

:) Just returning the favour!

Nicole Woolf said...

You are an intellectual and deep dude! I think it's cool that you looked up the "racist perspective" on the KKK website - it's cool because, even if you don't agree with each opinion, you are interested in hearing all opinions. I am so glad you embrace YOU - you can teach the future mini Juan Pablos both your cultures. By the way thanks for the comment on my post - I got excited to get a comment too!

Nicole Woolf said...

I don't understand the racist perspective. Scary how some people are scared of difference.

lacherie_17 said...

I'm mixed too--my mom is Irish, German, and Italian, and my dad is Cherokee and a little African-American (just enough to give us crazy hair, lol). I came out looking like a white girl, and my brother looked like my dad. I hated when I'd go places with my dad, because people would stare at my family like "oh, well the girl can't possibly be his", even though I have his features. People just can't get over skin color.

My brother has had it a little more rough than I did. Most people lump him into the Mexican category and others assume he is Arabic, which frustrates him because he actually LOOKS Native American, but he's just a lighter color because of our mom.

My son is mixed too, half Puerto Rican and then half of my crazy mix. He's got an interesting look, with the golden skin and super curly hair, but with bright blue eyes and light brown hair--I think mixed people are beautiful, for the most part, because our features are a collage of all the wonderful nationalities that we have mixed up in our DNA.

Simon said...

Being a Brit I don’t follow the undercurrents here, though obviously I get the idea. I’ll avoid putting my foot in it by commenting on the exact subject and confine myself to saying how bizarre (truly) to read in an American’s blog of how they are Irish. Or possibly Scottish, though for some reason Irish is the one you see most, especially on St Patrick’s Day.

I know perfectly well what they mean, but I’m sometimes tempted to leave a comment saying “You know, for all the years I’ve read your blog I’d been under the impression that you lived in and were born in the United States, to parents who are US nationals. Your remark ‘I’m Irish’ has left me rather nonplussed.”

The point being, of course, there are persons of mixed race or nationality, and in that great melting pot that is the USA all are equal – but some are more equal than others.

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Anonymous said...

The writer of vidajuanpablo.blogspot.com has written a superior article. I got your point and there is nothing to argue about. It is like the following universal truth that you can not disagree with: Murphy's Law is always true, except if you decide to depend on it. I will be back.

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