Personal Essay on Identity

WHAT IT'S LIKE GROWING UP AS A LATINA "WHITE GIRL"

Up until college, I grew up going to small, white private schools all my life, where I was one of few, and sometimes the only, Latina in school. Not by any fault of their own, many of my sheltered peers assumed "Spanish people" were tan with dark features and all "Mexican." So you can imagine their confusion when I, a fair-skinned girl, with golden brown hair and light green eyes, would show-off my Spanish speaking skills at school and brag about my Latin culture any chance I got.  “Wait — you’re Spanish [Latina]?” I’ve gotten that three letter question more times in my life than I can count.  As a bouncing pink-skinned, baby with wispy blonde hair and bright blue eyes, many times people would question that my mother, was really my mother. Yes, more often than not, my dark-hair, tan-skinned mother would be mistaken for my nanny — talk about a stereotype.  But it wasn’t just my adolescent white friends at the playground or assuming strangers that categorized me as a “white girl” — it was my own community as well. At this point in my life, I’m pretty used to people just assuming I’m white. Even my dark-featured, younger brother still thinks it’s funny to pretend I’m adopted. In my defense, my dad is pretty fair-featured, but I still stick out most in the family photos. I’ll admit it’s actually kind of funny when I meet other Latinos at parties and they can’t believe that I’m fully Latina. But, to a lot of my friends, especially the Latino ones, I’m “still a white girl,” to them. I don’t take offense to it, mainly because I know they're joking — and they’re not completely off. But a part of me feels like I’m always trying to prove how “Latina” I am or that I belong. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, and that it shouldn’t matter, but I can’t help but wonder if I’ll always just bethat Latina white girl. 

Up until college, I grew up going to small, white private schools all my life, where I was one of few, and sometimes the only, Latina in school. Not by any fault of their own, many of my sheltered peers assumed "Spanish people" were tan with dark features and all "Mexican." So you can imagine their confusion when I, a fair-skinned girl, with golden brown hair and light green eyes, would show-off my Spanish speaking skills at school and brag about my Latin culture any chance I got. 

“Wait — you’re Spanish [Latina]?” I’ve gotten that three letter question more times in my life than I can count. 

As a bouncing pink-skinned, baby with wispy blonde hair and bright blue eyes, many times people would question that my mother, was really my mother. Yes, more often than not, my dark-hair, tan-skinned mother would be mistaken for my nanny — talk about a stereotype. 

But it wasn’t just my adolescent white friends at the playground or assuming strangers that categorized me as a “white girl” — it was my own community as well.

At this point in my life, I’m pretty used to people just assuming I’m white. Even my dark-featured, younger brother still thinks it’s funny to pretend I’m adopted. In my defense, my dad is pretty fair-featured, but I still stick out most in the family photos.

I’ll admit it’s actually kind of funny when I meet other Latinos at parties and they can’t believe that I’m fully Latina. But, to a lot of my friends, especially the Latino ones, I’m “still a white girl,” to them. I don’t take offense to it, mainly because I know they're joking — and they’re not completely off. But a part of me feels like I’m always trying to prove how “Latina” I am or that I belong. I know I shouldn’t feel this way, and that it shouldn’t matter, but I can’t help but wonder if I’ll always just bethat Latina white girl.