Stop Questioning Me When I Say I Am Latina


I am Latina. I am Uruguayan by both blood and paperwork through birthright and dual nationality. No one ever believes me. This racism is infuriating. I am constantly being told that I am not the ethnicity I say I am. It is narrow-minded when someone assumes that they are the expert on what a Latinx does or does not look like. There are blonde Latinx. There are blue-eyed Latinx. But this is not my case, I look like most Uruguayans. I have the same olive complexion that tans darkly in the sun and dark brown eyes. My appearance is indicative of my Charrua roots. I have slick brown straight hair, high cheek bones, and minimal body hair; these are all traits that can be traced to my indigenous blood. My sister has lighter skin, eyes, and hair. She has faced far worse discrimination. It is not up to someone else to choose the words that they deem fit to describe me. Whatever I say I am, I am.

When someone doubts my ethnicity it is incredibly hurtful. I am made to feel self-conscious about whether or not I should refer to myself as Latina. I am so incredibly proud of my roots. When someone questions my background they are disrespecting my father’s plight to the US when he fled Uruguay during the military dictatorship, my grandparents’ efforts to sustain their family after their cattle died of mad cow disease, and my ancestor who was the Uruguayan General who defeated the Portuguese army when they invaded Uruguay after conquering Brazil.

The issue of reverse racism is not exclusive to the US. In Uruguay, abuelas assumed our mother was our nanny because of her light hair and light eyes. When I lived in Los Angeles, New York City and Madrid, Spain the majority of the people who questioned my authenticity as a Latinx were Latinx themselves. Through traveling to 47 countries I have encountered many people who are doubtful about my background. Spaniards are skeptical to believe that I have Uruguayan roots as I am not completely fluent in Spanish. Just like my looks, my linguistics do not define my ethnicity.  Let us all remember that nationality, ethnicity, and citizenship do not all have to be from the same country.

Traveling the world has made me much more conscious of my ethnicity.
In India, where I am currently traveling, I have to defend my nationality daily. Locals refer to me as the widely disliked group of foreigners, which they call white people, rather than foreigners or western people. I do not identify as being white. When I tell Indian people that Latinx is also referred to as brown they refuse to accept this. They tell me my skin is too light to be categorized as brown, even though my skin is a deep tan shade after weeks in the strong Indian sun


I love my dark straight hair, my deep brown eyes and skin that tans like caramel in the sun. My olive complexion has made it very easy for me to blend in when I am traveling. I am constantly mistaken for a local and spoken to in the native dialect of most countries I have visited. This has happened everywhere from India to Greece to Albania. I am always proud to tell them that I am Uruguayan American.


I am Latina, and I want everyone to know it. Celeste soy yo!

2 comments:

  1. This is similar to some experiences I have had. My dad is biracial and mom is white. I look white, but my younger brother has darker features. Its always been difficult to convince people that we really are siblings, which is hurtful. Hopefully someday people will be more accepting.

    - Courtney
    courtneylthings.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, Courtney! It is not fair at all to have to justify your relations. People can be incredibly cruel and hurtful but I like to believe they do not do so with the intention of causing pain. Always be proud of your roots and take the time to explain them only when someone is genuinely curious and supportive, not critical and accusing you.

      Delete

Powered by Blogger.