I’m tired of talking about race. The topic makes me want to concurrently take a nap and scream. Though I’ve been talking about it for a long time now, ever since I was a feisty communist teenager with unfortunate haircuts. Now, I’m bored of it.
However, never having been passive, whenever I see or hear something racist, I feel the need to talk about it. (Unfortunately, sometimes I become finger-in-your-face kind of angry, my neck jerking back-and-forth in a ghetto-like fashion.)
People often seem to believe that racism is something that I imagine, as if I’m some sort of conspiracy theorist. After all, many naïve folks want to believe that we live in a “post-racial” society. Perhaps this post racial society is a place I’m not familiar with, a land filled with gnomes, Smurfs, and fairies made of chocolate. Here is a list of ignorant comments that have been directed at me over the years:
- I didn’t think you were Latina because you don’t have an accent. (You must also be confused because I forgot to wear my apron today. Please hold while I make you some delicious taquitos and take care of your children.)
- You speak like a white person. (I’m not sure who exactly you think I’m supposed to sound like, but I can assure you that my English is better than yours, which is not “white.”)
- You don’t look Mexican. (Please be aware that Mexicans are comprised of all sorts of people. There are sizable, black, Arab, and Asian communities in Mexico. Mexicans also come in all colors thanks to the rape of the indigenous people. In my family there are blondes along with very dark-skinned, dark-haired people. The Menonitas (the Amish of Mexico) also look downright Aryan. I may look Indian or Arab or whatever because of the amalgamation of Spanish, Arab (they ruled Spain for hundreds of years, sillies), and indigenous blood. But perhaps I should cultivate the India Maria look (pictured above) to assuage your anxieties.)
- You were academically successful because you are a minority. (In addition, everything you have ever worked for is a result of your ethnicity, you moron. Oh! I forgot that everybody loves Mexicans and that the whole country is just dying to lavish us with undeserved success. Allow me a few minutes to prostrate to the benevolent gods of this so-called “affirmative action.”)
It’s always astounding to me that people really think in these binaries. This is something I simply can’t get used to no matter how many ignorant things I hear. I can’t even count how many times people have been so utterly confused about who or what I am. To them I say, this is America, dumb dumbs— people are composed of dizzying amalgams, nuances, and even contradictions.
I don’t know what is so hard to understand about a well-educated Mexican American woman. I’m tired of talking about race and I’m tired of explaining myself.
Oh Hells Nah is a small and sassy Mexican woman exploring the relationships between poetry, culture, and food. She lives in Chicago, you can check out her blog — like hot dogs for your brain — or follow her on Facebook or Twitter @OhHellsNah.[Photo By Valerie Quintero Castro]