racism is not about race


a picture of my family last Thanksgiving. we’re outside in front of a wooden fence. from left to right: dad, me, mom, brother (Carlos).

can someone please explain racism?
I am a woman of color because I am Latina. My parents moved from Puerto Rico to Ohio (only cultural immigration, not citizenship change). My family has dark hair and caramel skin, and English is my parents’ second language.
I have albinism, so I have fair skin and blonde hair
I’m not adopted, I just lack melanin
I still have poufy lips, thick hair and other “defining features,” not to mention my last name ends in the quintessential -ez suffix
but apparently melanin is a huge deal
not only is melanin nice to have because it diminishes your chances for skin cancer, but it’s also the basis for discrimination everywhere. It’s happened for centuries and there’s evidence in Shakespeare’s play Othello just to bring one of millions of examples
my family has experienced open racism and microaggressions throughout their lives with people questioning their aptitude and morals of coming here illegally (which isn’t possible because Puerto Rico is a territory, but hey)
yet every day I am treated like a white woman.
a white woman with a disability, no doubt, so I experience countless microaggressions and instances of ignorance separate from those of my family, but that’s not what this is about.
people don’t understand who they’re talking to when they make Mexican jokes, mock Hispanic accents (yes, even my mother’s), and jokingly appropriate Latin culture in my presence. Yet when I disclose my ethnicity, people ignore me for the amount of melanin in my skin.
I have two surnames (on Facebook).
I speak fluent Spanish, while some of my friends who “look Hispanic” do not.
I have relatives in Puerto Rico, where I have been countless times, not on a cruise.
yet I am never enough. once white people know I’m not European, they’re cautious. Even other Latinos don’t hold my opinion with the same standard when they see me (partly, I assume, for my obvious disability). Not here, not there, never fully one or the other
as an outsider on every issue of race, I feel I am in an odd position, confused on why racism exists. If racism were truly about “race,” I would face the rampant discrimination so many others do, often on a daily basis. Yet clearly, it’s purely cosmetic.
I discovered why I wrote this while I wrote it, and my plea is this: imagine if the person you were less inclined to believe had white skin, like mine. Would you question him/her less? Would you feel more comfortable simply because of his/her skin color? If so, please re-evaluate your criteria for trustworthy people. Not every black person lives in the inner city; not every white person lives in suburban America; not every Latino is an illegal immigrant; not every Asian is good at math; not every Indian works in tech support.
please give people the respect they deserve. God gave some people more melanin than others, but He created them just as He created you. Show everyone Christ’s love, because none of us deserve it.
have a beautiful, sunshiny day.

2 thoughts on “racism is not about race

  1. Phillip Mason says:

    Not to stir the pot but have you consider the indirect racism you may experience because the name on a resume. Institutional racism may still affect you because melanin is only one part of the puzzle.. yes it’s a hallmark identifier for most, but if you examine institutionalized racism, you just may find some kryptonite.

    Within the same breath I do have to check my “white privilege” from time to time. I have been afforded the benefit of traversing many cultural plains and benefiting from societal ignorance. Who while racism isn’t always correlated directly you melanin, race, ethnicity and perceived race are definite factors.


  2. Minerva Casañas Simon says:

    The way you describe your experiences, it seems racism is define by ignorance or lack of knowledge, stereotypical views, language, ethnicity and cultural bias, but it’s roots are in the color of your skin which is usually define by ones race. But it’s all about a persons perception of you. For example my race is white but I look ethnically your typical Latina with dark hat, eyes and light brown skin. And yes I too, I’m Puerto Rican and a citizen that came on a plane, speak to languages fluent and aspired to an education.
    My advice be kind to others, even if they are not deserving of it….in the end is about you and who you are, not them. And that includes people who discriminate.


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