School just really sucks cause they take this wonderful concept of learning and discovering new things and just completely ruin it with the atmosphere of judgement and suppression of creativity and strict deadlines and basing your intelligence on a letter and wow you ruined it nice job
If i see another white person use the term ‘HOLLAday’ i swear to fucking god
Three years ago, I met a great Mexican guy. I was 18. He was 20. My dad had often discouraged me dating individuals of the other race. It wasn’t like an explicit conversation, but you know how parents insert weird life stories and their opinions into conversation? Yeah. It struck me as funny and it was unfortunate from the get-go of us dating that both my mom and dad had preconceived ideas of the Mexican race: they were controlling, they wanted to convert every single person, they were illegals… etc. Where did these stereotypes evolve from? I asked and they certainly were not from personal experience. To convince them that I wasn’t dating some thug was a challenge and annoying. I expected that my good judgement would be called into play. To me, a brown person was just another person to meet and get to know. I had long before had a fascination with the Mexican culture; in high school I took four years of Spanish, was surrounded by Mexican friends, and started dreaming of going to Spain one day. I viewed myself as a vessel of acculturation and removing stereotypes of race. I was permeated by things that often were opposite of what I was told and accepted them for what they were, thinking that I had the right mindset and judgement to do so. And I still stand by that notion.
My relationship with the Mexican flourished: I learned and was taught by his mom how to cook rice, enchiladas, flautas, and beans; I went to a Spanish-speaking church every Saturday; I hung out with his group of friends, all of which were Mexican; I regained some of my lost Spanish from high school; heck, I even adopted some traditional concepts from the Mexican culture and brought them into my daily life. I never felt once that it had taken over my self-identity, but just added to me and made me a more understanding person of people and the world in general. I bettered my cooking skills, I regained my faith, added another positive to my resume, and not only did I fall in love with someone completely different from me, I found stuff that I loved about myself.
But tonight, I had a serious conversation with my dad’s girlfriend. It went from being about the hostility between my sister and her to how my dad and her are concerned that I have lost my “white culture identity” and that I have been forcefully acculturated. I have never felt so offended and heart broken to hear that. I felt like they truly did not know who I was, what I was about, or what I stood for. Here I was, an average female Caucasian fulfilling the wishes of my parents: to go to college and get a degree, to be dutiful and live the life they wanted. And for the most part, I think I have done them well. I am an honors student pushing hard to receive my psych degree and graphic design minor next fall. I work two jobs, while maintaining a somewhat clean room. I don’t go out much. I rarely have people over. And I like to think I am quite respectable. I have plans for my future and I don’t have anything or anyone holding me back from what I want to do with my life. So, what’s the problem?
Is it because I love to cook ethnic foods rather than make mac and cheese? Is it because I understand a culture and have related to it? Is it because I am not doing exactly what my parents want me to do: date some fancy rich kid who knows everything about nothing and nothing about the world? I am not that person. I am a lot of things, but I am never one to let myself walk astray and be taken advantage by others or forced to do things or be apart of things I don’t want to. Although I am reserved and quiet, I am quite vocal about what I think is right when it comes down to it. I easily could have been apart of any other culture out there to learn from. It just so happened that I had an interest for Mexican culture and got the opportunity to really learn something of value and interest that hit me personally. And I wanted to take the stigma and taboo out of it.
I hate to say this, but would my family have had this view if I had dated some white guy or Asian guy or even a black guy? If I had adopted a culture that wasn’t my own, would they still have this conversation with me?
To have my parents believe that I am not who they want me to be is troublesome and disappointing. I want to be more than just a text-book fed individual; I want to experience things hands on. Before I was 16, I had already traveled around the world. England. Scotland. Wales. Ireland. China. Mexico. I felt like I saw things my parents and even others will never really understand until they have been apart of it. And it changed me. I don’t want to be a stereotypical white female, going to school to get a degree and get a career then make babies. I want to make a difference and to be influenced by others because we all walk a different path. The guy I dated opened my eyes to a world that I would have never envisioned or imagined. I took a walk in his shoes and resented the stereotypes against him and his family, even his race. I loved learning from them and teaching them about myself. I could only imagine their assumptions about me; some fancy rich white girl coming over to the house eating rice and beans for dinner. And to learn that I loved the simple things, that I wasn’t a rebel to have tattoos or my food was more than steak and potatoes, probably was an eye opener for them, too.
My point is, we have a lot to learn from people that aren’t like “us” or aren’t what we are “used to”. Its a shame and I resent my family for looking down at me and those I have surrounded myself as being people who have forced me into something. All I have to say to that is that I feel bad that they haven’t been given the opportunity to see the world through someone completely different from them. I’m a big girl in a big world capable of making my own choices, mistakes, and what path I travel. I chose to be apart of something so I could learn what I was beyond my front door. And I don’t think I owe anyone an apology for that.
I can try all I want to suppress and forget the awful things and for the most part, it works. I make excuses, provide answers based on small pieces of positivity. I believe people can change. But, then there are those late at night moments when I’m all alone and my mind wanders in the deepest of crevasses where the real you is stored and it haunts me. I cry out and try to run away from those demons, but they beg to be seen. I tell myself they aren’t real, that it never happened. But even after I am back to reality, I can still see their shadows in you.