I honestly don’t know why I’m part of this group. It becomes more exhausting as the days go by. It’s like a car wreck. You see a post you know is about to be problematic, but you can’t stop scrolling the comments. This time, it’s not about love, but about race.
This group can get VERY politically correct in such an uncomfortable way. Most of the time, it’s a POC posting about their experience in whatever country they’re in, and asking for feedback on how to handle it. Of course, everyone throws their two cents in, but as soon as white people do, there are several comments that say, “white people shouldn’t be commenting on this.”
Before I have people jump on this post, lemme finish. Unless a white person experiences it first hand, they will never know the struggles a POC faces everyday. You can inform them until they’re blue in the face, but until they SEE it or LIVE it, they will never fully grasp it. How can they? They can listen and respect you, but that doesn’t mean they absolutely know what it’s like. It doesn’t make them bad.
But as soon as I see the comments from people complaining about white women chiming in on the post, I feel a sense of dread because I am what you would consider, biracial.
Recently, a POC posted about her time in Vancouver. She’s from Vancouver, but her heritage is Nigerian. She’s asked a lot by people where she’s from, and she will say, “Canada”. But then they follow up with a question like, “No, where are you really from?” which of course is very accusatory and makes them feel isolated, as if they don’t belong in Canada.
Of the millions of women who commented, about 90% of them didn’t quite understand and were defending the question, “Where are you from?” which wasn’t the issue. The issue was the follow-up question rather than just accepting the first answer, assuming that person is not from Canada because she looks different and talks different.
Typically with these posts, they usually write something on the bottom stating, “POC comment only.” But that leaves me uncomfortable because I’m not sure where I stand. At first glance, I’m white. Growing up, I usually got questions like, “What ARE you? Are you Asian? You look exotic.” I then answer, “I’m part Mexican.”
I usually get this reaction:
I’m not entirely sure why everyone acts shocked. Is it because I look too white? Were they expecting me to say something else? Did they have a certain image of what Mexicans look like?
But what bugs me is this: I tell them my father was Mexican and his first language was Spanish. They assume he came here from Mexico. He didn’t. He’s from Texas. When I say that I don’t speak Spanish because I didn’t grow up with my father, that somehow makes me a fake Mexican. Suddenly, I’m not Mexican anymore and I’m just pretending, and then it belittles me and my heritage. So, in hindsight, I quite understand what this girl in Vancouver was saying on the Facebook page, but my experience and input is going to be slammed because I’m a white person and I couldn’t possibly know.
You’re right. From her own personal experience, I couldn’t possibly know, but I know a little bit to understand it. There are times when I blend in perfectly in the white communities and the hispanic communities, and then at times, not at all to some people’s standards. To be honest, if I ever felt unwelcome in a community, it’s usually been by the hispanic community. If I don’t speak the language, and I grew up with my white family in New England, then I’m not Mexican. But my father was so proud, so you can be sure he’d kick your ass if he heard you say it.
So I’ve been stuck in this middle ground my whole life. Part of me never felt 100% right saying I’m either one or the other. At times, it bothers me greatly not knowing where I stand. Sometimes if I decide to chime in on the topic, I’m told to stop talking because I’m white and I wouldn’t know. But if I say, “But I’m half-Mexican. I’m biracial.” Will that suddenly change their mind and now whatever I say holds value? That doesn’t seem entirely fair.
Everyone says they hate being put in a box, yet they continue to put everyone in a box. It’s a vicious cycle and I have no solution on how to fix it. I’m not Gandhi.