My parents were born in El Salvador and moved to the United States in the ’80s, so I was born and raised in Southern California and have experienced both American and Salvadorian cultures evenly. However, some people look at me and make assumptions about my culture often based on the way I may act or speak. I’ve bitten my tongue for too long when it comes to ignorant comments and generalizations about my ethnicity.
Growing up, I attended a private Christian school where most of the students were Caucasian. I could probably count the Hispanic kids in my grade on a single hand, and one was my cousin.
After school, I would come home to a Salvadorian dish prepared by my mom and switch to speaking in Spanish the rest of the night.
Therefore, both American and Hispanic cultures make up who I am, but my unfortunate “valley girl” accent gives others the mistaken idea they have the right to make racist comments about my cultural background.
The conversation often goes: “(Insert racist comment about Hispanics in general), but you’re not Mexican, so I don’t mean you. You’re basically white anyway.” They’re wrong.
No, I am not Mexican, but I know in their ignorance they often generalize all Hispanics and call them “Mexican,” so it is safe to say their add-on at the end did not make the comment any better. Just because I am not Mexican does not mean I do not take offense.
This is common among several nationalities. When people make generalizations of “Chinese” people, Koreans and Japanese are not any less offended because these generalizations are directed to all people in the general region.
If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is racism. Hearing generalizations such as these frustrates me. No one has the right to put down another culture. People need to understand just because I may be American does not mean I won’t be offended when someone is putting down the other half of who I am.
Therefore, I would appreciate those who are culturally ignorant to recognize not all ethnicities with physical or cultural similarities are from the same country, and generalizing traits from an ethnicity to one nation is still not OK.