I am not brown enough to be an actual Mexican or Puerto Rican, apparently. I get “You sound too white to be Latina” or “You talk just like a white girl would!” Telling someone these things, as well as “You don’t look Hispanic” is not a compliment. And it isn’t just non-Latinx people telling me this... the racial/cultural dismissal comes from both non-Latinxs and Latinxs alike.
An exact quote from a previous post I wrote. And I am not the only one who faces this dismissal. These are two stories...
Sometimes I feel SUPER isolated in the geosciences - the other day at work, we had a retirement party for one of the senior staff, and I looked around and it was pretty much all old white dudes. Most of the time I feel like I kind of belong, but I still get remarks that imply that I'm only here because I'm "lucky" as a woman and minority in science. I know that I'm super fortunate to have a great job doing what I love....but I also worked hard and don't give myself any slack (whereas I feel my peers have more room to fail / more support from their parents who know and understand the work that they do). I feel like my life is more the Oprah quote "preparation meeting opportunity" - when someone showed interest, I ran through the door, even when I wanted to give up and sell myself short. It just stings a lot more when people tell me that I'm "lucky" or "had it easy"- they don't see everything that has built up to the success.
Even when I have female mentors, they're usually white women....and their experiences, while valid and important, are just different. I've tried to explain what its like to be torn between different identities and upbringings and perspectives and sometimes it feels like I'm not being heard, which sucks. I feel like I occupy a state of constantly being "other," and sometimes I embrace it a little more than other times.
I wish I had a Latinx or POC mentor in my field. Just because we are both women doesn't mean we have the same experiences. While they fear for them lives in the field, I also fear that if anything was to happen to me, no one would listen. No one would believe me.
I wish I could talk about similar cultural boundaries, where I feel like I'm straddling two worlds that are at odds with one another and neither fully embraces me. While this war goes on inside me, I am also not fully embraced in my field because people think I "rode into it via minority scholarships," as if I didn't work just as hard as my peers. It's tiring to always have to validate yourself.
Mi historia is a collection of stories from the Latinx community about their life. Their struggles, their triumph. Their history - our history - highlighted during a month where we celebrate our roots. These are their stories. These are our stories.
Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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