I’m never too sure if I should write about my experiences with racism. It’s one of those “taboo” issues, well not really but for some it is as they like to think “racism doesn’t exist.”
I lived for short time, below the Mason-Dixon line in Washington, D.C./Virginia. Or should I distinguish like everyone from Virginia says? “Northern Virginia.” It’s a big deal to them to differentiate “south and north” Virginia. To me, it’s all the same, nothing different, except, yes okay… going more south leads to more republicans.
I bring this up because it was in this area of DC/Virginia that I learned what it felt to be brown. I grew up in the New York City area my entire life, the melting pot of America. In New York City, you know about different culture, languages, religions, countries, nobody really cares where you are from, you’re treated the same, what color your hair, what color of skin you are, etc. In the South, it’s a very Black and White culture I would say, which makes sense considering the history of the south. Me, being Hispanic-Latina, found it a bit hard to mingle into this pot of culture. I found it hard to find a variation of Hispanic foods, culture and people. I wasn’t the only one as I found that one of my coworkers, Hispanic as well, had the same feelings towards the area. In American history, it’s all about White and African Americans, mostly all of it is white, but Latinos/Hispanics are rarely found in history books. American culture and history is all about Black/White Americans that have shaped this country… Native Americans are treated so poorly; in history books that’s all they write about, pushing Natives around and killing their population but not much about their culture.
My experience with racism… everyone automatically assumed I was Mexican. I immediately corrected them, in my mind I laughed as their faces would turn red. People had commented on the color of my skin, “Wow! Your skin tone is beautiful and glowing.” You can bet I had goosebumps. Or just listening to conversations, “Did you hear that so and so have mixed grandkids?” Wait, what? Why is that a conversation? Why do you have to say “mixed“? A bit of culture shocker that I haven’t encountered. I once said, “wow, this is the south, this area is pretty racist.” And of course, “this is not the South and it’s not racists!” said the white person. Privilege spoke quite loud on that note. I once someone pointed out that I was the “different” person in the group, “you’re the brown one.” Sorry, what? Perhaps they were joking but jeez… At my tourism job, I experienced racism as well. I encountered numerous tourists from all over the country; the middle of nowhere South Dakota, middle of nowhere farm area Nebraska and so on, wearing MAGA red caps. I treated them as equally as I would treat another person without the hat. But these people instantly decided to ignore me, would speak to a coworker next to me because they were White and they made it known. Or even, “where are you from?” “Oh, I’m from North Jersey/NYC area.” “Oh yeah, of course you’re from North Jersey, you look like one. We’re from South Jersey.” Ah? Okay? You enjoy your trip, KBAI. Once a coworker said, “Oh, that’s not her real name. Her real name is some Mexican word.” Err… that’s not necessary.
These are just some examples, things people don’t think about. Racism is a touchy subject to some. In the year 2017, it’s very much alive. It’s going to take a very long time for America to truly become a post racial society. Our current presidential administration has definitely push more fuel for racism to become more acceptable when it is not acceptable. One day…
If I encounter racism, what about the other minority groups?