If you've guessed something about me already, I'm a pretty open book when it comes to a lot of things. It's something that I press myself to do, especially if I ask my subjects to do the same in my paintings and photographs of them. It's only fair, right?
In this spirit, I’ve been wanting to write about something for a while now, and a few instances this past month really compelled me to do so earlier than I thought. To get to it quite bluntly, I really want to have a little chat about sexism and racism as a white Latina living in San Francisco, modern day USA. I think this is something that is not talked about enough and needs to have more of a spotlight, especially if we are going to move forward with modern day feminism (aka, the rights for all humans to live as equals regardless of race, gender, religion, you name it).
Touchy subject for most, but bare with me.
Yes, I am white (whatever that even means because yes, I’m a ton of different ethnicities combined into one and my skin isn't even technically white, but whatever). And yes, my name is super American (again, whatever that means to you, but I have been told that by others and am rolling with it for this post). And yes, I speak fluent Spanish (and French, but nobody bothers me about that, God forbid). I happen to be a good dancer picked up from family gatherings growing up, I learned Spanish in my home from when I was born, I grew up in the US and learned English in school, and I was named after a name my mother and father thought was absolutely beautiful. I really am starting to grow disgusted with the fact that just because I have "white" skin, I have witnessed first hand people asking me how I’m so “Mexican”, “Spanish”, "beaner"... you name it, I’ve heard it all, from the most politically incorrect to the most degrading and racist heard. News flash: there are white Latinos in the world who speak fluent Spanish, and it’s a complete insult to be judged by the color of my skin or the name my parents proudly gave me. God forbid I make one mistake with a Spanish word I say if I’m slurring my speech after a few glasses of wine, and suddenly my Latino "cred" flies out the window.
And to get something straight here: calling someone a "beaner" is never ok. When my step mother called my sister and I this, I'm really happy I didn't know what it meant as a 10 year old, but I'm happy my dad stepped in and defended us in our inability to understand such a degrading word.
All of these questions are asked of me and I am presented with these things so insanely often, almost daily, and I’m just sick and tired of it. I don’t need to prove who I am to anyone and I don’t need any pity; that is not the point of me writing this. But I do need to put out there that judging people by their race, ethnicity, color of their skin, language, or even name is completely degrading and is very hurtful, even if it's a "joke", and it really needs to end. Anyone who is judged in this way should speak up and know that they are fully supported by a loving community. And if I need to dedicate my work to this, I do and I will.
(This took a ton of courage for me to write, from the bottom of my heart, and I even got a little emotional writing it. If you have a negative comment please keep it to yourself or message me privately.)