• Race

    I went to the exhibit on Race presented by the Cleveland Museum of Natural History today, which was fascinating. It dealt with idea race from a scientific standpoint discussing genetic anthropology and ancestry to a social standpoint dealing with the history of race and racism, using to science to challenge the idea of racial differences themselves. It was eye-opening and moving to see how recent the concept of race is and how divisive it has been and still is in our society. The exhibit asked people who attended to contribute their own experience with racism here is mine:

    I'm Hispanic, both my parents were born in Puerto Rico, but I have red hair, freckles, and pale skin. I do not resemble either one of my parents or siblings very much, which has led to a lot of alienation within my own ethnic group and lingering feelings of self-hatred. I resented the way I looked so much when I was younger that I tried every effort to change it, including attempts to make my skin darker by laying out in the sun till I completely burned and slathering my skin with self-tanner to dying my hair darker, but to no avail. Regardless of my attempts I was still perceived as white and treated differently than my siblings even within my own family with the people I was closest to joking I was adopted and not knowing where I came from to being offered help at retail stores while watching my other family members being followed for suspicion of theft. When I initially tell people of my ethnicity they are usually shocked, including other Hispanic people, some literally gasp and say I would have never thought someone like you was Puerto Rican. I grew up in a suburb of Cleveland, which is predominately white and where people often make the mistake of assuming I'm white as well. They will complain about minorities, using slurs and being completely candid in their opinions until I tell them I'm Hispanic and then will quickly explain they are not racist and have no problem with me or the other "good ones." I distinctly remember a coworker telling me if our employer continued to hire so many mentally handicap people and minorities they shouldn't be surprised if things are done wrong and when I told her I am a minority she then told me she wasn't racist and I politely informed her she sure sounds like one. Even after telling people that I am indeed contrary to skin color not white, they will often still proceed to call me white arguing that I don't act Puerto Rican so by default I'm white. This angers me to such an extent, because the people saying it don't realize by doing so they are denying me my culture, my history and my entire experience being a young, Hispanic woman, because I don't conform to what their expectations of being Hispanic are. I am an individual, I like what I like for no other reason than because I do and I have no regard to do anything for the simple fact that many people of my race do. At the end of the day, although I am tremendously proud of being Puerto Rican I'm a human being just like everyone else and would prefer not to be categorized and enjoy the freedom of defining what being Hispanic means to me on my own terms without society's intervention.


    alifelessevident said...

    You are a very eloquent writer, I always find it weird that I am reading a complete stranger's life, but I suppose some may do that with mine. I love your photography, keep your love for art as much as can be. I do believe I will be following your blog. - Chris Sheppard

    PS- its weird to feel racism from your own race (not that we should expect it from others, just seems to hurt more when its your own) I have blonde hair blue eyes, and I shave my head- surprising that the only people who have called me a skinhead/nazi are white, had one kid back in school who called me Adolf, because his logic was- i shave my head, i must be a skinhead, so i must be a neo nazi, which means i must be like hitler... maybe someday people will learn

    Caltiki said...

    Beautifully written. Thank you for posting this.