When You're a Minority and People Expect You to Represent Your Entire Race
I was scared of the popular girls: If being Spanish meant dancing bachata or speaking the language perfectly, I knew I didn't even come close. Still, I played the tongue-clicking diva, sprinkling my speech with diques and peros and como asis while raising a perfectly tweezed eyebrow.
College inspired my political awakening—and I hung out with the community-minded sociology majors from the Office of Diversity. It was a relief to have friends of color on a campus where my blonde classmates had last names like Nordstrom. But even in the Office of Diversity, I didn't quite belong. Mexican food all seemed mushy to me, and I was constantly being schooled on our community's heroes, always sweating which Chavez (Hugo? Cesar?) was the good one. I still couldn't speak much Spanish.
Today I work in marketing. And I'm forever being asked to offer my Latina perspective: Is this something they'd like? But I don't know who "they" are. The girls I emulated in middle school? The sociology majors I organized alongside in college? I'm neither chicana, dominicana, cubana, peruana, or boricua, but I'm expected to speak for them all. So even though it makes me feel like an impostor, I do. Otherwise, my white coworkers will.
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