|Here I am with my boys. Do I look like the hispanic nanny?|
When I was a child I didn't know I was brown. I guess in my Alice-in-Wonderlandish thinking I supposed that my skin just changed to match the color of my surroundings like a chameleon.
Actually, my parents never pointed out differences in skin color, so I never really thought about it until a well meaning Sunday school teacher pointed it out to our whole class. She explained that we should love everyone the same no matter what they looked like. She used my sisters and me as examples. "Even though their skin is a different color, we love them just the same as anyone else."
At first I was confused. Why would she say that? Then, I looked down at my brown hands and glanced over at my sisters' brown faces. Finally, I looked at everyone else in the class. I saw white. I was six years old when I realized I was brown.
Not too long after that, the cutest little white girl rubbed my face and innocently said, "Your face is dirty." Another child at the playground insisted that I was from Nicaragua and couldn't be convinced otherwise. In Jr. High, a friend ask me if anyone ever though I was "negro." These little reminders that I was a different color kept popping up throughout my childhood and they continue on into my adult life.
Let me set the record straight before I continue. I love being brown. It's exactly how God wants me to be. I like being different because it makes life more interesting and often humorous. I wish I could speak Spanish fluently. I wish I really knew how to dance the hula well. I wish I could make pateles and junto with ease. I wish I wasn't scared of that red dragon in the Chinese parades. But really I'm just "white" in a brown body living in a white world. And when you're white in a brown body living in a white world, people sometimes make awkward and hilarious assumptions about you.
The following list is a humorous compilation of my own personal experiences...
When you are white
in a brown body in a white world:
- People assume you are looking for a job when you go to a farm to pick strawberries.
- The checker at the grocery store tells you to, "Slide your EBT card, honey."
- People speak to you in Spanish and you regretfully have to say, "No hablo Espanol."
- Children may think you are dirty and suggest that you wash your face.
- When you are at the playground with your own children, other moms ask, "Are you their nanny?"
- A random lady from church may call you on the phone to see if you know how to prepare cactus.
- Your husband-to-be's relatives welcome you to the U.S.A.
- When your friend is scared of the hispanic man on the walking trail you think, "He looks like my sweet old grandpa."
- People ask if you're traveling "home" for the holidays.
- People envy your year round "tan."
- And last but not least... You are thankful that you've never experienced discrimination like your father who was punished in school for speaking Spanish, or your grandpa who played in the trees at recess while the white kids had fun on the brand new play ground.
Have you ever had anyone make assumptions about you based on your skin color or other appearance? Or, have you embarrassed yourself by assuming something about another person? Leave a comment and let me know... I'll laugh with you : )