In Spanish Harlem, they looked at me and asked: ‘What are you?’

I remember the first time I thought I might not be White.

I was about 8 years old, in my elementary school’s cafeteria. We had been learning about heritage in class that day, and everyone in my Michigan hometown, it seemed, had ancestors who came from Denmark or Holland. They were all blonde-haired and blue-eyed. I remember a classmate turned around and looked at me and said, “What are you?” “I’m a kid,” I answered, confused. “Just like you.”

“No,” was the reply. “I mean, what are you? Are you Italian? Indian?”

I was confused. “I’m an American,” I said, proudly. I knew my mom’s family went back in this country a long time, and had fought in the Revolutionary War. Why would I be Italian?

As I grew older, I became hyper-aware of my dark hair and dark eyes. Everyone in town—and in my family, it seemed—was tall, blonde, and blue- or green-eyed. They all had little ski-jump noses. My nose was big, round, and wide.

But my dad was a tall blonde Dutchman, and my mom always checked “White” or “Caucasian” on my school forms, and—why would I question my parents?—so I grew up White.

Except for the many, many times, White people did not accept me.

It gnawed at me, the question I received more and more the older I got: “What are you?”

By high school, I knew I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t stand out because of my features. Someplace where people looked like me. I chose New York City, where I instinctively knew there were people who looked like me, and where, I thought, no one would ask, “What are you?”

Mas…In Spanish Harlem, they looked at me and asked: ‘What are you?’

Pocho Ocho worst new names for Hispanic Heritage Month

The pinche Trump administration is stuck with the annual observance of National “Hispanic” Heritage Month 2017, which begins today, but that doesn’t mean they like it. The POCHO news team has learned that the white wing traitors, crooks, and colluders at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ran through a list of alternative names for the observance before being shot down by the only Latina Trump knows — Lisa A Malinche, a low-level staffer.

Here are the Pocho Ocho worst new names for Hispanic Heritage Month:

Mas…Pocho Ocho worst new names for Hispanic Heritage Month

Latino USA: If You Give a Toddler a Tortilla (NPR audio)

She just wants to prepare some home made flour tortillas with her baby girl just like she did with her own mom. What’s the big deal?

NPR’s LatinoUSA explains:

April Salazar longs to make her Grandma Alice’s tortillas with her daughter. It is the same tortilla recipe her grandmother’s mother made in Baja California and later in Tucson, Arizona, after she fled the Mexican Revolution. There’s just one problem: she needs the stars to align… and the cooperation of her two-year-old daughter.

Mas…Latino USA: If You Give a Toddler a Tortilla (NPR audio)

Ancestry DNA test shocker: ‘Hispanic’ is not my ethnicity (video)


Livie was lost. She thought she was “Hispanic,” a meaningless category created by the U.S. government for the census, but after she tested her DNA with Ancestry, she found out she was — wait for it — all mixed up. Mestizo, so to speak.

Well, I got bad news for you, Livie. Olivia, possibly? You look Mexican to me. In fact, you kinda look like my Tia Chayo from Tijuana.

Mas…Ancestry DNA test shocker: ‘Hispanic’ is not my ethnicity (video)

Take back Latino Heritage Month and #EndHispandering!

hispanderingOn September 14 a Latina friend of mine who’s also a college professor said to me, “Brace yourself for Hispanic Heritage Month, I’m already getting phone calls about recommendations for mariachi bands.”

I laughed a bit, but her comment stayed with me. See, she’s half Colombian and I’m Puerto Rican, and the idea of becoming the “go to” people about such things struck me as, well, just another example of how stereotypes about Latinos often work.

The fact that people are asking her about mariachi bands reveals how U.S. society usually lumps us together under the umbrella label “Latino/a” or “Hispanic” despite our cultural differences and diversity.

At the same time, her warning (“brace yourself”) fittingly captured how many Latinxs/Hispanics feel about Hispanic Heritage Month (which I prefer to call Latino Heritage Month because I find it more inclusive, less Spanish-oriented).

Mas…Take back Latino Heritage Month and #EndHispandering!

Home Team USA: People of Every Creed, Color, Heritage (1952 PSAs)

psastillThree glorious black and white Public Service Announcements remind an “ordinary Joe” not to be “Joe Shmoe.” How? “Don’t be prejudiced.”

“Negroes and whites, Jews and Christians, [women are seen but not heard],” says the cheery announcer. “We are all in this together.” Also we’re all in the circus and on the baseball diamonds, high rise construction sites and neighborhood block parties.

Ground-breaking integrated pre-rock-n-roll boy band, the Benny Goodman Quartet, swing the PSAs to a brilliant climax as silhouetted jitterbugging hep-cats prefigure iPod commercials. We can make beautiful music together if we all play ball! Bake a cake for your colored neighbor. HOME TEAM USA! Tuned up for freedom! Solid!

Do you think Mustache Guy is Latino?

Mas…Home Team USA: People of Every Creed, Color, Heritage (1952 PSAs)