It’s a breezy Saturday morning and my boots are hitting the pavement towards my second coffee of the day. I’m strutting as if the world is my runway because I am meeting with Marcela Garcia and Tanya Gonzalez-Hope; two honest, intelligent, Latina women whom I had connected with at a local literary event.
In a series of questions I call, “Tell Us How You Really Feel,” we get a honest perspective shared by two women of color raised in a white man’s world.
about Being Latina
[TG-H] People expect us to be bombshell Latina. You can’t show any emotion because you’re immediately written off as over-emotional. Latinas are expected to have fiery tempers, like Gloria from Modern Family.
[MG] It’s something we’re constantly trying to suppress. I’m constantly at war with being the person I am and not worrying about what people expect me to be. It’s a dichotomy.
[TG-H] People feel like it’s a conquest. Very often, it’s a fetish. When I’m dating, I’m guarded because even dating is political when you’re a woman of color.
I’m slender, petite, ethnic but not too ethnic. I’m well-spoken and for many guys who date me, it’s more about the social equity of walking into a room with a beautiful woman. They want to appear to be more successful. So, at what point are you just tolerating my existence and is this for real?
[MG] Women shouldn’t bring status to you, we’re not objects, we’re not trophies. We’re human beings.
about Being Sexually Objectified
[MG] I was once told by my friend’s boyfriend not to wear low cut tops because he couldn’t stop staring at my boobs. Think of the power behind that! He felt like he had the right to tell me what to do because it made him uncomfortable. It’s disgusting and it makes me want to wear low-cut tops every day for the rest of the week.
[MG] I love being dark; it’s part of my cultural identity. I have to be comfortable with it and own it. It’s an arsenal. Like, if I know what I am, you can’t hurt me by calling me names. I am a brown woman and I love my skin tone, I guess I am the color of poo.
[TG-H] Marcela and I have a different experience because she’s darker than I am. For a long time, I didn’t want to be dark. When every part of your identity is under attack, all you want to do to assimilate.
[TG-H] We were trying to be as white as we could be; The Model Minority. If you’re polite, you laugh at the racial stereotypes, and you’re white passing.
People don’t see how they’re contributing to cultural microgressions by laughing at racial stereotypes because they’ve haven’t experienced it on the other side. “That’s awful,” they’ll say, but they don’t have to relive moments when their identity is attacked.
[MG] I drew a line when I was at my friend’s house and someone was telling a racist joke about Asians. He asked, “would a Mexican joke be better?” No, a Mexican joke would not be better. None of these racial jokes are funny.
We shouldn’t stand for that anymore. I take issue with people who are Latin who talk badly about Asians, or black people, or other Latinos.
on Speaking Up
[TGH] I spent 6 years censoring myself and I’m allowing myself the right to be angry. I’m mad and I’m mostly mad at myself because I never trusted my gut.
[MG] I’m speaking up because I’m the most comfortable with myself than I’ve ever been. I’m speaking up for the future generation. My niece, I want her to grow into a salty woman. I want her to realize the injustices and the privileges she has as a white-passing Latina. That’s her reality and I don’t want to sugar coat it.