The dialog on race relations continues. Here is my response to Leo’s comments on “Life Is Sure Interesting In America.”
Going back to that first letter of mine when I described myself, I said my appearance was at times either a blessing or a curse, depending on the situation. I am White and easily recognized as White, but it is never that simple in America. I am always very upfront about who and what I am, not because race/ethnicity is foremost in my mind, but because I try to avoid misunderstandings with people for whom it is an issue.
Since Anglos do not consider Hispanics as White, many get angry when they discover I am Hispanic; often I get accused of passing as White. They get angry because, so I have been told, they feel betrayed and fooled into accepting me in the first place. Some Hispanics think I am some kind of Anglo spy in their midst or they resent that I get “special privileges” denied them because of my appearance. Truthfully, I do escape much of the venom spat their way….
…I have found and will always find myself in the “in between,” lost somewhere between not Anglo and therefore, not White …. It really is easier to accept the reality of racial confusion than fighting with people all the time. Honestly, the fighting is stupid!
In any case, I digress. When I was accepted as a “colored girl,” I had decided not to correct my “classmate” because I saw no reason to embarrass her (that was the noble reason.) The selfish reason is that I truly enjoy the company of the African American women; they are so much fun. I had no idea that “Gloria’s” reasons for calling me a colored girl might be anything more than an error….Yes, of course, it is true that those women and I have shared similar experiences; I should have recognized that.
Then you gave me one aspect of the question from the perspective of the prison culture and I went into a tailspin. Let me refresh your memory: “a beef jumps off between the White and the Latinos—which side do you ride with?” No one has ever asked me to choose; I was so completely startled that I froze….I dropped the page I was holding. How could I side against the many people I love, who are White? What kind of person am I?
I don’t know if it was your intention to startle me so, but I now feel it was a question I needed to hear and answer. You guessed I would ride with the Latinos. It shocked me that you recognized something about me I did not know about myself till the moment you asked the question; I did not realize I was so transparent. You are right. Yes, I would want to ride with the Latinos, although I am equally sure they would not want me. This is why I have so often chosen to hang back and occupy the fringe of groups; I have always obeyed my rule that I do not go where I am not wanted.
…. I am grateful that the question was an intellectual exercise and that in the here and now, out here, outside of your prison world, choosing is unnecessary.