Just white.

The image you see above is probably one of the few pictures of myself that I can say I truly love. Not because my hair looks wildly gorgeous or because I think it’s in anyway flattering. No, I love this picture because it captures the very moment I fell in love with México.

RC_HP_CANCUN

Allow me to explain: My boyfriend’s name is Roberto Carlos Rodriguez. He is a first-generation Hispanic cat from South-Side Chicago and has been ever so graciously sharing his culture with me for the past three years. We love to dance, sing, eat, speak and celebrate all of the colorful traditions of México.

Never in my life have I felt so proud of something like this. To feel like I identify with more than being ‘just white’ has been incredibly liberating.

But I’m afraid. I don’t want to be rejected by a community I’ve grown so passionate for. In truth, I’m not Latina – and I will never understand what it’s like to be Latina. I don’t know about the racism they face or the struggles they’ve endured. So why should I be allowed to celebrate the ‘good’ parts of a culture that have been reluctant to withstand the white man’s world?

I need you to know that I’m not ignorant, but I am tired of hearing “white people ruin everything”; I don’t want to be lumped into that idea anymore. I want to be the change. I want race and color to lose their subjectivity and I want to be accepted just as anybody else does.

One of my favorite quotes by Morgan Freeman was captured in an interview on 60 Minutes:

Interviewer: How are we going to get rid of racism …?

Freeman: Stop talking about it. I’m going to stop calling you a white man. And I’m going to ask you to stop calling me a black man. I know you as Mike Wallace. You know me as Morgan Freeman.

Some people fear a future like this, but I think it’s just something we should ALL finally come to embrace.

-HP

(Hayley Piekkola)

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