Ironies happen all the time in the world.
On another day in the USA, a white Mexican exits the airport of Chicago.
Attending some nearby university.
During his semester, he engages in a conversation with a local American and mentions casually to him that “he is from Mexico.”
The American then ignorantly proclaims “what? No way bro, You don’t LOOK like you’re Mexican!”
Externally, the Mexican gives the appearance of someone seemingly confused and slightly annoyed.
But internally, said Mexican is bathing in the grand opportunity to sit on a high horse where he can judge said American for this statement.
In the most homosexual Valley Girl voice that he can muster, said white Mexican embraces his inner autism and goes…
“o seeeeaaaaaa, super nooooo, there are, like, white people in Mexico, don’t you knoooooow? Diber-city in Mexico. Like, o sea, dude, Mexican is a nii-city not a race.”
The American, seemingly confused on his end, just casually nods away, has more of his beer at this fraternity party and darts his eyes around thinking…
“right, right. So uhhh who isn’t as autistic that I can hang with instead?”
As always, the existence of “the white Latino” brings up awkward conversations from time to time in the US.
Like I wrote here, you got the occasional white Latino – stereotypically from Argentina or Brazil – who is insistent on “not being Latino. I am European.”
Then you got those leftist Americans who hate the concept of “the white Latino” because it challenges their notions of race and pokes holes in their “diversity alliance” where everyone else in said alliance hates them ironically enough.
Equally so, you have some brown Latinos who hate the idea of “the white Latino” because of envy due to skin color and money but also because this type tends to think of their country as “only belonging to mestizos or brown people.”
And, among other groups that are probably out there, you got the “white Mexican” who has his own ironies and inconsistencies that he dances with between two societies (the US and Mexico) that offer different social contexts for him to work with.
While I have discussed and made fun of the first three types, let’s focus on the latter.
The Changing Racial Context
To be fair to the white Mexican, I can only imagine that it’s hard for him to have a choice in doing the dance or not.
Back home, he is white.
In fact, he likely has a European name that is most likely of Spanish origin but, for bonus points, might be of European origin outside of Spain.
He has a status that puts him above most of the other locals in Mexico.
His skin color, family name & family money brings him a certain amount of respect that he wouldn’t have earned otherwise.
He is white.
But then, upon entering the US, he isn’t so white.
A little bit less white.
In fact, nobody gives a flying fuck that he has that nice German or Spanish last name.
In fact, if the name is Spanish, it could prove to be a minor or larger disadvantage depending on how Hispanic the area of the US he is in.
If he’s applying for jobs in small town Iowa, it might prove to be a bigger disadvantage than if he were to submit that job application in Houston, Texas.
Now, to be fair to him, it’s not entirely bad.
Speaking of jobs or education, his opportunities probably are, if I had to guess, better up there (though, if we’re being honest, a character like this had good opportunities back home and wasn’t struggling).
Also, if he’s a white Latino, then he can play off on mainstream US culture that makes being a minority seem cool.
On top of that, he’s a “white passing minority.”
He can ride that coolness of being a minority but is white enough where he “is safe but still interesting” to some of the locals.
So it’s not entirely bad!
But, compared to back home, one could argue that it’s still a downgrade from where he was before regardless of what part of the US he is in.
He is no longer “entirely white” even if he can enjoy some “cool minority factor” and his last name means jack shit up there.
On top of that, while his family has money, it’s probably not as impressive in the US as it is in Mexico given incomes are higher up north on average and you got more millionaires.
For the cherry on top, the dude might even carry some geeky accent that isn’t as sophisticated sounding as other accents from perhaps the UK.
All around, you could argue it’s a downgrade.
So, in a way, it’s not entirely hard to understand how said white Mexican reacts the way he does when people say to him “you don’t look Mexican” upon seeing his white skin.
For one, as a white person myself, being white in Mexico does make you “feel more like an outsider” and I can only imagine what it’s like being super white in Mexico as a Mexican with white skin, blue eyes and blonde hair.
In fact, years ago, I met a Mexican like that in Pachuca and he told me that he is always treated as a non-Mexican in Pachuca (maybe it’d be worse in Oaxaca and better in Ciudad Juarez).
So, for that reason, I can see why some white Mexicans can be insecure about this idea of Mexicans not being white.
Second, obviously it would be annoying to hear someone from another country have big misconceptions about your country. No doubt about that.
Third, while annoyances might happen, I also feel some of these white Mexicans just use the opportunity to go overboard and be condescending about it.
They might be used to being condescending to darker folks back home but now they live in a country where that isn't as highly tolerated and might find that perplexing.
But, while riding on the coolness factor of being a minority in mainstream media and in a large city, they get back on the “condescension train” and use this opportunity to condescend locals in the US when they hear some misconception about Mexicans not being white or whatever else.
Fourth, I imagine though that, on that topic, the difference from being white with a respectable last name to being seen as a “minority kinda” with a last name nobody gives a fuck about (or might discriminate against in some contexts like on job applications) would not only be something odd to adjust to but maybe even offensive.
Fifth, while this article does have a greater emphasis on white Mexicans, I have seen this at play with white Latinos of other nationalities (like Costa Rican, Colombian, etc). For that reason, this article is titled with the words "white Latino" and not "white Mexican."
Sixth, a greater irony here though exists with that said dance as hinted at before.
Where said white Mexican can brag about being white back home but plays the diversity card in the US even though he was quite possibly a condescending and racist prick to actual non-white folks back home.
Imagine the white Mexican looking down on a poor brown beggar in Mexico City and thinking snidely “indio” while then going to the US and playing that diversity card.
Strong irony there.
Though, like I said, it’s to some degree understandable how it happens because said white Mexican wants to continue to be condescending to others and uses the minority card to do so and now lives in a society where he isn’t seen as “entirely white” even if he has white skin with a European sounding last name.
Is he white?
Is he a racial minority?
For the white Mexican continues the dance to how it is best convenient to him.
Imagine said white Mexican literally on the border line between the US & Mexico.
One foot steps north across the line and he proudly proclaims “I’m a minority!”
Then the other foot steps south across the line and he proudly proclaims “I’m white!”
All with a cheesy, shit eating grin on his face and a glass of mezcal in hand.
In that sense, the white Mexican is a chameleon that changes color depending on his environment.
What color he is depends on when he finishes his vacation to Houston or Chicago.
A few days ago, he was riding high on that “cool minority” status as “exotic but white enough to be safe” but now thinks “indio” at the sight of the darker skinned local begging for change on Londres Street of Mexico City.
A dance that goes on within the social context of both countries that the chameleon inhabits.
While not every white Latin American is guilty of the above, it's not entirely rare either and is a bit ironic to see.
The Dance Along Political Lines
This is a last minute point I felt like adding here real quick.
Since writing this article, I also felt like writing a separate article about how some Latin Americans will talk like they are left-leaning in the US but actually hold very right-leaning beliefs when back home in whatever Latin American country they came from.
Though you might think that only white looking Latin Americans are like that, that is not always the case and actually I'd argue white looking Latin Americans are more likely to vote Republican (especially if of non-Mexican and non-Central American origin like if they were Cuban like Marco Rubio, Venezuelan, etc).
The reason for that, in my opinion, is because race- based identity politics influences how some Latin Americans vote. For many reasons and it's a complicated topic obviously, those of more Mexican and Central American origin feel more at home on average with the Democrats than Republicans even if they don't agree with issues on abortion, gay marriage, etc. It's similar to the black vote where black Americans might be more socially conservative on average but their vote has been monopolized by the Democrats than Republicans.
In the real world then, you might find a Latin American at some liberal arts college who bitches about Trump due to, in part, race-based identity politics influencing how he sees things but would actually agree with most of Trump's social policies.
Anyway, in case I never feel like writing an article on how the dance among Latin Americans work politically, I just wanted to write that down here also.
Anything to Add?
Anyway, that's all I got to say.
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