“What are you?”
The question never bothered me as a child. I was proud to know my heritage. Proud to answer, “English. Irish. German. French. And Peruvian!”
It was always that last one that they wanted to hear. And then I’d ask them what they were, these little white kids, and they – mostly – wouldn’t even know.
It wasn’t until a long time later that I realized that sometimes those questions weren’t so innocent. And, of course, as an adult I don’t hear it so much because it isn’t polite.
I had a teacher in high school two years in a row and it took him a year and a half to realize that I wasn’t Italian. And it isn’t like he “realized” not really. It came up in the course of conversation in class somehow.
My husband thought I was white when we met.
And I am white.
And I’m not white.
It all depends on what you take me for.
I have a precarious white privilege. Straddling the line between the pale generations my mother’s family can trace back in time to grand old Europe and the fact that my father was born in South America.
I’ve been presumed Mexican
cursed as a lesbian
but the privilege my pale skin produces is
utterly dependent on
what I am taken for
day to day
hour to hour
face to face to face
am I lucky?
To be able to “pass” on cursory inspection?
With only a hint of the exotic if you’re looking for it
A trace of the hot blood, as I’ve heard it called
not worse. not the worst.
to be able to pass.
but scary in the way that I don’t know
which kind of face the face I’m facing will see in me