My mom’s Jewish and my dad’s Peruvian. My whole life, I’ve always been the girl who’s white face didn’t quite match my last name.
Because I pass as white, I’m constantly having to prove my Peruvian heritage. I call it “coming out as mixed.”
When I first met my freshman year roommate, we were on a long walk together around our dorm, clicking on how much we had in common. I knew one thing was lingering on her mind though. She was a woman of color but was I? She mentioned going to school with a lot of white students and how difficult that was as a young black girl. Then she got a curious look in her eye, and with some hesitation and raised eyebrows, she asked me —“So, like what are you?”
I can’t deny my whiteness, because that means denying the privileges I have as someone who can pass as white. What most people don’t understand is that passing doesn’t automatically make me feel white, nor does being mixed make me feel that I can choose between my identities. They both define me.