Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Identity Crisis, Just Not Mine

Unnamed Ignoramus: “Your last name . . . is it Italian?”
Me: “Nope. My husband is Mexican.”
Unnamed Ignoramus: “Uh, not like the migrant workers, right?”
Me: Blank stare.

It happens. Sometimes folks’ prejudices slip over their tongues and through their lips. Oops! But it’s not really about me. I’m just a plain old white American girl with German heritage (I’ve done the math; sorted through the genealogy. A few ancestors are listed as French but they’re also from Alsace-Lorraine and that’s Germany in my book). No one assumes I love beer and bratwurst. They don’t accuse me of alarming efficiency or secretly wanting to invade Europe. It must be so lame to have labels stuck to you before you even open your mouth.

Today I overheard this conversation:

Michael Jr.: “No, we’re Spanish.”
Sierra: “Nuh uh! We’re Mexican! No, Germexican!”
Michael Jr.: “We’re German and Mexican but the people from Mexico came from Spain.”

From there the conversation deteriorated. Michael explained to Sierra that the Spanish guys that came over married the Indian ladies and had kids. I have no idea if this is what happened in Michael’s family; I haven’t climbed his family tree that far. Michael Jr. went on to tell Sierra they were like bonobos.

Me: “Excuse me? You mean the monkeys?”
Michael Jr.: “No! They’re chimpanzees.”
Me: Blank stare. (More and more, this is all I have to offer.)
Michael Jr: You know, they mate with rival groups instead of killing them like they did to Native Americans here!”

Huh. How soon does school start?

(I love this photo of Papa Cruz. I believe he’s Grandma Christine’s uncle but Michael’s not awake to clear that one up for me.)
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