Shit White Parents Have Said to Me

While looking forward to and planning for A-Camp’s Queer Women of Color Panel – race, color, privilege, dating and all of the things in between – I realized my brain needed a little break from all those serious thoughts. Obviously a break equals thinking about chicks, which made me think of the chicks I’ve loved and dated, which naturally brought me to their parents. Meeting parents is ALWAYS awkward. Amiright? On top of it being awkward just because, the whole “me being Latina” thing often adds an extra special element of polite unintentional racism and often humorous discomfort when meeting White parents. I am honored to share the best nuggets with you.

 

 

Shit White Parents Have Said to Me

1. Wow, you’re so articulate.

2. Were you born here?

3. Can you dance Salsa? Cook Spanish food? Clean my house?

4. Are you related to Jennifer Lopez?

5. Well, do you maybe just kind of know Jennifer Lopez? You know, like from the block?

6. Minority youths are really just more violent than white ones. Seriously, you can’t argue with the news.

7. My parents lived in the Bronx during the 1950s. Do the Jews still live there?

8. So tell me, you carry a knife right? Like a switchblade? Boxcutter? No? Really? Hmm. I guess I’ll take your word for it.

9. Not to be racist but…

10. Do you live in a tenement?

11. Not to be stereotypical but…

12. So it’s you and your brother, are you both from the same parents?

13. Oh, wow, so your parents are married. That’s refreshing.

14. God, I love your curly hair. You’re lucky. I have to pay hundreds of dollars for mine to look like that. It’s yours, right? Can I touch it?

15. What a nice little Puerto Rican girl you are…

16. Wish [insert name of girlfriend/friend] could be more like you.

17. So are you the first in your family to graduate college?

18. I don’t believe in affirmative action, you understand. Everyone needs to be able to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and succeed. There’s nothing holding back any Blacks or Hispanics in this day and age.

19. Check out my collection of Mexican Art. Don’t touch anything.

20. My mother knew a Salvadorian woman once…

21. Good morning. Please stop f*cking my daughter, put some clothes on and let’s get ready for church. Jesus Christ.

22. Want a beer, kid? I don’t have any Coronas though. Sam Adams ok?

23. I’ll drive you home. That neighborhood of yours is terrible. How have you even survived?

24. Do your parents speak English?

25. Don’t mind anything my asshole husband says, I think you’re great.

 

What weird and uncomfortable things have parents outside of your race/ethnicity/socioeconomic background said to you?


Special Note: Autostraddle’s “First Person” personal essays do not necessarily reflect the ideals of Autostraddle or its editors, nor do any First Person writers intend to speak on behalf of anyone other than themselves. First Person writers are simply speaking honestly from their own hearts.


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Gabrielle Rivera is an awesomely queer Bronx bred, writer, spoken word artist and director. Her short stories and poems have been published in various anthologies such as the Lambda Award winning Portland Queer: Tales from the Rose City and The Best of Panic! En Vivo from the East Village. Her short film "Spanish Girls are Beautiful" follows a group of young Latina and Caucasian girls who like girls as they hook up, smoke up and try to figure sh*t out. She also freelances for Autostraddle.com while working in the film and television industry. Gabrielle is currently working on her first novel while bouncing around NYC performing spoken word and trying to stick it to the man.

gabrielle has written 76 articles for us.

182 Comments

  1. Thumb up 0

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    Not necessarily a girl’s parents. But general parents-

    “You know what they say about Mexicans….”

    (My mother’s maiden name is Gonzales)

    “Ugh, gays, they want a Gay-Straight Alliance at her (daughter’s) High School. Why do they need that? They can do whatever they want, good for them, but they don’t need to be ‘recruiting’ at schools.”

    (stands there in dress, gives side eye and decides to down cocktail as my mother looks on HORRIFIED I’m going to get into it with the Suburban mom)

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    Does it count if it actually is what our own parents told us or the girlfriend? I swear most of the time I feel like they’re not from the same race/ethnicity/socioeconomic background, not from the same planet altogether… :-S Maybe it doesn’t help that I’ve been gone from their country for about 16 or 17 years, but still.

  3. Thumb up 1

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    1. wait, what race are you again?
    2. your black?
    3. your hair is actually soft, wow it’s almost like white hair.
    4. have you ever wondered who your dad is? (he died, we were extremely close) oh. are you gonna hit me?
    5. can you sing? you just look like you can sing. (yes. smh.)

    top five

    I’m Black, Korean, White, and American Indian (i even have a card).

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        Oh just that I rarely get blatantly racist or “I’m trying to be progressive but failing miserably” statements said around me, because it seems that many White people are happy to read me as White. (Also oddly many Latino people are happy to read me as Latino.) I often feel like I am undercover or something, so it is generally not MY presence that makes people want to bring up race or ethnicity, it is when we walk past or watch something with obvious lower class people of color. Which is to say, I don’t seem to fit into peoples’ stereotypes so people don’t see that part of me. When they see people that do fit into their stereotypes then of course confirmation bias.
        It’s fucked up.

  4. Thumb up 3

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    “Really? But you look [so white/so normal/just like us]!”

    “So how come you have blue eyes?”

    “No way, do you know any terrorists?”

    “But your name is normal!”

    “Oh, so that’s why you’re good at maths!”

    “Really? But you’re so good at English!”

    “Lebanese? Glee was joking, honey, it’s pronounced ‘lesbian’.”

    …okay, so I’m pretty sure the third and the last were jokes. At least I really hope so.

  5. Thumb up 2

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    aww don’t be sorry lol

    i don’t know if this is wrong of me or if i’m a bad Latina or something but i never check people’s parents for racist-y comments.

    one, i just don’t think certain things register for people in older generations and it’d be exhausting to go into all the whys.

    two, not my job. if something really offensive is said it’s the chick i’m dating who needs to “check” her parents not me. i’ve been raised to respect people and their homes and their parents and it’s always better in my opinion to quietly nod and walk away.

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      Not sure if it’s better to quietly nod and walk away, like so many things, I feel it’s debatable :-), but I’m quite positive it’s the right thing to do not to hold the child (i.e. the girlfriend) responsible for her parents’ mistakes and/or stupidity, and obviously, you’re not bearing any grudge there, so there you are… :-)

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      haha I know my parents would say something dumb, but I would definitely not let them talk to my girlfriend like that without me saying something back. It’s not your responsibility to defend yourself because the situation makes it waaaay too awkward for you to say something. You can’t stand up to your girlfriend’s parents. She should do that. Definitely.

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    Ok, I told myself not to sign in on Autostraddle today b/c I’m already behind at work–but srsly, I had to go to breakfast with The Wasteunit first thing this morning to hear all about A-Camp! Duh. #priorities
    But this was just too good to pass up–Shit people say to me when they find out I’m Americian Indian, in no particular order…

    -you don’t look Indian
    (*facepalm*–could pay off my medical school student loans with a dime for every time…)
    -how much Indian are you?
    -are you a real Indian? Like with a casino?
    (people, there are >600 tribes in North America and <50 have casinos, jusayin')
    -do you dance and shit?
    (Yes Virginia, I both dance and shit. Next question.)
    -what was it like growing up on the reservation?
    (no clue, I grew up in San Francisco)
    -do you know secret Indian sex stuff?
    -do you hunt with a bow and arrow?
    (Yes, but from the bed of a pick up truck ya dumbass.)
    -You can't be Indian, you have blue eyes.
    -did you get into college b/c you're Indian?
    -did you get into medical school b/c you're Indian?
    -Red Hawk is your last name? (Yes.) Is that your real name? (wtf.)
    -I've always wanted to fuck an Indian, wanna do me?
    -oh I'm totally into all that Native American spirituality stuff,
    my Spirit Animal is________________________.(insert kittens, Tegan and Sara, lingerie,PBR etc–you get the point…)

    jesusfuckingchrist that felt good….!! lol-

  7. Thumb up 1

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    -“Wait, both of your parents are Mexican? How did you turn out so white? Maybe your real father was a white man.”
    -“If you hadn’t told me you were Mexican I would’ve never guessed it. Why don’t you just say you’re white? Wouldn’t you rather just say you’re white?!”
    -“You have so many siblings! Oh that’s right, you did say you’re Mexican.”
    -“Did your parents come here illegally? Are they citizens? How do you speak English so well?”

    And my all time favorite:
    Parent- “Oh, you go to UCLA? You must’ve gotten really lucky, they look for that lower income, first in the family to go to college type.”
    Me- “Um, my family’s not low income, and I’m not the first. My brother also went to and graduated magna cum laude from UCLA, and I’m about to do the same.”
    Parent- “Oh, well I mean, they are trying to make their campus as diverse as possible, since you’re both children of illegals, of course they’re going to help you out, it makes them look good.”

    Super fun happy times…

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      I love (by which I mean “cringe at”) all the assumptions made in your list.

      Also holy WTF, someone actually said you’re children of illegals? Did you punch them? Am I white-knighting (sorry about the pun) if I want to punch them?

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        Yup, he actually did say that to me but I didn’t really want to punch him, I wanted to roundhouse kick his stupid face… but I was raised better than that, so, no punching or roundhousing for me, I just let him speak nonsense until his own family told him off.
        It doesn’t really bother me when parents say things like this because most of the time I can tell they’re not trying to insult me, they just genuinely want to know/don’t know any better (granted, there are those rare moments when they really just are being racist a-holes.)
        But alas, they’re not the ones I’m dating.

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      Whoa, someone said you should just say you’re White?! That is seriously messed up. That’s going on my “White privilege list of really f**ked up s**t people thankfully don’t say to you so appreciate that fact”.

      Also, you apparently have extremely good self control, can you give us all some tips?

  8. Thumb up 1

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    1. you’re so articulate. if i never hear that again in my life i would be so fucking happy. do they expect me to speak like i’m something out of the boyz in the hood movie? i grew up in surburbia with educated parents and an educated extended family. WTF!
    14. asking questions about my hair…it’s kind of weird.

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      Yup, this. A friend recently shared this bit of wisdom with me, and I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my own speech/writing: Whatever comes before the “but” in a sentence is almost always meaningless. It’s what comes after that actually holds weight.

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        It’s fun to use this concept in everyday conversation. “I don’t mean to be racist/homophobic/bigotted, but this tea is really good.” Ending with something entirely mundane to emphasise the absurdity of using the phrase.

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    1. (after mentioning my Mexican grandparents don’t have tv)…Is that because they don’t have electricity?

    2. Do Mexicans eat salad?

    The second question was actually from the parents of a girl I had a crush on but wasn’t dating, because I wasn’t out and also we were seven.

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    this is hilarious, just to add my two cents, 21 is my favorite as well

    1. your kenyan, you must have learnt your english here right?
    2. when you came to america the tall buildings, electricity must have freaked you out….
    3.does it bother you not having to wear paint on your face everyday?
    4. i will excuse you because these things are common sense here but might not be where you come from.
    5. your accent, are you jamaican?

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    My parents would never say anything like this and neither would any of my other close family members.

    However, the fun one is when randoms (in social or work settings) say vaguely racist and/or homophobic things…in St. Louis, these statements are usually coded as “that part of the city.” And then they meet my black female fiancee and their eyes get really big and you can see them find a way to exit ASAP.

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    I’m Nigerian-American and dated white girls (I went to Penn State, lmao)

    1.”I bet you agree with Obama about us Pennsylvains riiiight!?!”

    2.”Do happen to speak any African *makes click noises*” They were joking with the click noises but serious about asking if I knew how to speak African.

    3.When talking about Africa they refer it to a country not realizing it’s a big ass continent.

    4.Your general light “white man’s burden” conversation on what they would do to help the “country” of Africa:
    -saying they donate to some Christian charities there
    -Did some/knew someone that did missionary work
    5. “Oh god you don’t happen to scam people on the internet!”

    6. “Wow so articulate and you weren’t born here, amazing!”

    7. “Africans work harder than Black Americans I know a couple of Africans at my work, Blacks can learn something from you guys!” (This was real, I was like oh god)

    Other races(Most were also first-generation which the comments are more messed up back-handed compliments due to negative stereotypes about Black Americans):

    Indian Parent: “I only allow my daughter to hang out with educated Africans no blacks. You’re Nigerian right?”

    Chinese parent: You live in this house! It’s so big! Rich African! This made me lol but still.

    I could go on, my experiences where based on amazement of white parents thinking I was this exception and I was “good enough” to date their son (when they thought I was straight). Parents of other immigrant/first generation were happy to know I was not “black.” Sigh.

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      Flabbergasted! Cannot believe people have said/asked these things to you, where in the blazes is their mind? I’m still shocked by this one:

      2.”Do happen to speak any African *makes click noises*” They were joking with the click noises but serious about asking if I knew how to speak African.

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    My mother is one of these parents who say ridiculous/offensive things. She’s one of those people who is extremely interested in “other cultures” and considers herself “worldly” and therefore asks really stereotypical questions.

    One of my favorites was when she dropped something off at my school for me and left it in my residence hall office because I was in class. I came by to pick it up and one of the R.A.’s (a girl I knew) told me all about how my mother raved about how beautiful the girl’s hair was (she’s Asian) and asked to touch it and then talked about how beautiful Asian hair is in general. I apologized for her. She also likes to ask questions of immigrants about “their country” as she always phrases it.

    She also once asked me if, when lesbian couples get married, they still do the thing they “used to do” where “one is the man and the other is the woman”.

    It’s the worst because she sincerely means well and is interested in learning about other countries/cultures/etc. but just doesn’t have the language to express herself without generalizing and stereotyping. I’ve tried to explain these things to her but she doesn’t seem to get it at all.

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      and this is why most of the times these comments don’t make me angry.

      because i totally get this part of it:

      It’s the worst because she sincerely means well and is interested in learning about other countries/cultures/etc. but just doesn’t have the language to express herself without generalizing and stereotyping.

      I can usually tell the difference when someone is coming from that perspective and when they’re trying to antagonize me into responding to their rhetoric for sport.

      Also, lots of these things have been said to me over a lovely dinner in a beautiful home with people who have hugged me and have no problem with me banging their daughter lol so most of the time it’s a beat, then a lol and then said girl will be like “oh my god mom, stop” or something equally as cute.

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        Yeah she really does mean the best but she just didn’t grow up in an environment that was any sort of diverse. I think this is also evidence that the whole “everyone’s equal so let’s not talk about race” thing doesn’t work. Not talking about race not only allows people to develop stereotypes that remain un-checked but means that when race comes up, people have no idea HOW to talk about it, even in the most basic sense. But yeah, I try to correct her on it as much as I can but sometimes I can tell my explanations just go over her head.

        Even if you know people mean well, I’m sure that shit gets annoying. At least it gives you good stories and you have a sense of humor about it, though.

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      Oh god, and that’s my grandmother right there.

      Before meeting my girlfriend’s half brother I told her his mother is Native American.

      Granny: Native American, what’s that?
      Me: You know, the people originally from America.
      Granny: that’s a lot of people, who do you mean?
      Me: Oh! I think Choctaw? But I’m not sure.
      Granny: Oh! You mean Red Indian!*
      Me: Please, please do not say that to him.

      *In my grandmother’s defense she has never been to America and apparently had a student over here who identified as a Red Indian in the seventies.

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    I know it’s not similar at all, but I have random strangers touch my hair because it’s corkscrew curly. They also ask if I’m Jewish. (I’m not)
    I’d like to think my dad wouldn’t say anything like these, but I’m not so sure about my mom or stepdad. And I am so sorry.

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    I don’t get #16… Also, I’m sure it’s not the same, but people make that comment about curly hair to me all the time. “Is it natural?” “Is it real?” “I’d kill to have that.” It’s kind of embarrassing, but not bad. People never seem to like their own hair. They always want someone else’s, it seems. :P

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      yeah I get that too, can’t say it particularly bothers me though, I just don’t quite understand the fascination with it lol. My friends also find it highly entertaining to convince people that im Jewish before I meet them, I have to give credit to one though, last year he convinced his brother (after me knowing my friend for four years and visiting his house numerous times) that I was Jewish.

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    I’m Australian-born German and I have a very German last name that makes people say “where is that from” if not “oh, you’re German”

    You’d be surprised how often parents and grandparents get into that awkward ‘don’t mention the war’ and of course say things that are offensive or just plain dumb.

    “Are you really ashamed of what your country did?”

    “I flew over Germany when I was with the RAAF”

    “you’re really uptight, oh right its because you’re German”

    Or when people find out that on the other side of my family tree I’m descended from Polish Jews.

    “wow, you’re German and Jewish, thats like you want to kill… yourself”

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      As another Polish/German gal, I get that last one ALL THE TIME.

      I also get “Oh you can’t be Polish and German, they hate each other right? Your mom must not realize she’s not German.” [because I tend towards the Polish side of the family in my looks.]

      “You look Jewish. Are you Jewish?” and “Wow, you must be in med school right?” And when I answer with ‘no, not Jewish, no, not in med school. I’m an art student.’ That seems to really confuse people.

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        “wow, you’re German and Jewish, thats like you want to kill… yourself”

        “Oh you can’t be Polish and German, they hate each other right?”

        …wow. Just wow. Those kill me. o.O

        I too am of German and Polish descent (along with Irish, Hungarian, and Italian), with a German surname. (A very unusual one at that, having four letters and only one vowel at the beginning…it gets misspelled and mispronounced more often than not, although the pronunciation is JUST the way it’s spelled, no tricks. xD)

        Anyway, all I can say is that I’m glad I’ve never received such facepalm-inducing remarks…most often, people just express interest and surprise at my being such a “Euro-mutt.” The Irish is the easiest to guess by my looks (green eyes, red hair, pale as can be), even though it’s not the largest part.

        And my hair (while my experience is obviously not quite the same as the OP’s) is super-thick and corkscrew-curly and bright red (basically looks just like Merida’s from Brave, or Bernadette Peters’.) While people don’t tend to just touch it without my permission, it attracts plenty of looking and staring, and I have gotten just about every question/comment/compliment imaginable–including #14, all the time, almost verbatim. And everything Samantha above mentioned. xD
        Amusingly…I remember this one middle school recess battle my friends and I were engaged in against some other group of jerks, back in the days when my hair was still growing into a gigantic clown wig-effect on a regular basis…and the worst insult they were able to come up with for me was, “You…should go cut your hair!”

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    I am a mixture of Native American, Greek, and European, so most take me as a white person, but on more than one occasion, I’ve had people who just met me ask if I’m Asian or half-Asian because “your skin is kind of yellow.”

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      I know this is way later, but for people like me who read these comments way later…

      I had inlaws that I had to explain my grandmother’s brown-ness, and different language. I told them “she was speaking Portuguese.” “That’s like… asian yes?” “No, not really.” “But you tan really yellow, and your hair is so coarse and black, and that kinda sounds like Chinese.” To which my granmother-in-law interjected “Are you commies? I think you need to leave.”

      They still think my family is Asian and Communist. No hope for them.

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    my friends dad asked her if she’s converting to islam after they met me (assumedly her only nonwhite friend theyve met)

    Can I just mention that I was a hijab-less 13 year old girl with purple bangs and a halfro?
    (not that that question would have been at all logical if I wasnt)

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    #14 = my life. Before she had even met me, one mom found out I was mixed and asked her, “ooh, does she have kinky hair?”
    Also from others: “I’m sorry, I don’t know how to cook soul food, so I hope you like this pasta.” and “you look so light, you could pass if you wanted”

    Thank you for this.

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    The panel was awesome, as was your poem. This list is killing me! Where do these people come from? My mom would probably say something mildly offensive/ impossible like “oh thank god I don’t want my grand-kids to be pale like Lindsey.” I’m not sure my mom understands procreation.

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    My friend’s parents are from Vietnam, and she was born and raised in Portland Oregon. Her boyfriend’s aunt once asked her “So, what do people where you’re from think of that?” in reference to something (breastfeeding, I think). She raised one eyebrow and said “People from Portland? I don’t know. I haven’t asked them all.” Perfect answer.

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      That reminds me of this ethnicly Pakistani guys response to the BNP’s proposal that non white people be paid to move back to where they came from. He said “Brilliant because I’ve always wanted to go back to Manchester.”

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    “I don’t want to tell you what I think cilantro tastes like. I don’t want to offend you.”

    Wasn’t a parent, but that memory is still seared into my brain.

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    “You’re full siblings? But you look so ~different~.”
    “Oh, you’re mother’s Israeli! That makes sense about your brother then…” Uh, no, that’s from dad’s (Mixed European/American Indian) side, my mother is Ashkenazi not Sephardic. There’s a difference.
    “How come only Jews are allowed to tell a Jewish jokes but it’s politically incorrect for me to do the same?”
    (In college) “Oh, your mother’s from Israel? No offense, but I totally disagree with the occupation.” (Oh yeah, cause I’m automatically a raging Zionist, right?)

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    I’m irish, so it’s not really the same thing but in my time dating people of other backgrounds I’ve had some weird stuff said to me by parents.

    – “What do you call those things on your skin? Freckles? Oh in our language we call them fly shit…. Lol”

    – Wow, how did you learn to eat curry?” (i was raised eating curry, and it’s not a skill)

    -“You guys don’t really have your own language..you’re lying.”

    -“So are you going to have a buddhist wedding because you don’t have your own culture?” (that one was a cousin, not a parent)

    – “Oh I thought you were going to be one of those white girls that acts black” (whatever that means)

    -“do you even know where nigeria is?”

    Plus the old reliable constant ridicule of my accent…

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    #1 is my fucking go-to for things white people have told me.

    Also.

    “Hey guys…there’s going to be an EXCITING trip to the Civil War museum. You know it wasn’t all just about slavery.”

    Fucking Tennessee, man.

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    One time my grandma was talking about something from when I was a little kid. We were at a hotel pool and I was just playing with the kids that were around, you know like kids do. But she said, “remember that one time you played so well with that black girl at the pool”. I was just so confused about why she sounded like it was unexpected, and why she had to add in the black part. She was just a girl at the pool, and grandma had to go and make it a race thing.

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    I’m half hispanic (and both halves are pretty damn pale), so my favorite things are what people say when they DON’T know I’m hispanic.

    “… Mexican? Why on earth would you think I look *drops into that whisper white people use when they’re being racist* like one of them?”

    and, of course:
    “what do you mean you can’t dance?”

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    Oh. My. Goodness. After being a dedicated follower of Autostraddle for like… Ever… I finally officially signed up for an account today so I could comment on this post! I laughed, cried, and mostly just got angry. It’s just so UNBELIEVABLY believable! Ugh.

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    Walking in the grocery store and I get stopped by an elderly white woman. She goes on to tell me how she likes my hair (braids) and how do I sleep with it. I was soo confused I just smiled and nodded.

    Then my niece’s father is Mexican and white while her mother (my sister) is African American. Well she doesn’t look African American at all so I get asked all the time
    *who is that white baby with you?(AA)
    *why are you walking around with an Asian baby?(AA)
    *atleast her hair isn’t like yours(W)
    *Her mother should really teach her Spanish it’s her duty (they think her mother is Mexican and father Black) Me: my sister’s Black…her dad’s mexican. Them: soooo …Me: yes he left and he wasn’t black (M)

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    I have gotten the ‘oh you have no accent’ many many times. I was born in Mexico but grew up in Oklahoma.

    I get ‘How many kids do you have?”, I have pretty much have gotten asked this repeatedly since I was 16.

    I get the ‘you speak Mexican right?’ and I go ‘no I speak Spanish’, and they go well same thing, and I go ‘no I speak the language and am the race’. People just stare and me like they don’t comprehend gah ignorance.

    Also I get the ‘do you celebrate Cinco the Mayo,its Mexico’s Independence Day, I bet you have a big party huh?’ This question annoys the crap out of me! Cinco the Mayo was just a battle fought and won against the French in Puebla and is not Mexico’s Independence Day. Its independence day is September 16th. Cinco De Mayo is just a Day for people in the US to drink and pretend like they care about the Mexican heritage.

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        texas, a country, made up a holiday called “fiesta” which is supposed to commemorate the battles of the alamo and san jacinto, both of which were turning points in the texas revolution. the texas revolution was fought between the Mexican gov’t and the settlers of texas, many of whom were of Mexican decent. (the only heroes of the texas revolution we ever heard about in school, fyi, were white dudes.)

        Really, fiesta is a thing where they crown 24 duchesses and a queen in front of the whole city — every single one a rich, white girl from my old town.

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    FUN!

    1. No, you’re white.

    2. But you have light skin… is your mother american?

    3. Oh, so you’re white cause she’s german polish.

    4. Your ARAB grandmother had natural blue eyes and blonde hair? I don’t think so.

    5. Are you sure she is Arab?

    6. No, you are just a British woman trying to pretend you are Arab so your husband doesnt beat you. (yes, really.)

    7. So your grandfather… died in a bomb? (uh…. no. On vacation to Makkah for pilgrimage, he died of heart disease cause he smoked more than a chimney in Alaska.)

    8. No, you’re not arab, you’re white.

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    My favorite story was in college I was at a party, I was a freshman so people were asking where I was from and I’d say “Mexico” and this girl didn’t believe me. She was talking about me like “She is NOT from Mexico, I know everyone from Mexico and she is not from there” LOL I was like “You know the whole country?” She thought I meant Mexico, NY. Why would I lie and say I was from some tiny town I’ve never even heard of? Poor thing.

    I grew up in Central NY so sometimes I would say I was from Ithaca and other times I would say I was from Mexico, cause they’re both true, and another girl, who is still one of my dearest friends but I had to call her out on her bullshit on this one, was also hating on me in the beginning of freshman year because she thought I would switch where I was from depending on how convenient it would be, socially. I was like, when is it ever convenient to be Mexican? – name 5 scenarios. I wanna say she mentioned something about J-Lo, but admittedly we were at a party, beer was involved and my memory gets fuzzy at this point.

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      So, when you posted this… I was confused for a moment because it never crossed my mind that I was white and you were not. Racism is sad. I am sure I have made inquiries about other people/cultures that sounded less then intelligent – I hope that those I may have offended realized I was attempting to educate myself. Anyhoo, as a White Person(yay! what a hard earned privilege!)I can honestly say sometimes the issue is imagined and brought to light by the race in question. I have had issues with people in the past that have nothing to do with their race but they bring it up before it ever crossed my mind. (Whites get profiled too.)

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    I’m suddenly really glad of a few things.

    1. That my mom doesn’t know I like girls yet.
    2. That my mom never found out I was dating my now-ex-girlfriend for the entire duration of that relationship.
    3. That I actually talked about my then-girlfriend at home before my mom met her, so my mom already knew that although she is Mexican, she grew up in America, is from a good family, and is even an honors student.

    I was able to avoid awkwardness whenever she visited, except when sometimes my brother said stupid racist things, but it’s actually pretty easy to ignore him when spending time with a cute girl.

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      by saying “although she is Mexican” and then listing positive things about your ex, the implication is that the two things are at odds with each other.

      “although she is Mexican… she is from a good family, and is even an honors student.”

      like, considering she’s mexican, you wouldn’t expect her to be from a good family or be an honors student, but surprise, she is!

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        I think she meant that those are stereotypes her mom has that her mom would have expected the girlfriend to fit if she hadn’t told her mom all of those things about her girlfriend ahead of time. That’s my take, at least.

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    I know it’s not quite the same, but since being in Australia, I’m English, I’ve heard some gems.

    ‘Do you feel stupid that your country sent all their criminals over here and now you want to live here?’
    ‘Does England have summer, or is it just autumn and winter’
    ‘Are you so pale because it rains so much’ I never did quite understand that one. (I’m not pale now.. tanned!)
    ‘Have you met The Queen or any of the Princes?’

    It makes me giggle.

    My friend from back home, Mum is Jamaican and Dad is black English, used to send me texts when people said stupid shit to her like
    ‘You’d think living in England your skin colour would change’
    ‘I bet you love smoking pot and listening to bob Marley’ (she hates both).

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    There are a lot of people that need to educate themselves. Most of these, the ones that said/asked these nonsensical and offensive things, were probably in unicorn land during their school days instead of paying attention. So much prejudice.

    Aside from my mini rant this post and the comments made me laugh, from that sheer ridiculousness of the questions.

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      somehow i don’t think paying attention in school helps to lessen prejudice that much, given how biased a lot of education systems are. pretty sure there a lot of people who payed plenty of attention and are still dumb. i think i learned more about the world from the internet than from school.

      it bums me out how many people i know who just say shit all the time and think its perfectly okay. i try to call people out on things but apparently i’ve done it too much cause it just makes people roll their eyes at me now…

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    This is more general parents, specifically the parents of my white friend who may or may not have allowed me to conviently rest my head upon her boobs while waiting for paint to dry in the dining room where her parents may have witnessed that scenario.
    – “I don’t understand why Hispanics need to validate that they are not white as if they’re not American. We lived in Japan and we don’t claim to be Japanese.”
    -“What does Hispanic even mean?”
    -“Race does exist (me: no it doesn’t it’s an institutional structure made up by society that ends with people being judged based on physical features) Yes there are 3 races.”
    -“(to my friend: One Million Moms is boycotting JC Penny mainly because Ellen is gay) NO!!! They are boycotting because they don’t want the commericials to become a platform to discuss gay rights, that’s why she has a show. I don’t mind gay people (I was clearly confused on if she knew I was gay) but I do not believe it should be advertised through commercials. She has a show to do what she wants. (coincidentally I found it odd this mom was ok with Ellen dressing in old western clothes but they were a “cowboy’s” clothes).”
    -“What do you consider yourself? (Hispanic or Mexican descent) Oh. Well I think Hispanic shouldn’t be treated as a race it’s only an ethnicity.”
    -“So do you speak Spanish and celebrate Mexican traditions? (some, since my grandfather died I didn’t want a 15). Oh, how did he die?”
    -“I don’t mind you I just think some Hispanics or Latinos whatever they’re called behave unnecessarily.”
    -“Have you been to Mexico? (yes) reccently? (no, our family asked us not to visit due to the drug wars)”
    -“Are any family members gang members? (yeah actually there are a couple but the coolest was my grandma’s brother who was this massive cocaine dealer until he couldn’t pay off the cops anymore due to being arrested way too many times… Oh yeah my family is telemundo novela worthy!)”
    -“oh you’re Catholic but you’re also gay? Is you’re family okay with that? Does your whole family know? I heard that Mexicans and especially catholic Mexicans do not like gays… (I have 3 other cousins who are gay…)”
    -“We consider you white. Does your birth certificate say white? I bet it does!” this had to be a personal favorite from that night because when I talked about it with my sociology professor he was like “woah they basically said that in their house they consider you white and you are considered one of them. Interesting..”
    Honestly my friend’s parents helped me realize I have a huge amount of self control because especially when the mom was talking about OMM vs Ellen I was going to blow a fuse and rant how why can’t homosexuality be portrayed on tv when I get heterosexuality shoved down my throat all day, but I refrained for my friend’s sake.

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        I got told yesterday that my friend and I and most of the people at the pagan festival we were at weren’t pagans because what pagan meant was a crazy stupid person who hates christians and our actual religious beliefs were irrelevent. And that we had to respect his beliefs because he respected ours so we had to stop arguing with him about what the word meant. Off topic for this post but relevant to your comment I think.

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        At this point I reminded them that you will find Latinos who are blonde hair – blue eyed people. I felt so out of place and got really uncomfortable but stuck to it just for my friend and her physics grade.

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      “I don’t understand why Hispanics need to validate that they are not white as if they’re not American. We lived in Japan and we don’t claim to be Japanese.”

      What does that even mean?

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        Exactly! This all happened in one night because I was helping my friend do her physics project and I swear the questions they would state was something I never really experienced! I went home and my mom’s only response was “please tell me you kept cool and respected them in their home?” The we accept you as white was really offensive because I’m proud of who I am. Shit parents/people in general say sometimes truly makes me wonder how, as a nation, we can one step forward and feel like we are taking ten back.

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    Am I too late to join in?
    My parents meeting my Swedish born part Mexican part Gypsy girlfriend: “Wow, she’s…. really brown. Are you sure she’s actually from Europe?” Translation: “Don’t all Latinos travel on fake passports?”

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    My pre-school teacher once said ” You spanish people like to eat tacos so eat it or you can leave for recess” I have no Idea how I remember it but I do. But she was a very nice teacher though

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    This doesn’t particularly annoy me but people often give a knowing look. Then they raise the eyebrows and say, “Ah yes……………. The Lebanon”.

    This has happened to me about 50 times. So weird.

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      I get that one too! Also:

      1. You sounded like a white girl on the phone. If I had never met you I’d think you were white.

      2. You aren’t like most black kids. It’s like you’re only black on the outside.

      3. (When I wanted to grow my afro) Yes, I know relaxers are bad for your body, but why wouldn’t you want straight shiny hair? Also, you’ll never look professional enough for a job with one. Why not just get a weave?

      4. Is that weave? Is it made of horse tail hair? I think they lied to you at the store: I read that weave is made of horse tail hair.

      5. How much of your hair is real?

      6. You’re afro looks like a brillo pad, can I touch it?

      7. Have you ever dated anyone in a gang? Are you in a gang? Are your friends? I don’t want my daughter involved in a gang.

      8. You have really pretty knees. Do you have to scrub them with bleach to keep them that color? (WTF????)

      9. Do you know how to read?

      10. Oh so you’re family is Cajun? (no, we’re creole) But you’re from Louisiana right? You should make me jambalaya/red beans & rice/chitlins/collard greens, I bet you know all the secrets.

      11. You’ve never been to Africa? Ever?

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    i don’t know if i like getting these questions or not, but here are a few

    t: “oh, wow! you have no accent at all! how long have you lived in this country?”
    m: “22 years”
    t: “that’s a long time. how old are you?”
    m:”22…”
    t: “oh sorry! i just thought that….”(trails off into explanation while i’m dying of laughter)

    t:”you speak english so fluently! and your writing is really good!”
    m: “well, i used to be an english major, so i hope i picked something up”
    t; “oh you went to college!?”

    mostly i just like to laugh at how uncomfortable people get when they realize what they said is soo racist. one time though, i was over my neighbor’s house and i remember her mom asked me if my family was here legally. i was 11 and had no idea what that meant so i said “uhh, i don’t know, let me ask my mom.” lol she freaked out “oh no no no no, that’s okay you don’t have to ask her”

    stuff like this does make me mad to a certain extent, but since i live in a small town i know that people are just ignorant, so it doesn’t bug me as much. what makes it even more blatantly obvious though is that our cousins who live next door don’t ever have to deal with these questions because they are really pale skinned. (we joke that it’s because they don’t like going out in the sun; actually that’s contributes to it) they just get the “no way your family is mexican” thing all the time

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    The best one that ever happened to me is when I was out with a friend of mine who I used to hook up with and her dad talked about lesbians, not knowing I mainly identify as one and that his daughter has had some experiences with it. Her and I just looked at each other like “If he only knew…”

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    Not all from parents, just white folks in general.

    1) We think of you as white!
    2) Do you cook your own curry?
    3) So what religion were your parents brought up? (Christian. Yes, really.)
    4) Variations on assuming my parents to be more homophobic than average.

    Aaaaand, best till last:
    4) Was your father a terrorist?

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    I’m white. I’ve had a few Hispanic girlfriends. Once at Christmas, my uncle told a racist joke concerning Mexicans. My girlfriend calmly pointed out, “My last name is Rivera.” I thought she was fabulous for shutting up my uncle and making him backpedal away from his obviously racist misstep (he thought she was white).

    Oddly, my mom argued with me that my girlfriend was a bitch for doing that. She said it showed disrespect to me and my family. She didn’t seem to consider the idea that my uncle (and my family for enabling him) had been fundamentally disrespectful to my girlfriend.

    Her cultural and ancestral identity were seen as less important than preserving a bunch of white people’s comfortable illusion that they aren’t racist.

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        I had a sociology teacher who said the racism you want it aversive because when the person who is being racist doesn’t realize it, you can grant them the benefit of the doubt that the racism was unintentional but that we should worry when any other type of racism, such as traditional where the person is intentionally being racist, because it’s intentional and there is no benefit of the doubt. Here’s the thing, someone may truly believe they’re not racist due to many reasons especially when they simply believe they’re being funny.

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    My parents tend to be decent if a bit out of touch when it comes to race (they are very old), but they are SO homophobic (as are most of my siblings). I’ve had a sister actually tell me to my face that people aren’t born gay because god wouldn’t be that cruel. And even though I’m out to my family, it’s a subject no one acknowledges unless they are angry. Oh, and my sisters have all told me that they don’t trust me around their kids.

    I’m never introducing a girlfriend to my family. I won’t put someone I love through that hell.

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    To my girlfriend from Venezuela, “What’s it like there? Are there kidnappings and guns everywhere?” What is awful is that her stepdad had been kidnapped before – as a Swiss expat making money off the country. There is so much to every question and so many possible triggers when adding any kind of qualifier. I coached my mom to simply say, “Tell me about yourself,” when getting to know my girlfriends. Leave off the qualifiers.

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      I’ve gotten that before, too. My mom says she always imagined me marrying a guy from a different country. Why? I don’t know. Because it would make her seem more interesting to have a son-in-law from a different country? I guess I’m failing her on both counts by dating a white American girl. :)

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    My personal favourite comment by White parents was when I was 13 and my best friend said “Hey, my mum thinks your mum speaks English really well.” Me:”Spanish does not mean illiterate. She was born here, genius.”

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      oh geeze, I just got back from living in Colombia and I swear people never tire of asking me if I was dealing drugs or if my (ex)gf can “dance like Shakira.” Someone asked if she called me “papi”—dude, we met in Portland. Peeeoplllle.

      (sidenote: she is a short little queerio, basically the opposite of Shakira.)

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    I’m Nigerian/American
    – “How long have you been in the US?” (was born here)
    – “How do you say your last name again” (the same person has asked me this at least 25 times.)
    – You’re from Africa so you can you speak Click right? (That’s not a language)
    -OMG “Coming to America” is soooo funny.
    -“Can you talk to animals?”

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    you guise, i am so happy this comment thread exists! i really didn’t wanna offend anyone and i’m glad so far, no one seems offended.

    these things are said and they happen and it’s not always the end of the world. i am so pleased that you’re sharing all your WTF moments. i have snarfed more liquids reading all of them than ya’ll even really want to know.

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      THIS HAS BEEN THERAPEUTIC!! I find myself raging less or using that rage energy for more productive things like watching kitten videos instead to stewing in misanthropic hatred.

      I LOVE YOU EVER-Y-EVER FOR THIS!

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    1. Are both your parents Jewish? (yes)
    2. But then, are all your grandparents Jewish(yes)
    3. Wait, so if you’re Jewish, why don’t you have dark hair/a big nose/curly hair? You can’t really be Jewish with green eyes and light brown hair.(clearly, I can be)
    4. So your family is, like, really rich then?(um, no?)
    5. So did all your family die in the holocaust (um, no, I think maybe 1 small bit of my grandma’s family tree did, but most of my family were already in Britain by then)
    6. No offense, but I think the way you occupy the settlements is really outrageous, those poor Palestinians. (I’ve never been to Israel, and being Jewish doesn’t automatically mean you support every action of the Israeli government/defence forces)

    Just a few random comments I’ve had made to me when I refer to being Jewish in conversation. It’s sad how often these comments come from people who consider themselves to speak in a politically correct way – and yet don’t see these things to be anti-semitic. grrrr

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    Asian family moves to dominantly white town. Innocent child wanders down street to meet new kids. First question she’s asked, legit, is “Do you know kung fu?”

    Even four-year-old-me narrowed my eyes at that one. (Haha! Joke’s on me, I can’t narrow my eyes, they’re already “really slitty.”)

    Also asked questions:
    Have you eaten dog?

    Where are you from? (Texas.) No, where are you REALLY from?

    When did you move to this country?

    How did you learn to speak English so well?

    Usually when people try to play the country-of-origin guessing game with me, I just stay silent to make them keep guessing all the Asian countries they can think of until they trail off in embarrassment. Fortunately, this never takes long, since after “China. Japan. Korea. North Korea,” they have to stop. The “North Korea” guess just kills me.

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    “Wow! You and your brother are both at Ivy League schools? AND you guys are from Colombia? How did you do that? Is your family just super proud?”

    yes, my family is super proud, just like other families of any color and from anywhere in the world who have kids who make them proud. i just hate the “AND you’re from Colombia” part, it’s like: “you’re inferior yet you made it!”

    “From Colombia? So you’re on a scholarship, right? No? Is your father a drug dealer?” yes, it’s the only profession in the country… sigh

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    i forgot the worst one “you don’t really seem mexican/hispanic/etc., i don’t know what it is. you’re just not the same as them.” ……ummm what the hell does that even mean it’s usually followed by ” yeah, i totally thought you were italian/samoan/filipino/spanish” it’s always those 4, weirdly enough.

    i don’t get it. is it my love for electro, nutella, and wear vibrams? is it because i don’t like burritos and salsa makes my tum tum noisy? is it because i say words like tum tum?

    sorry guys, just venting after getting this again today

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    #23 reminds me of when I was on a trip in Los Angeles and I was in the car with my parents and my dad said “This is a bad area–there are Spanish-speaking people in this neighborhood.” I’m not out to my dad nor have I ever dated any person of color but my best friend is a POC and I was fuming when he said that. Growing up, I always remember him talking about how impressed he was with black people that sounded “white”. I could hear my dad saying #1, #12, #17, and #24.

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    Ha, this is great. I always get things about my mum being a single parent and me and my brother having differentt dads. They pat me on the arm and say things like ‘poor you’. It’s fucking annoying and I genuinely once have been asked ‘So is that why you’re a lesbian because your dad left?’ WTFF.

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    Shit I have said to women of color:

    “wow! you don’t even have an accent! like, I had no idea.”
    “but you can do so many fun things with your hair!”
    “your dad works for the border patrol? and you’re Mexican?!”
    “can you talk to me in Spanish? cause I really need to practice”
    “but isn’t anything based on race racist? Isn’t affirmative action is racist?”

    and I am sure there are many, many more I don’t remember… thank god college happened

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    What white parents have said to me (I’ve never dated anyone, but this is for friends and the like) and I’m white…

    1. “So what church do you go to?” Asked when I was, like, five.I didn’t even know what to say. (I was raised nonreligious in a lovely suburban WASP town. Whee…)

    2.”You’re so…quiet for a white girl.”

    3. “You ever consider the concept of white supremacy?”

    4. “Wow! I’d think you were a black girl from the waist down if I didn’t know better.”

    5. “You’d look so cute dating a nice white boy.” Uhm… 6_6…NOPE

    6. “Jeez, I didn’t know my daughter’s friend was an Asian in disguise.” Everybody I get to know calls me Asian-at-heart, like EVERYONE. Since I was a little kid. I still don’t quite get it.

    7. “It’s so nice to see a full-white girl. It’s kids like you that give me hope for the future.”

    8. “A pretty girl like you should just find a wholesome boy and focus on having at least six children when you grow up. Gotta keep up with those Mexicans!”

    I live in the Bay Area. For the love of…I can’t even escape the racists here. And don’t even get me started on what Asian parents say to me (or rather, behind my back.) And my friends wonder why I’m not exactly fond of being white. I lol’d at a lot of the previous posts, though. There were some really good ones.

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        Eh. Here and there. I’ve pretty much lived all over the Bay throughout my life. I have noticed that there are quite a few Asians, but then again, that makes sense. Most of the second generation ones are cool and don’t really have a problem with me; it’s just their parents.

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    This is genuinely shocking…(Generally, of course) people have not been this overt in the LA suburbs since the mid to late 1990’s. Usually the only people who talk like this list are recent transplants from other parts of the country, and they learn pretty quickly to button it up. G-d knows what anybody says in private though.

    I’m so sorry I missed the queer women of color panel. I was too hungover to come. I hope you have another.

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    HoooooooKay! I hear ya. I don’t know if my exes parents were more upset that we were lezzies or that I was a black woman from New Mexico and didn’t fit into their cookie-cutter “Hamptons” race and class ideals. I can really relate to #s 1, 9, 18, and 25. Here are some of my own:

    1. [Re being from NM but not speaking Spanish] Brother asks: It must have been really hard for you there.

    2. [Assuming I spoke Spanish because I look Spanish and am from NM] When did you learn English? When did you come to the United States?

    3. You speak so well!

    4. You look like Vanessa Williams, Lisa Bonet, Halley Barry, etc.

    5. [Referring to my old hairstyle...braids] You should get a more professional hair style.

    6. Can I touch your hair? Is it real? Why is it so kinky? Have you tried hot oil?

    7. If private golf clubs don’t want to let Tiger play there, it is their prerogative. It’s private after all. What do you think?

    8. [Re exes mom being a professor and starting a program of educating students from Africa] I’m having a dinner this weekend for our new African exchange students. You should come since you’ll have a lot in common.

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    From fellow students:
    ‘Does she speak English?’ (to the the girl next to me)
    Then
    ‘Do you speak African?’ (to me)

    From a teacher:
    ‘Did you understand what I just said? (yes) ‘OK, repeat it back to me’

    From the woman who became my MIL:
    ‘Did you know that different races have different skull shapes? It’s true. That’s why Indian people like Indian music, even though to us it sounds discordant. Their skull is a different shape, so the sound resonates differently in the skull cavity.’

    From the grandparents of my partner, to his mum, when she told them we were getting married:
    ‘Warn him that the government is cracking down on Nigerians getting married to get citizenship’ We had been together 8 years at that point; I was raised in Zimbabwe, not Nigeria; and I’ve been a British citizen since birth.

    While with my daughter in various shops:
    ‘Oh, she’s your daughter? Does she look *very* like her dad?’

    While walking out of a shop:
    Daughter: Thanks mum!
    Woman walking in: Is she your *daughter*? (staring at my daughter’s blue eyes and waist-length, fair hair)
    Me: Yes
    W: Are you Italian?
    Me: No
    W: Spanish?
    Me: No
    W: Portuguese?
    Me: No. I’m mixed race. African and white.
    W: (looking appalled, stepping backwards and staring from me to my daughter) African?!! Really?

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    Oh, and let’s not forget hair issues:

    My (biracial) mother:
    ‘Are you really… *comfortable*… with your hair like that? (i.e. loose and untreated)

    Lout on the Tube (London Underground train):
    ‘Oh look! It’s Bob Marley’s daughter!’

    People patting or tugging at my hair unexpectedly from behind, because they just *need* to feel it, and who needs permission before pawing a complete stranger anyway?

    My sister was at a University event with a housemate she hadn’t known for long.
    Housemate: Does your hair *smell* like a sheep when it’s wet, too?

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    1. So, where did you and your parents go on vacation together when you were growing up? [The answer = nowhere. We didn't have the money, and my parents divorced when I was 5]

    2. Have you read the new …. ? [the assumption that everyone has leisure time and reads -or even wants to read- all the latest in fiction]

    3. You’re Sicilian? Uh-oh, I better not mess with you or I’m gonna get whacked [mafia reference]

    4. You’re Sicilian? Like the pizza?

    5. You’re from Brooklyn? But you don’t even have an accent.

    6. Your parents have Brooklyn accents? I would never have guessed that, you speak so well!

    7. Considering what your parents are like, it’s INCREDIBLE to see how you turned out.

    8. Is that your real hair, or a wig? It’s so thick. [I've also had hairstylists tell me that my hair is really thick and they don't want to blow dry it... and also have had people at beauty salons that they can't pluck my eyebrow hair because it's too thick. Both have blamed me for making their days terrible!]

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    Hoo boy ! some of this made me laugh so hard I blew coffee out my nose and some of it made just roll my eyes clear back in my head. Shades of my own parents! I am hopelessly white, but also queer as little green horses, so I have gotten some real interesting questions from other people’s parents myself. My own most dumbfounding moment came from my own mother once many years ago, as I sat by the record player looking at the album cover of Harry Belafonte’s first record. I said, in all innocence,”He is a really good looking man.” My mother’s instant response was “NO, HE’S NOT!!!” At first I just sat there looking at his gorgeous face and thought what a totally blind yell that was. It took me a few seconds to realize that what she meant was “He’s black, and therefore cannot be handsome.” I still remember that all too clearly and how much it did not compute in my head. *sigh* There’s nothing quite like growing up in a Deep South white family……

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    When I told an acquaintance that my fiance was Latin American, he said “You just have Latin fever.” I thought it was a joke, and then I realized it was definitely not a joke. I couldn’t even wrap my head around that statement, did he think I was going to be like “Oh thanks for the diagnosis, I had no idea! I’ll be getting a prescription for that ASAP.”

    Also my grandmother always referred to my spouse as my “friend,” (How does that work? Do I get to be life partners with all my friends? Or do I only get one friend because polygamy is illegal? HELP ME GRANDMA I DON’T GET IT.) She also said I should be worried about Latino men because they control and beat their spouses :( Luckily she never had a chance to say that in front of him.

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