My White Privilege as a Mixed Woman

I have dealt with the internal conflict of my race ever since I started public school. This is my story and struggle with figuring out what I am and who I am.


Turning 18 has its milestones: voting, buying lottery tickets, and of course filling out loads of paperwork due to, you know, being an adult and having responsibilities. You fill out your name, gender, and that section: your ethnicity. I never really understood what I was supposed to put since my mom or dad would always fill these kinds of things out. What did they put me as? Now as a mini-adult, I have questions to consider. If I pick white, will I be judged due to my skin being ‘too dark’ to be Caucasian? Do I get benefits if I pick Hispanic, or do I lose benefits due to that choice?

As a child, I never felt connected to either ‘ethnic answer/choice’ of my family. My family wasn’t strict with culture; it wasn’t really something I focused on. Yet, over the years, I have found more comfort in my Mexican background since I have darker skin compared to my peers and have been trying to learn Spanish. Of course I don’t ignore my white side; it saves me from so much. People don’t follow me in stores thinking I’m stealing, unlike they have done to my Mexican family. In my experience, my word is taken more seriously than those with darker skin or thicker accents. I have white privilege and I recognize it. 

White privilege doesn’t only apply to those who are fully white, but also to those who are half white or have someone connected to them that’s white. My mother is a first generation Mexican woman with darker skin. One time at the doctor’s office she struggled to find someone to help her with an appointment. When my white father walked in, people assumed he needed a separate appointment and jumped to help him with warm smiles. Smiles quickly turned to shock when they realized he was her husband. Things like this now happen to my partner, who is also a dark skinned Mexican. At times, he asks me to talk for him due to the fear that people won’t give him the same respect or humanly treatment as they would someone like me, whose skin is lighter. 

As said before, my mother has darker skin and is often times even profiled as black. She has experienced many issues succeeding due to her race, but she still proves to be a hardworking, outspoken Hispanic women. She’s not afraid to put someone in her place, and people tend to not like that sort of thing. In Mexican culture, women are supposed to be quiet, do the housework, and follow the man’s lead. Instead, she works in the back of a store checking in everything the store has and acts as the lead. Many people take one look at her and see someone they don’t need to respect, but instead a woman who doesn’t know her place. This leads to many people making it clear that she’ll never be taken seriously by them, constantly challenging her judgement.

Guess who had the lead in that department before my mother? My father, a white male, who got anything he wanted done in an instant. If he requested something be done, “Yes sir!” was the excited answer his workers gave. My father does not think white privilege exists; he thinks it’s a made up term to make white people feel bad about their race. “You don’t know what it’s like to feel ashamed of your race” my White father said to my Mexican mother, a woman whose skin color has determined how much respect she deserves her entire life. But of course, according to a white man, she couldn’t possibly know what that feels like.

The Presidential Election of 2016 was a very emotional time for everyone. The Mexican side of my family faced unimaginable hatred during Donald Trump’s presidency. It generally caused a rift in my family due to the fact that my father supported Trump. This was around my last few years of middle school. I was always outside playing and enjoying my 12-year old life, so of course my skin got a little darker due to tanning. This became a fear for my mother; she was worried that people would target my brother and I because of our Mexican features getting more and more prominent. A mother should never have to worry that their children may experience the same conflicts of society that they faced due to their race. Many family members of ours had faced strong racism, such as being yelled at to speak English, being called dirty, and even being threatened to be deported. I have been told to “go back to where I came from,” which confused me as someone who was born in Arizona.

So much fear was put into the hearts of many whom weren’t white. Newsweek reported, “The FBI’s annual reports on hate crime statistics show that hate crimes have increased from 6,121 incidents in 2016 to 7,314 in 2019, a 19.49 percent increase. Hate-motivated murders spiked to a total of 51 in 2019, the highest number in nearly 3 decades, according to an analysis of the FBI’s data conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) at California State University.” My family members weren’t part of the 19.49 percent rise, but this percentage is not just a number; it could be someone you know or love that experiences these unfortunate instances. It’s not just a “once in a while” type of circumstance. It has caused many POC to live in fear that they are next. Sometimes my mother would fearfully leave the house, not knowing if harm would come her way that day. My brother was at college at the time and my mother begged him to not go out at night, worrying he would be a target of hate, not only because of how dark he looked, but also due to his Middle Eastern features. Due to my white passing nature, the only thing I faced was mild verbal hate, such as an occasional hateful glare from a white student who would talk about “those dirty illegals.”

On the day of Trump’s inauguration, my mother looked at me tearfully and said, “I’m so glad you look white.”