On my second major in Spanish: “But you grew up speaking Spanish, didn’t you?"
In response to my service work in Latin America: “And you have family there, right?"
Upon reading the title of my undergraduate scholarship, named for a brilliant and unselfish student from Puerto Rico: “So where are your parents from?"
Despite the fact that I had checked “White”/ “Non-Hispanic” on my application, my deep skin and dark hair invited assumptions that my accomplishments were somehow guided by an identity I never claimed to hold: they believed I was Latina. These interviewers were exclusively white, and their veiled rejection of my self-identity — an identity I thought we shared — made me feel different, ‘other,' and mostly angry.
I was angry that their ignorance and ill-informed assumptions about my ethnicity could belie my privilege as an American-born, native English speaker, and that their narrow, superficial image of Latinx identity could bias their understanding of narratives of self-identifying Latinx students. I ended up at the one school where neither of my interviewers assumed I was Latina. Unironically, both identified as racial or ethnic minorities. I'm sure they get what it's like to feel 'othered.'