Monthly Archives: August 2018

How I answer the question “what are you?”

This is me, brown eyes, light skin and curly hair. To those I call my people, I look like them and to those who don’t know me, I look ambiguous.

 I’ve been working as a waitress for quite some time now and I meet lots of people throughout my week. Since my first week, I’ve been asked the questions “what are you” or “oh you speak Spanish, what are you mixed with” more times that I have cared to count. When people ask me these questions I often want to reply by saying “I’m Spanish” but I know from experience that this is not the answer that they are looking for. The times I have answered with “I’m just Spanish” I receive a look of disbelief that is often followed by comments like “but you don’t look Spanish” or “your hair is so curly” which I sometimes find offensive because not all Spanish speaking people look the same.

I find myself explaining my heritage to random strangers at least five times during the week. I tell people that I am Afro-Caribbean, that my heritage is African, Spanish and Taino and that my looks are the result of years of ethnic groups being mixed together.

Here is the thing though, no matter how many times I get asked those questions or someone mistakes me for being mix with African American and White, I don’t get annoyed or frustrated at them. I look at it as an opportunity to educate people on Latin heritage and why we all look so different. I also don’t mind being confused for biracial because at the end of the day that is exactly who I am. It doesn’t really matter that my biracial happened many generations ago, I’m still the child of different ethnic groups and I love every ounce it.

Leangei Gomez