“You Sound Like A White Girl”
April 29, 2022
Julissa Arce’s book “You Sound Like a White Girl: The Case for Rejecting Assimilation” NAILED IT! I loved this book because even though I was born in the United States, and am American, this book told my story. I did not know this happens to us all to some degree or another. I was a happy young Mexican-American girl who went to school with a sea of white people. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and pierogies everywhere. I was happy just having these people as my friends, I was a pre-teen and new to the school and neighborhood. I wanted to fit in and my parents wanted that too. I was told not to speak Spanish, not even at home. I had to fit in and be a good girl. It would be the only way that I would be able to make it, to have a chance, and make the American dream come true for me.
Arce is able to weave in and out of this relationship, that those of color crave to be accepted, and that we were able to assimilate accordingly. The most important thing that the author was able to do was to broach the subject of why we want to be white, what pain we take because of wanting the white to rub off, and when or will we ever be really accepted into white America. It seems like I never really knew that I was in the midst of this war, the war between our Latinx and American heritages fighting to be seen as equal. I went to a Catholic private school, my skin is a warm caramel color year-round and I had flowing curly thick hair but I still fit in, or so I thought. I was a novelty. It was good to have a friend of a different race. It also did not hurt that I had six older brothers that the girls all seemed to have crushes on. Blindly I went through life without giving it all a second thought, I was Mexican-American and I never gave it a thought. In all honesty, not every one of my white school friends had me as a friend just because I was Mexican-American. In fact, almost 40 years later I call many of them my friends. We see each other as a family regardless of the color of our skin.
Thankfully Acre takes the reader back and tells our tales. We are given a re-education on the history we should know. I do not say we were intentionally lied to, but we do not have the full story for many things in history. The Latinx stories are varied, the Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Honduran, Spanish, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, Dominican, and so on are all different. But white is just white, right? Arce takes the reader to some very uncomfortable places and asks questions we might not want to be asked. The questions are about examining our own attitudes. Do we make it harder on each other simply because the color of our skin is different from one another? In order to do better, we must learn more. I highly recommend this book, not only to those of Latinx communities but to those that wish to be allies to their Latinx brothers and sisters. Take your time reading this. I ask that you research what you question and make yourself aware of what history really is and not what some want it to be.