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My mom’s Jewish and my dad’s Peruvian. My whole life, I’ve always been the girl who’s white face didn’t quite match my last name.
Because I pass as white, I’m constantly having to prove my Peruvian heritage. I call it “coming out as mixed.”
When I first met my freshman year roommate, we were on a long walk together around our dorm, clicking on how much we had in common. I knew one thing was lingering on her mind though. She was a woman of color but was I? She mentioned going to school with a lot of white students and how difficult that was as a young black girl. Then she got a curious look in her eye, and with some hesitation and raised eyebrows, she asked me — “So, like what are you?”
I can’t deny my whiteness, because that means denying the privileges I have as someone who can pass as white.
What’s difficult for most people to understand is that passing doesn’t automatically make me feel white, nor does being mixed make me feel that I can choose between my identities. They both define me.