(OK before I start let me just say that the only reason ‘to’ in the title is not lower case is because I couldn’t remember if ‘be’ should be capitalized or not so I just made them all capitalized and said “to Hell With it”).
So a white friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that she wasn’t white. She’s Jewish. And I’m all, “?!?”. Really. That was my reaction. I guess somewhere along the way, I was supposed to get a memo or something about race that I missed. That’s very possible, because I grew up in a small town in Mississippi where everyone was either Black or White and someone might have assumed we all “got it” and threw out the memo. The small town I grew up in was about half and half of each. Several people in my class said that they were part Indian (Native American), but they all looked White to me. We didn’t have any interesting races, no Asian, Indian (continental), Middle Eastern, or Inuits. Heck we didn’t get our first Latino until I was in High School. I was jealous of him. He was popular and had a mustache. A mustache in High School! That’s better than a car. No really! At least half of my senior class could give someone a car ride, but only one guy … well, you fill in the joke.
I’m half Portuguese, a quarter English, and a quarter Scotch Irish. I always thought Scotch Irish meant someone from Scotland met up with someone from Ireland and made little mixed-bloods. In reality though the Scotch Irish were Protestant settlers from Scotland sent to Protestant-ize Ireland by their English rulers (it didn’t work), but they later became persecuted themselves by England and many moved to America. None of that is relevant to my
story ramble, but I though it was interesting. Anyway, what I mean to imply is that I’m white … in a swarthy kind of way. That’s important because I kinda see Latinos as like me. Granted I’m not from Latin America, and I don’t have any Native American blood mixed with my Portuguese, but other than speaking funny … they are me. Sorta. Once I was working in a mall and someone that looked a little bit like me came up and started speaking in Spanish at me. (At is the correct word. I could feel the words bouncing off me as the lady spoke them). So I know that at least to one little old Latino lady, until I open my mouth I might pass as Latino. Maybe it was the lighting in the mall, or maybe she knew someone there spoke Spanish and I was standing there, I don’t know.
Now, more than two decades after leaving my little town in Mississippi for college (also in Mississippi), then work (in slightly larger towns in Mississippi), and then a job in a big city (in Texas) I have come in contact with people from all walks of life and from all over the world. And let me tell you something. I can’t tell any of you people apart. I often work with people who’s ancestors originated from India, and if they dress the same as some from Latin America, there’s only about a 25% chance I could tell you they weren’t Latino. And as for most Latinos I have no idea if they are Spanish, Portuguese, Latino, or some generic White-mess. I have the same issue with folks from the Middle East, though I have about a 40% chance to tell they aren’t full on White. I have confused some lighter skinned Black folk with Whites and Latinos as well. When Hollywood casts a bunch of Anglos as Asians, I’m the ONE GUY in the theater going, “Wow. Authentic Asian actors. Finally!”
I’m too stupid to be racist. Or am I too racist that it is stupid? No, I don’t think so. At least I hope not. To me racism should really be intentional. I never really understood why race was important anyway. Honestly I never cared. I had Black friends growing up, and I probably could have had a Latino friend if I were cool enough. Now it seems that we live in an age of hyper sensitivity over who is what, and I kinda feel like people have drawn away from others simply because they look differently from each other. I thought America was a melting pot? Or at the very least a stew pot. Sure before you go in the pot you are a carrot, but when you get to the pot and mix around with the other ingredients you start to become something else, something better. You become stew! Not something called a Carrot-Stewian, but delicious stew.
Since I’m too stupid to be racist, AND since I feel everyone has to have a “thang” to help others define them, I’ve gone Full (Extended) Jingo! I am JINGO UNCHAINED!
USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!) USA! (and Mexico and Canada!)
© 2013, Joe Little. All rights reserved.