I’m Mexican But I Look White. Identity Politics Only Makes It Harder

Growing up with my “condition” was weird. Today, it’s weirder.

Joe Garza
5 min readApr 3, 2020
Image by ZENITH LR from Pixabay

I was raised in a pretty average Mexican-American family in East San Jose, California, which has a large Mexican-American population. Until college, I mostly went to schools whose students were mostly Mexican-American.

And yet, I never truly fit in.

I had friends and didn’t experience much bullying.

But making acquaintances was always tinged with awkwardness. Everyone thought I was white, and noticing others’ change in behavior towards me when they learned my real identity was uncomfortable.

It’s a feeling I’ve gotten used to in my wiser, more tolerant and more experienced adulthood. I’ve learned to laugh off the instantaneous cognitive dissonance people display when they discover that my physical identity doesn’t perfectly match up with the stereotype. And because most people I interact with are adults, they’re more likely to shake off the feeling and see me for me than younger people are.

I understand why people are often shocked to learn about my actual ethnicity.

Humans are highly visual creatures, so it only makes sense that we’re going to make snap decisions on…