On Presentation

Posted: May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

My wife teaches in a predominantly minority populated school, and, as she teaches students who are diagnosed as Emotionally Disturbed, the ratios are skewed even more toward minorities than the general ed. population. She is white. So it probably comes as little surprise that when things don’t go a student’s way, she has, on occasion, been accused of being racist, never mind that she’s treating other minority students differently, based on the student’s personal behavior.

The other day she asked me what her students would think if they knew she was married to a Hispanic. (My wife chose to keep her last name when we married, so it’s not exactly a giveaway). I didn’t have a good answer for her.

Here’s the thing though, I don’t necessarily present myself as Hispanic. Oh sure, when official forms and EEO surveys come my way, I note Hispanic when given the choice, but I don’t necessarily identify with Hispanic culture.

Both of my parents were born, raised, and educated in the United States.

I grew up in a Westchester, NY suburb.

My Spanish language skills are minimal.

I don’t speak with an accent. (That’s a lie. I speak with A mid-Atlantic accent).

I don’t feel that having a last name end with an –ez has prevented me from pursuing educational or employment opportunities.

Yes, my dad is Puerto Rican and Spanish. Growing up, his parents looked to assimilate as much as possible. Both were immigrants (as much as someone from Puerto Rico can be an immigrant to the US). He didn’t grow up in a Hispanic neighborhood.

Mom is Irish and French-Canadian.

Growing up, I heard Irish rebel songs as often (if not more so) than Julio Iglesias or Santana. All the books I had were in English. I’ve a better grasp of Norse myth than I do Spanish history.

How does this relate to writing?

My MCs are predominantly white. I have very few PoC characters. This isn’t by design, necessarily, but it is a sign of writing what I’m used to. There are writers out there who are writing non-white PoC characters in fantasy and science-fiction. Saladin Ahmed comes to mind immediately (I just started reading THRONE OF THE CRESCENT MOON).

Even when I am writing more contemporary fiction, I tend toward Caucasian characters in so far as I describe race at all.

Something for me to think about at any rate.

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